Jet lag – the stuff nightmares are made of (or would be, if you could just get to sleep). The restless nights and jaded days that are part of our lives as frequent flyers can almost make travel seem like a chore. If there were a cure, we’d be lining the streets to get our hands on it. But for now, the best way to avoid, or at least reduce, the effects of long haul travel are to be as informed and prepared as possible.
Let’s start with the most important thing – what jet lag actually is. There’s an incredible amount of science behind why high-speed, long distance travel has such an uncomfortable effect on the circadian rhythms of the human body. Simply put, it’s when our biological clocks that tell our bodies when to sleep or wake up have trouble adjusting to the dramatic changes that come from travelling across time zones. Your body will try to remain on the schedule it’s used to, and is slow to accept the change. So, while your mind is ready to explore the world outside your hotel room, your body’s not so eager. That being said, there’s more than one thing you can do to tell your body to stop sleeping through all the good stuff.
It’s almost impossible to plan the direction your plane will be travelling on your next trip. However, be aware that travelling east, rather than west, is easier on the body than vice versa because you’ll be gaining time rather than losing it. But regardless of the direction your flight is heading, choosing one that arrives in the early evening and staying up till 10pm local time gives you a better chance of having a positive experience the next day.
You’ve probably all experienced sitting on a flight and immediately regretting your seat choice. By now you’ll have figured out what suits you, but don’t forget:
- emergency row seating has extra leg room, though it may cost you more
- aisle seats are better for those of us who frequently visit the bathroom
- the front rows are usually ‘family zones’, which means more noise and less sleep
- if you ever have the opportunity to upgrade, don’t hesitate to do so
Your On-Board Action
Tired, stressed, over-excited or hungover? Imagine feeling like that while walking through the Sahara. The cabin of a plane at 30,000 ft is actually drier than the desert, so you know to expect headaches, dry skin and swelling – unless you keep hydrated. Your body will be craving water and a nice glass of Pinot Noir is tempting, but it’s not worth it in the long run. A flight drink, like 1Above, with electrolytes and vitamins could be just the ticket to feel fresher when you touch down.
Insider tip: Being polite to your flight attendant can be the smartest thing you do throughout the whole flight, but you already know that, right?
As soon as you touch the tarmac, make sure you’re on local time. Change your watch, phone time and mindset as early as possible. Also, get some sun. Sunlight is the best thing to get you feeling human again. It stimulates your body to get back into rhythm, so instead of napping in the afternoon or staying inside, take a stroll. Light exercise won’t hurt either.
At the end of the day, taking in the culture and experiences of places unknown to you is why we go through the pain for 12+ hour flights. Don’t waste time dealing with the headache of jet lag, when the world is waiting for you to explore.
Author Bio: Brought to you by TBEX Sponsor 1Above. Find out how 1Above reduces dehydration and helps you arrive ready at your destination.