How to... beat jet-lag
Joel Bond Travels
Face it, jet lag is a bother. In our fast-paced world, crossing time zones as quickly as possible is often a requirement; yet it is a profoundly unnatural experience. While there's not magic bullet cure for jet-lag, here's a few tips from a seasoned pro to help you feel refreshed as soon as possible.
- Get moving. I always make a habit of taking a brisk walk, outdoors if possible, at some during the day before my flight. If you can't get outdoors, take a few laps around the terminal building. Once on board, be sure to get up from your seat occasionally (though be warned, your yoga stretches by the lavatory door are not welcomed by crew and fellow passengers alike).
- Stay hydrated. You've heard this a million times, but just because the booze is free on those long-haul flights doesn't mean you should drink the bar dry. With the dry cabin air at high altitude, your body actually loses moisture at a phenomenal rate while flying. That pasty dry-mouth feeling you get when you land isn't from falling asleep with your mouth open: cabin humidity is a paltry 10%. Drink 8oz / 250ml of water for every hour you're in the air, and your body will thank you (though the guy in the aisle might not be grateful for the frequent toilet visits). Be sure to bring your own large bottle of water, as crew can sometimes run short on long flights.
- Don't sleep. Yes, that's right. Don't sleep on arrival. It may seem like a losing battle to make it to 10pm in your new time zone, but keep yourself active, engaged and moving. Grab a workout, go for a bike ride, or simply explore the local neighbourhood where you'll be staying - but whatever you do, don't let your body go horizontal until after your evening meal at the earliest.
- Get your vitamin D. Sunshine works wonders. Get yourself out of doors and soak in a few rays. Natural light triggers wakefulness in your body, so take advantage of this natural stimulant.
- Eat right. It's a simple concept, but try to plan a healthy meal both before and after your flight. I usually travel with a few homemade packets of oatmeal, packed with nuts and seeds and dried fruits, to provide me with a balance of complex carbs and simple sugars before a flight. On landing, skip the fast food on the concourse and head for something with a substantial bit of protein and some complex carbs to give that 'full' feeling without the drastic energy crash that comes after a carbohydrate-heavy meal.
- Obsess over darkness. When it does come time to sleep, eliminate all light from your room, if possible. Draw the blackout curtains, turn off the lights, unplug the TV so that tiny power indicator light goes off. Total darkness will help you fall asleep more quickly and stay soundly in dreamland until your body has naturally rested.
It's time-honored advice for a reason. These steps won't keep away the brain-fuzz completely, but hopefully your jet-lag will be greatly reduced so you can be in 'the zone' when it comes time to enjoy your destination.