On an overnight flight, sleeping on the plane is a huge help if you stick to your destination’s time zone. Otherwise the extra sleep might stop you drifting off at the right time once you get there. But try to avoid sleeping pills, as they can make you groggy when you land. There are, however, many natural sleep aids, such as lavender and chamomile essential oils, or an aromatherapy blend like the NEOM ‘Scent to Sleep’ range, which can help to prevent jet lag. Plus, it’s said that the effects of jet lag are worse when you’re travelling east – to Thailand for example – than when you’re travelling west, to destinations like New York. This is because, put simply, it’s easier to go to sleep later than you’re used to, than to nod off much earlier than normal.
One thing that can really help is recalibrating your sleep schedule a few days before your flight. This is especially good for children – make their bedtime 20 minutes earlier or later each night, depending on the local time at your destination.
We often think of jet lag as a long flight inconvenience, but you can, in fact, experience it when you’re flying short haul. It’s all down to how many time zones you travel through, as well as your natural body clock. According to the NHS, crossing one or two time zones doesn’t usually cause jet lag. Three to six time zones results in mild jet lag, and crossing seven to 12, to destinations like Mexico or Bali, will result in the strongest effect. For example, if you head off to the Greek islands, only a short flight away, you’ll pass into your third time zone, and could still struggle sleeping.
“It can take around one day per time zone crossed for our bodies to get used to the new sleep cycle,” says sports scientist Dr. Thomas Reilly. So jet lag can be a factor even on short flights. Luckily, jet lag symptoms should only be mild.
As relaxing as a glass of wine may be, alcohol is a hindrance, not a help. The symptoms of dehydration – fatigue, headaches, and dizziness – mirror the symptoms of jet lag, amplifying the effects and making it feel that much worse.
Alcohol increases dehydration, and is believed to be up to three times more potent at altitude. So, even one drink can have a much stronger effect than usual. Drink lots of water instead – you’ll feel better for avoiding dehydration. And if that isn’t convincing enough, just imagine combining jet lag with a hangover. Not a fun start to your holiday.
While it may sound like a myth, this one has actually been studied at New York’s Cornell University and, incredibly, the results do suggest there is some truth to this myth. It’s thanks to something called a ‘circadian rhythm’ – the body’s internal clock. This roughly follows a 24-hour cycle and relies on light and dark to keep or set time.
Light-sensitive cells in the back of our knees can be tricked into resetting the body’s rhythms using artificial light. But it takes three hours of knee-shining to see the effects, so you might have better things to do with your time. However, as light is an effective way to adapt the body’s sleep patterns, try to get as much sunlight as possible on arrival at your destination to help you stay awake, and pop an eye mask on when it’s time to sleep. If you fly on a 787 Dreamliner, there’s even special cabin mood lighting to help you adjust to the local time zone and fight the effects of jet lag before you land.
Ready to beat jet lag?
Book your escape now. We’ve got lots more tips for you before you travel, too. Take a look at our top travel app recommendations, our packing hacks, and our roundup of some of the weirdest laws around the world.
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Author: Natalie Howells
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