Tips on Avoiding Jetlag

Jetlag is one of the many potential unpleasant side effects when flying across different time zones, becoming worse the further you travel. It has been the cause of many a niggling argument between me and my girlfriend; you’re tired, confused, and irritable, may well be suffering from insomnia and worst still it can give you diarrhea. Which can make you pretty grumpy. Although you’ll never completely be able to negate the effects of jetlag, there are a few things you can do to make the symptoms much less severe…. So here are a few tips.

Do the prep
Like an Olympic athlete trains for a race, so should you train your body to cope with the change in time zones. Fortunately for you, this doesn’t mean having to run about or do anything too strenuous. All you need to do is alter your daily schedule by pushing it forward or back by one hour each week, depending on where you’re going. This will give your body chance to adjust gradually to your new time zone.

If you’re travelling long haul with a time difference of several hours, obviously it will not be convenient to change your schedule by this much in your final week. So just try and change your pattern by an hour a day – within reason – in the final week, and on the day before you travel, see if you can do a 3-4 hour early/late schedule. It will all help.

Drink lots of water
This is key, as dehydration is one of the main symptoms of jetlag and can contribute hugely to your feeling of fatigue and irritability. Avoid caffeine and alcohol – they will dehydrate you more, and combined with the dry air of the air conditioning system, you will soon be feeling like shit.

Alter your watch
Alter your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you get on the plane – it will help you prepare mentally for the shift in time.

Act like you’re already there
You should act as though you are already in your destination when you’re on the plane. So if it’s around your normal bedtime in your destination, try to get some sleep on the plane. If it’s around the time you’d normally wake up, attempt to stay awake. This will help you acclimatise. You can use earplugs and eye shades to help induce sleep if necessary.

If you’ve got the money, the best way to get a decent night’s sleep on a plane is to pay the extra for a fold down bed in business or first class. The quality of sleep you get will be way better.

Eat a good breakfast
When you arrive at your destination, eat a protein rich meal as soon as you get there – this will help with your mental alertness.

See the doc
You can also ask your doctor to proscribe a small dose of sleep-inducing medication to send you off to sleep if you really struggle to drop off.