It’s getting darker and colder by the day and, even though there’s the fun and excitement of the festive season to look forward to – well, let’s face it, that will be over long before these dark days are, so who could blame you if you’re planning a winter sun getaway?
With sunshine most reliably to be found in the opposite hemisphere, jet lag poses a genuine threat to your Vitamin D top-up schemes. Falling asleep in the sun and getting hideously burnt is one holiday disaster you can do without; crawling to your room in daylight for a nap and finding yourself – ping! – wide awake after nightfall is another. Jet lag can’t be completely avoided but its effects can certainly be minimised – so if you want to keep time zone and body clock issues in check and prevent them from scuppering your plans, here’s how:
Drink Up – water, that is. You know how horrible you feel when you’re dehydrated at ground level?Well, pressurised cabin air rapidly dehydrates passengers, so take that ground level feeling, multiply it and then add the body-clock confusion to it and you have one great big ‘ugh’. Hydration is key to how you’ll feel when you land; while you’re at it, keep your face, hands and lips moisturised too.
Avoid Alcohol – on the same note, you’re best to give booze a wide berth. Yes, a few G&Ts may relax you and yes, you may see them as an easy way to induce a jet lag-busting snooze, but it won’t be a properly restful one – added to which, alcohol makes the aforementioned dehydration even worse. Altitude is known to increase the effects of alcohol, meaning that those few drinks can leave you feeling less ‘pleasantly relaxed’ and more ‘properly drunk’. Don’t be that person.
Ditch the Caffeine – yep, it’s the dehydration thing again – caffeine is notorious for it. Caffeine is also a stimulant, which is no bad thing after a late night or before a big deadline – but messing with your natural sleep patterns is not advised in the fight against jet lag.
Fly by Night – this may not always be possible, but if the option to take an overnight flight exists, it’s certainly worth considering. It’s much easier to get your body into the new sync if you’ve had the equivalent – or thereabouts – of a night’s sleep beforehand. Whether you arrive at your destination in the morning or later in the day, try to push through the daylight hours until nightfall – even if it means going to sleep a few hours earlier than you usually would for the first couple of nights.
Up with the Lark – of course, the flip side of this is that you may be wide awake at the crack of dawn. Don’t fight it – it’s a positive. Getting outside and exploring your destination in those quieter hours – cafes tables being set out, market stalls being set up – are some of the things that makes your experience of a destination more than just “a holiday.”
Look at the Sun – exposing yourself to sunlight when you land makes it easier for your body to understand what’s expected of it, and to differentiate day from night. Flagging after lunch? Resist the siren song of the siesta and force yourself to go for a walk – or better yet, a jog, in the afternoon light.
Vits & Needles – an immunity boosting vitamin injection can help you to land feeling fit and well, delivering high concentrations of beneficial vitamins directly into the bloodstream. Vitamin Injections London recommends a pre-trip Vitamin C injection to help protect against all of those germs festering in the pressure cooker and stale air of the cabin – colds and flus are common traveller issues – while a B Complex Cell Repair shot helps with hydration, as well as elevating both energy and mood. Each shot is priced at £100.
Eat well – airline food doesn’t tend to be something that we actively look forward to, but there are still choices you can make which will help your body to cope with the time difference. Stodgy food is hard to digest, which in turn can disrupt your sleep: opt, where possible, for complex carbohydrates, green vegetables and proteins. Keep this up when you land and your body – and sleep patterns – will thank you for it.
Take a pill – avoid medication: sure, prescription pills may knock you out but the grogginess will leave you feeling just as whacked as jet lag. Jet Candy is a homeopathic remedy, containing ingredients such as arnica and cocculus, which reduces dehydration, fatigue and other issues stemming from the disruption of circadian rhythms. Priced at £12.99, it comes in a carry-on-friendly dispenser and helps your body clock to reset, naturally.
Take off – of course, if you can afford to upgrade to business class, you’re almost always going to arrive feeling more refreshed than you will from economy. However some, newer, aircrafts have been specifically designed with minimising jet lag in mind regardless of seating. Vietnam Airlines’ Dreamliner 787-9, which is used on the London to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City routes, combine high ceilings, large windows and a series of lighting modes to mimic day-night. According to a Vietnam Airlines spokesperson, more advanced features, such as lower cabin air-pressure and optimal humidity are employed to make the flight feel more similar to being on the ground – thus helping to reduce the effects of jet lag. It’s just a short hop to the paradise beaches of Phu Quoc from Ho Chi Minh City, so this is definitely worth bearing in mind!
Plan ahead – start getting on board with your new time zone before your even leave your current one. Adjusting your body, little by little, to the clocks that govern your destination, may help to make the shift more manageable. Similarly, switch to destination time as soon as you board the plane – not just on your watch or phone, but mentally. And for goodness sake, turn off all of your alarms and make sure that when you’re ready to sleep on local time, you put your phone to silent – the last thing you need, when you’ve just drifted off, is a blaring ringtone signalling that a well-meaning friend is dialling you for an ill-timed chat.