Here are my tips for avoiding jet lag:
Hydration is perhaps the single biggest thing to keep on top of when travelling. Airports are usually stuffy and the planes circulate air constantly which can leave your skin dry, and you dehydrated and feeling very grouchy.
Personally I drink a lot of water every day anyway, somewhere between 2.75-4 litres per day depending on what I am doing. When flying I am up at the upper end. For my flight out to Vancouver in September 2015 I drank almost 2 litres before getting on the plane and a further 1.5 during the flight. Every time the stewards brought more drinks around I had another glass or bottle of water.
Aside from having to do a few trips to the bathroom mid-flight I felt much more awake and refreshed than I have on previous flights. I also enjoyed a small bottle of wine and just stuck to the one drink as I didn’t want to feel too sleepy.
Not only is water important for keeping you hydrated it is also recommended for improving blood flow which helps to prevent deep vein thrombi’s (DVT’s).
The temptation is always there when flying to go flop and not move. Although this works well for some it often leaves you feeling sluggish and undoubtedly stiff when you get to your destination. To avoid this I stretch regularly and if I have an aisle seat then I get up and move about too. Aside from helping to keep you alert it too also helps prevent DVT’s as you keep better circulation by moving and not staying vegetated for hours on end. Although many of us do office jobs it’s surprising how much movement we still do when we’re not strapped into a tiny airplane seat but stuck at our desks.
Take power naps
Now for many people this will not appeal but when I fly I don’t like to sleep. This is for 2 reasons, 1 I snore so my fellow passengers are never overly chuffed if I sleep for long and 2 it stops me feeling exhausted when I get to my destination.
Rather than sleeping for prolonged periods I power nap, typically 20-25 minutes every 2-3 hours. The benefit of this is firstly if I snore I don’t annoy anyone for too long but also it helps to keep me feeling alert.
Power naps have been shown scientifically to be very beneficial in day to day life. The benefit of a power nap is that you avoid dropping into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is the deep sleep state. If you get into REM sleep and get woken up without being in it for a decent amount of time then you end up feeling worse off than when you started, think of those times you’ve thought “oh I’ll just have an afternoon nap” only to wake up after an hour or so feeling like you’ve been awake all night. Unless you’re guaranteed to get 6-8 hours undisturbed sleep then power naps may well suit you better.
My final tip for avoiding jet lag is to be productive during your flight. Most people when they get on a flight plug into the TV’s and vegetate for the entire flight. For my flight to Vancouver, which was 9.5 hours, I watched 20 minutes TV and only turned it on to check where we were flying over at the time (I’m a bit of a geek that way).
Being productive can take many forms. You can plan your trips for your vacation or read the travel guide you bought months ago but never had a chance to read as you were so busy doing other things in the lead up to going away. Other things include writing a letter to someone you’ve not been in touch with for ages, writing that article or bucket list you’ve seldom had time to think about. Read the book that’s gathered dust on the bookshelf and you’ve owned for what seems like a lifetime. Meditate – this is great to do if you’ve got on the flight with the screaming child in the row in front of you. Flying time does not have to mean dead and unproductive time.
Coming out to Vancouver I read a book I’d started weeks before but never got around to finishing, wrote a shopping list of bits I needed to get in my first few days, organised my paperwork ready for immigration, filled out my declaration form and planned out a couple of blog post ideas.
I could have used my laptop to do a few bits on but the wifi can be unpredictable and the person in front of me decided to lean back in their chair, which didn’t leave enough room to open it out properly. That said I still did plenty and with food interruptions and the drink trolley going back and forth the flight time flew by. I got to Vancouver not only feeling fresh but accomplished, which certainly helped when it came to going through the various parts of the airport, especially immigration.
All in all I think travelling time is a great opportunity to do static things you’ve been meaning to do for a long time but simply haven’t had the chance to. As you haven’t got a choice but to be there for the duration of the flight I think being productive can definitely help make travelling much more enjoyable and allow you to get plenty done. Combined with napping, drinking plenty of water and stretching, flying needn’t be the monotonous slog that most people come to dread when they go away.