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How to recover from jetlag

How to recover from jetlag

Jetlag can be incredibly frustrating. Not only can it cut into the time you have on your holiday, but it can also be a nightmare when you return home and have to immediately settle back into everyday life, and catch up on the weeks’ worth of washing and unpacking, not to mention going back to work. Quite simply, it is a massive inconvenience. If you are going away to a country where there is a large time difference, read on for our tips on how to quickly recover from jetlag.

First of all, we can start by looking exactly at what jetlag is and how it has been caused. It can occur any time you travel across two or more time zones in a short amount of time. In general, the more time zones that you cross, the more likely you are to be affected by jetlag, which can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. It can take a while to recover from jetlag, particularly if you are an adult and are travelling for a longer period of time, but rest assured that it is only a temporary sleep disorder; however it may not feel like it at the time that you are experiencing it! Jetlag tends to be worse when you are travelling from west to east, and effectively ‘lose time’ rather than when you are travelling from east to west.

Do not disturbThere are many different factors that actually cause jetlag, but it generally occurs because your body has been thrown off of its natural body clock pattern that controls when we wake up and subsequently fall asleep at night. Many everyday factors can affect this anyway, such as light exposure (which can be the reason that many people feel tired on winter mornings, and cannot sleep during the summer months), mealtimes, social engagements and other activities, but it is these factors that will also determine our own routine. So, naturally when you pass over into a new time zone, your internal time and the external time will be completely different and desynchronised. It takes time in order for your body to adapt to the new routine, which is why you are likely to spend a few days of your holiday, and likewise when you are home feeling incredibly sluggish and tired. Incidentally, reports have also suggested that flying in itself can trigger and aggravate any jetlag that you might be experiencing. The pressure in the cabins when you are flying at a height above 8,000 feet will lower the oxygen in your blood, which can make passengers feel uncomfortable and dehydrated. Combine this with the fact that you do not move around as much as you would normally when you are on an aeroplane, it can increase symptoms of jetlag.

But do not let this put you off travelling anywhere with a different time zone. There are a few important tricks and hints that you can take on board (pardon the pun!) that will ensure you recover from any disturbance to you natural body clock. The following can be adapted either before you leave for your holidays, or after you have arrived home. They are just designed to try and keep the disturbance to your body clock to a minimum.

Try and adapt to your new routine a little while before you leave for your holiday, and if you are going to be at your destination for a long time; before you come home. This can be incredibly simple and does not have to be a massive change to your daily routine; something as simple as moving your bedtime either forward or backwards. If you are travelling east, you should be moving your bedtime earlier by half an hour for a few nights before you leave. If you are travelling west, obviously do the opposite. It is also worth just moving your mealtimes slightly as well. Doing this, even if it is a little inconvenient for the time that you are doing it at home, or for the last few days of your holiday, it will be worth it when you can carry on as normal back home. When you are actually on the plane, try then to also adapt to your new schedule. You should change your watch, to help you psychologically prepare for the change in time zones, and to help get you in the right mind set. If you are getting an overnight flight, use that time to sleep. Although some people find it difficult, especially if you are excited about your travels, it is the perfect opportunity, especially if it is a long haul flight. If you cannot get to sleep, just try and relax as much as you can, and do not let yourself get worked up at the fact you cannot sleep.

PlaneOne of the most important things you should be doing is eating and drinking properly. This means drinking water before and during your flight, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine before you go to sleep, as this will dehydrate you and disrupt your sleep. As well as keeping yourself hydrated, it is important that you eat properly in the run up to any flights. Although there are many different diets that frequent flyers swear by, it is advisable to avoid a high carb or a fatty diet before you go to sleep, as you may find that you do not sleep as well afterwards. Whilst we are focusing on bedtimes, there are many things that you can do to help relax you before you can go to sleep. Take a nice relaxing bath as this can help you wind down, and relax muscles from travelling. Having a bath will raise your body temperature, causing it to drop when you get out, which also makes you feel a little sleepy. You can also minimise any sleep distractions, particularly if you are going to sleep earlier than you normally do. Think about eye masks and earplugs. You might also find that these help you on the plane should you try and sleep.

The above are all very easy, effective ways for you to help your body prepare and recover from jetlag. Simple lifestyle changes in the run up and immediately after your holiday can make a massive difference and none of them involve spending any money. This way, you can still enjoy your holiday, and be functional when you get home! 

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