Jetlag is unfortunately something most of us can say we have experienced if we have travelled across several time-zones. It’s that feeling of tiredness and sometimes feeling dazed.
I recently came home from a trip to Bali after a 16 hour return journey. This is not my first nor will it be my last long-haul flight but with each trip I try to reduce the stresses of flight. While it is impossible to avoid the effects of jet lag completely, I have adopted a set of habits to minimise its effect on my mind and body.
Below are my tips for ‘best sleep’ at 35,000 feet…
Think about the time on the ground not the time in the air
Set your watch to the time of your destination as soon as you board the plane and then, time your sleep accordingly to avoid jet lag.
An Example: If you are flying from the UK for South East Asia and you would normally go to bed around 2300 then try to fall asleep after a couple hours into the flight.
Try and purchase a ticket in a premium section of the cabin
Many innovations exist to help you sleep anywhere, from special pillows to special pills. If you can afford the extra cost (or hold extra frequent flyer miles), upgrade to a premium section of the cabin on long haul flights. Most global carriers now offer lie-flat beds in these service classes, as well as amenities like pyjamas and eye masks, which familiarise’s sleeping in the air almost as easy as sleeping on the ground.
Like on any flight, a good seat is paramount. On a transcontinental or transoceanic flight, trust me, you want an aisle seat. No matter how much you hate it, there is no way anyone can avoid the airplane bathroom over a 12 hour period.
It’s tempting to drink coffee and alcohol on an plane, but what you really need to be loading up on is water. Pressure conditions inside most planes cause you to become dehydrated faster, which not only messes up your sleep schedule and makes you feel more jet lagged, but also weakens your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness on your trip than you would be if you had stayed hydrated.
Prioritise Your Hygiene
The saying goes beauty might be skin deep, but the benefits of maintaining your routine during travel go much deeper.
Taking care of your skin by washing and moisturising is the biggest one, and will have you feeling fresh all the way from point A to point B. It also helps to prepare ahead for common issues like red eyes and puffiness.
Bring eye drops with you ( as I learnt very quickly as a flight attendant), and if you start to feel a little under-eye bloat, grab an ice cube from your in-flight drink, tuck it into a napkin, and hold it under your eye for a minute. The reduction in swelling will have you looking and feeling just like your normal self.
Pick up a hydrating mist, moist towelettes, and breath fresheners and toothbrush to round out a ever useful hygiene travel kit.
Adjust Your Eating Habits
During long-haul flights it is obvious not only do you have a messed up body clock for sleeping but it is your eating habit that also changes. Try to eat at your usual times even if you find yourself not hungry, have something.
Stay Awake As Long As You Can
This is a biggy for me. If you arrive in the morning, as if often the case on Eastbound flights, such as from the USA to Europe, or, Europe to Asia.
While it might seem tempting or even helpful to take an afternoon nap, doing so will just protract your bodies transition to your new time zone and increase your susceptibility to jet lag. One way to prevent yourself from falling asleep is to stay active on your first day, even if you simply walk in the park.
Set Your Room For A Good Nights Sleep
Studies have shown that people sleep better when it’s cold and dark, so when it’s your bed time your first night on the ground, close your curtains/blinds completely and turn up the aircon. If you have not got air conditioning, minimise your bodys excess heat – take off the covers.
Similarly, if your hotel does not have the best curtains, get yourself an eye mask to block out the light.