Now everyone can fly, says Tony Fernandes. This privilege of flying however comes at a cost, chief among them being the dreaded jet lag. You can be a travel connoisseur yet still suffer from a bad bout of jet lag.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we should avoid long distance travelling. As any seasoned traveller might tell you, there are many hacks that you can deploy to mitigate, if not beat, jet lag like a champ.
Avoid alcohol before and during your flight. Research has shown that alcohol is detrimental to a good night's sleep and you want to put yourself in the best physical state possible. Alcohol also leads to dehydration, which leads us to the second point.
Drink as much water as possible before, during and after your flight. Hydration helps to alleviate the worst effects of jet lag, which arise particularly due to the loss of body water and electrolytes. Airplane cabins are often pressurized to 6900 feet above sea level and this water deficit occurs to most passengers without them realising it.
When travelling, consider bringing an empty, reusable water bottle to be filled up once you have passed through security. If you do not or have forgotten to bring a bottle, ask the flight attendants for water. Some airports even have free water stands within their departure terminals, such as the departure hall in KLIA2, so make sure you use them!
We also have bad news for all coffee lovers: avoid coffee before and during flights. It contributes to dehydration, messes with your sleeping ability and will only aggravate the jet lag recovery time.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Image by Yuris Alhumaydy
Try to get a good, full night's sleep the night before you fly. I think of it as "stocking up" on sleep. If you don’t sleep well on the flight, at least you were well-rested before boarding, thus making the arrival a lot less difficult to adjust to.
There is also something to be said for routines which allow us to cope better with new places and events, including time zones.
Set your Time Zone
Beating jet lag is also a psycSet your Time Zonehological game. One of the top ways of doing this is by setting your watch to the time zone of destination when you board your flight (but before you land). This will help you get into the frame of mind of already being at your destination before actually arriving.
You are of course welcome to set your new time zone earlier, but we would advise against that. The last thing you want to do is to get confused and end up missing your flight!
Image by Erik Odiin
There are many things about airplanes that make it a very unconducive place to sleep. The buzz and cries of fellow passengers, rumbling of the airplane engines, turbulence, the overhead compartment lights turning on and off and the hard, uncomfortable structure of your airplane seats.
To minimise distractions and noise and light pollution, consider bringing items such as an eye mask, earplug and a U-shaped neck pillow with you. These items will make the flight that much better and hopefully allow you to catch an extra wink or two.
Melatonin is a hormone that tells your brain when it is time to wind down and sleep. Some travellers find it helpful to take a small dosage before sleeping to help with adjusting their body clock. We recommended that you speak to your physician on the amount most suited to you.
One of the more interesting jet lag hacks includes spraying yourself with a fruit extract mist. These sprays keep your skin hydrated and the gentle scent can both soothe and relax you. Of course, if you intend to bring this on board, make sure it is within the volume parameters set by the airline!
Image by Suhyeon Choi
One of the worse things about long distance flight is that you are stuck in a really tiny space for an inordinate amount of time. Rather than remaining seated for the entire duration, move around the space you have as often as possible. Get up and head to the toilet. Or just get up and stand near a larger, open space (just don't get in the way of the crew!). If you are afraid of forgetting to move around, try to schedule it in every time you finish a movie and after every in-flight meal. Movement is critical in improving your blood circulation and helping to beat the dreaded jet lag.
Avoid White and Blue Light
Our circadian rhythms are influenced by the amount of daylight that we are exposed to. Chances are that you will struggle more when travelling from London to Kuala Lumpur (eastwards) then you would when flying from Malaysia to Europe. This is because our days are shortened and our body hasn't learned that the day is over and it is time to wind down!
Knowing this, it is important to minimise conflicting signs being sent to our body on whether it should be winding down or not. While we have already suggested taking melatonin, consider minimising your exposure to backlight from electronic devices such as your smartphones, iPads and laptops. White and blue light are severe impediments to the production of natural melatonin in our body. A good hack is to use the Night Shift feature on your iOS devices or to just put away your devices for the duration of the flight!
Don’t Sleep In
Wherever possible, schedule your arrival to be in the evening. This is most effective for beating any impending jet lag like a champ since you can head straight to bed and wake up bright and early, thus aligning yourself with the local time zone.
If you arrive in the morning or afternoon, it may be time to grab that cup of coffee! Avoid sleeping during the day because it will only make it that much harder to sync with the local time. Fill your first day up with exciting, action-packed activities that keep you on the feet and on the go. Come early evening, call it a day and crash! You will wake up bright and early tomorrow, refreshed and ready for the next adventure.
Regardless of when you arrive, a key takeaway is to ensure that you wake up early the next time. We recommend no later than 9 am local time as you want to align with the local time as quickly as possible.
Image by @theformfitness
Exercise is more than a trend; it provides real benefits and is definitely a tool we would recommend deploying when trying to beat the jet lag. Whenever possible, try to schedule in a good workout session to boost your metabolism. If travelling with family, you can even make it a family event by scheduling in an early run at a nearby park. You get to start your day early, explore your new surroundings and stay healthy. A win all around.
There is no sure fire way of beating jet lag but there are ways of handling (and thus beating) it like a champ. The main principles behind all the recommendations above is to prepare your body physically - through diet and sleep - while also entering a proper psychological state of mind that will allow you to cope with the new time zone upon arrival.
We wish you safe travels over this summer break!
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com