Jet lag is an included item in the long-haul travel package - it is inevitable, dreaded, and simply exhausting.
You may have heard of the term 'body clock'. Well, this is exactly what jet lag disrupts. Your body clock, aka your circadian rhythms, regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and these rhythms are out of sync when you travel across several time zones.
Travellers often find themselves disoriented for days, never knowing whether they are eating their breakfast at 8am or 8pm, until days later they find themselves perfectly in sync as if they had lived there all their lives.
Joking aside, jet lag can be such a frustrating symptom of long-distance travel, if you do not control it. It often involves:
I would like to stress that this should never deter you from having the best adventures of your life!
After several flights across the Atlantic Ocean, I have learned the best ways to manage the time difference, while making the most out of my trip, and ultimately adapting to my new time zone in 1-2 days.
And I am writing to tell you that following my simple tips will speed up the lengthy synchronisation process, and you will recover much faster than the traveller across the aisle.
So, read on if you want to learn my secrets...
Believe it or not, your battle against jet lag begins when you book your flights. This is because your flight times have a huge impact on your body's response to the new time zone.
I cannot tell you what the best time would be, as I don't know where you are going! But, it is certainly worth researching the best times to fly as selecting these will give you a head start.
And I understand you can often be tempted by price, but you should ask yourself why the flights are so cheap at that time, but not two hours later...
One way to give yourself a head start is to adapt your sleep schedule ever so slightly before you leave.
For example, if you are travelling somewhere that is 5 hours behind your current time zone, try to go to bed 1 or 2 hours later than normal a few days before you leave.
If you do this, it will feel as if there is only a 3 hour time difference, rather than 5. And this will help enormously!
A huge advantage to combating jet lag is to adjust the time on your watch and any devices you are carrying. You may want to gradually adjust the time throughout your flight, but I personally prefer to make the adjustments as soon as I hear the first ding dong signal to get out of my seat.
This way, you are subtly convincing your mind that it is actually 7am, not 12pm. Such a simple thing really does make a huge difference!
A bit of advice: don't change your time settings until you are actually on the flight because otherwise you may miss your gate, and we wouldn't want that, would we...?
I understand if you're sat in the window seat next to complete strangers, you may feel rude for interrupting them.
With that being said, you really should aim to keep as active as possible on your flight. Not only is it physically good for you to have a little stroll and a stretch, some studies suggest keeping active will actually help you feel less jet lagged.
Sometimes I pretend I am going to the toilet, and while I do actually end up going there, my goal is to actually get a little bit of exercise! And if you don't want to interrupt your fellow passengers too much, simply take the long route back to your seat when you do go!
But, if interrupting your neighbouring passengers is too much of an issue, there are some stretches you can do without leaving your seat.
On your flight, you will most likely be offered several cups of coffee. And it will be a challenge to refuse if you love coffee as much as I do, but you will thank yourself later.
Instead, opt for non-caffeinated drinks!
Some people sleep on the plane no matter what time of day it is. And whether you are a sleeper or not, you really should try to shut your eyes for a while if you are on an overnight flight.
There is nothing worse than disembarking a red-eye flight and realising you did not sleep at all. Trust me, I have done it, and I did not thank myself.
Now, this last point is absolutely vital!
After a long flight, there is nothing more tempting than to just flop onto your hotel bed, and just sleep... But, you need to tell yourself NO!
Do not lie down because I can guarantee you will not get up, and you will then undo all the work you've done so far!
Instead, you should unpack, grab a bite to eat, and then explore. This is especially easy if you are in a city as there will be plenty to distract you from your tiredness. And as you have spent the whole day in a metal tube 40,000ft in the air, you will need some fresh air.
And when it is finally an acceptable bedtime (I class this as 8-10pm), you are free to give in to your body's calls for sleep...
The next morning, you may wake up at an odd time, but you will adapt very quickly as long as you have followed these steps.