I. Move. So. Slowly. Eyes are blurry, the minutia of every task is a punishment, I am in hotel room purgatory. I cannot even be arsed to boil the kettle for the caffeine that will surely propel me into existence. Jet Lag! Unavoidable when you travel and unequivocally one of the worst parts of it. However, when you start to look like your passport photo you know its time for a life reset. Here are some of the ways I deal with the inevitable “jet psychosis”.
As a general rule I try to stay fit, hydrated and nourished with lots of healthy food. If you’re in good physical condition you tend to have greater stamina and cope better with the effects of jet lag. So first up…what is it. Jet lag is an imbalance in the body’s biological clock or circadian rhythm caused by travelling to different time zones. Circadian rhythms are influenced by sunlight, help determine when we sleep and wake and are measured by body temperature, plasma levels of hormones and other biological conditions. The effects of this lag can leave me with disturbed sleep, either insomnia or unbelievably tired even during the day, moody and with a short fuse, unable to have regular bodily functions and with trouble concentrating or feeling like little tasks are a monumental challenge.
Here are a few of the methods I use to stop me saying “Jet Lag made me do it”
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Obvi if I’m working I wouldn’t be drinking alcohol but I would have a cup of tea or other form of caffeine. If I was on holidays and HAD to have a celebratory champagne on boarding or with the first meal service thats ok, I would simply limit alcohol consumption to the start of the flight then rehydrate for the rest.
- Move about the cabin every hour or 2.
- Try to get on the new time zone A.S.A.P. If I will land in the morning; I would want to land rested and ready for the day so I would stay awake at the beginning of the flight pending the length of course and sleep as much as possible towards the end, waking up just before landing. If I will land in the evening; I would nap on boarding for as long as required then try to stay awake for the remainder of the flight. That way when I land I will be able to go to bed at a reasonable time for the new time zone.
On arrival: One of 3 methods
- 1. If I will be in the new time zone for more than a few days, this is when I really want to get onto the new time as quickly as possible. So 2 options…
a) If I land in the morning, I want to stay up all day so as to go to sleep at an appropriate time for my new location. As such, I will get to my accomodation, drop my belongings and start my day again. Morning rituals and supplements, shower, light breakfast or lunch then head to the gym for light to moderate session. Physical activity, although a true challenge helps no end to reinvigorate me and help me stay alert . With jet lag I listen to my body. I would either do some light to moderate weights, never heavy, or have a day of cardio, HIIT/LISS/steps/a local class or a rest day if I’m absolutely shattered. Then…I get stuck into activities. I try to choose something that is outdoors as the sunlight will help me feel awake and also something interactive. Talking to people, either friends or randos helps. Book dinner for early evening. Nap in the afternoon if required, but always set an alarm, leave the curtains open and don’t sleep more than an hour. Get ready, head to dinner, return to the accomodation and pass out directly for a solid 8 hrs. Time zone adjusted…Tick!
b) If I arrive in the evening. I want to prepare myself as best as possible for sleep. Get a snack if required. I never go to bed hungry especially if its the wrong time for sleep as I don’t want to wake in the middle of the night ravenous, unable to sleep and with possibly no food available. Get to my accomodation, make the room cool, dark and quiet. I take a magnesium supplement, BioCeuticals Ultra Night Muscle Ease before bed. Its great for muscle relaxation, sleeplessness and restlessness. If I’m not tired at all I may consider also having a melatonin for some extra sleep assistance. Melatonin is a naturally secreted hormone that affects the bodies circadian rhythms and can help get to sleep and stay asleep. Shower, get into bed, avoid TV, phone, iPad or other devices in favour of a book and prepare for sleep. Then, use shades, ear plugs and mediation as required to aid the process.
- 2. If I’ll only be on the timezone for short time before returning to my original time, I either stay on my home time or if the trip goes via a mid way point e.g. dubai-europe-U.S.A-europe-Dubai, I would choose the European time zone as its in the middle and stick to that. This method may have me wake and sleep a bit earlier or later than normal and leave me feeling a little shattered but I find it the easiest for the return to my home time and also to combat hunger, fatigue, energy levels, bodily functions and alertness.
- 3. Sleep when I’m tired. I’ll be honest…I would rarely do this but it is an option. It is on the proviso that I don’t have to work when I arrive and that things are available to eat, drink and do at all hours of the day and night.
There is no hard and fast rule that works everytime, I just listen to my body and make the best of what I’ve got💋.