Ask any regular long-haul flyer about their experience of flying and you will soon find that everyone has a different”magic” formula for overcoming or avoiding jet lag.
In reality of course no magic formula exists – and there’s certainly no magic pill or tablet. There is, however, a great deal that you can do in preparation for your departure to help you overcome or eliminate jet lag and here are just a few hints:
Maintain a consistent sleep pattern.
If you are not after a constant routine in the days and weeks before your journey (going to bed and getting up at exactly the same time each day) your body’s internal clock will be interrupted even before you start your journey and your flight will just magnify the consequences of insomnia caused by jet lag.
Make sure you are receiving a balanced and healthy diet.
Diet plays an important role in ensuring that you get a great night’s sleep and an appropriate balance of whole grains, grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet is essential.
Alcohol and caffeine are two elements of your diet that are particularly important in relation to jet lag and those ought to be reduced, or eliminated, at the run-up to your trip if at all possible. If, however, asking you to give your twelve cups of coffee each day is rather like asking you to cut off your right hand, then try to limit your intake to the afternoon between about 3 pm and 5 pm.
Caffeine when taken late in the day will accelerate your body clock, while taking it in the morning has the contrary effect. Taken during the middle of the day, caffeine has minimum effect on your body’s circadian rhythms.
Take regular exercise.
Regular exercise can significantly improve the consistency, quality and duration of your normal sleep cycle. Some type of daily aerobic exercise, lasting at least twenty minutes, will go a long way to preparing your body to your forthcoming journey.
Start to gradually adjust your bedtime.
You should start to”manage” your body clock by gradually and gradually adjusting your bedtime and wake up time in the days before your travel, to bring these into line with the local time at your destination.
If, as an example, you normally go to bed at 10 pm and you are flying into a state that is four hours ahead, at your normal bedtime time at your destination will be two am. Therefore, in this case, you will need to gradually bring your bedtime forward a little bit (say fifteen minutes) each night for a week or ten days before your departure. This may mean that immediately before leaving you are going to bed at say 7.30 pm. But when you arrive at your destination this may mean that you are now going to bed at 11.30 pm and that you have narrowed the four hour time difference to just one and a half hours.
Reduce stress in the days prior to traveling.
One often overlooked factor from the jet lag equation is that of anxiety and much of the stress is a direct outcome of the journey . How many times have you found yourself running around at the last minute trying to perform 1001 things at the same time?
Plan ahead and make sure that, as far as is possible, everything that you will need to do both at home and at works is completed well in advance of your trip. In planning for your trip, clear as much as you can as early as you can and make particular time available on your pre-journey planning for lots of relaxation in the days immediately prior to your departure.
These are simply a couple examples of things that you need to pay attention to when planning any long-haul trip and, together with other specific measures taken both during your trip and after your arrival, will considerably reduce the effects of jet lag, or even lead to no jet lag at all!