TRICKS OF THE TRADE TO HELP YOU TACKLE JET LAG
It’s been a few weeks now since I returned from my Asian adventures, so i’m well and truly adjusted to the British weather and time zone, but it’s fair to say this trip really hit me hard from a jet lag point of view. Especially on my return back to the UK. Jet lag is one of those bastard side affects of incredible travel, it can wipe you out on day two (i’ve had this in NYC before) or make the return to reality all the more difficult to adjust to.
But fear not my traveller friends, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help you combat jet lag head on, and ensure you’re up and enjoying those sunsets on holiday, and not fast asleep in bed already.
I’ve shared my three most relied on tricks to help me combat the time zone changes and endless tiredness that can ensue. Whilst you can’t really prevent jet lag from occurring, you can certainly help yourself adjust and cope with thew new time zones and side affects that you face.
HOW TO AVOID JETLAG
EMBRACE YOUR NEW TIME ZONE IMMEDIATELY
Truth be told, I learnt the hard way the importance of embracing your new time zone, but unless you truly switch off from your home time zone you’ll constantly be reminding yourself that you should be asleep or awake at the wrong time. Change your watch the moment you get on board your flight and from the moment you land embrace the time zone and behaviours of the country you’ve arrived in. It may be midnight at home, but if the locals are having lunch, then join in. If your throw your body into your new time zone, it’ll quickly adjust.
The same goes for travelling back home, avoid the temptation to spend the day asleep once you return (and oversleep), your best bet is to hit the ground running and throw your body into normal daily life (i went straight to work the day I returned).
GET OUT AND ABOUT
Natural light is the most valuable thing in helping you adjust to a new time zone, your body naturally reacts to the lights natural rise and fall and as much exposure to day light as possible is key. It’s easy to land in your new destination, hit the bed straight away and pull those black out curtains shut and spend a whole day asleep, or equally hit the hay that first night and find yourself waking up at midday. But this is a bad trap to fall into and you’ll find yourself constantly tired and struggling to adjust to your new time zone. So what can you do?
If you’re flying to or back from a country where it’s likely your body won’t wake up until midday, leave the curtains open a little so the natural light wakes you up, and don’t allow yourself to over sleep!
Plan lots of activities throughout the day and get outside as much as possible. This is really easy when you’re travelling or on holiday, but a little trickier if you’re travelling with work and spending most your day in an office. Plan breaks, or short walks to keep you active & exposed to day light. Not to mention, keeping hydrated constantly and not over relying on caffeine or alcohol to keep you awake (as tempted as that may be).
And finally book restaurant reservations for dinner and breakfast in advance, so you have a commitment to stay awake / wake up early and adjust to your new time zone from day one. It’s not just your sleep that is affected by jet lag, your appetite and digestion is too, so it’s important to ensure you adjust and embrace your new time zone from day one and avoid eating when your body might be used to (sorry kids, no midnight feasts here).
EMBRACE THE EARLY RISE
One of the biggest down sides of jet-lag is struggling to stay awake in your new time zone (for example when I returned to the UK after my trip to HK I couldn’t keep awake past 8pm because my body felt like it was 4am in the morning and I’d been up all night), but what comes with this, is the silver lining of waking up at the crack of dawn. As a non morning person this is a blessing in disguise, and I embraced the early wake up to get things done that I otherwise would never have time for. A proper breakfast and a cup of tea, some time to blog, even the scenic route to work. Your body will soon want to sleep in once it’s adjusted back, but while it lasts, make the most of the ability to stay up a little later, or wake up that bit earlier. Watch the sun rise and embrace the morning peace.
There you have it, three very simple yet effective strategies to help you cope and combat long haul jetlag. It’s easy to fall into the trap of sleeping when you’re body is used to and wanting to eat and your usual times of day, but the key to fighting the jet lag and making the most out of your trip is embrace the new time zones and behaviours straight away, your body will soon adjust the more you expose it to the new time zone.