How to minimise jet lag

You love travel. That’s why you’re reading this post. And we all like different things when it comes to travel, for instance destinations, modes of getting around, and budget. But if there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s our dislike of jet lag.

After all, there’s nothing quite like being cooped up on a plane for 12 hours or even more, crossing through multiple time zones and ending up at your destination as an insomniac by night and a lethargic sloth by day, especially when your trip is only a few weeks in total.

I used to suffer enormously from jet lag, but as I traveled more I began to change my ways and picked up a few tips that I want to share with you. I categorise these tips into two groups: Obvious and Not So Obvious.

Obvious Tips:

  • Try to fly west instead of east, when possible. Generally, flying west is easier on the body.
  • Talk to your doctor about sleeping pills. (Before I’m reprimanded for saying this, I accept no responsibility for Deep Vein Thrombosis or any other possible side effect – that’s why I suggest you talk to your doctor).
  •  Stay hydrated with water before, during and after your flight.
  • Go on a big walk or hit the gym the day before your flight.
  • If it’s night-time at your destination, try to sleep with the aid of eye-shades, neck support, a blanket, noise-cancelling headphones and relaxing music like Enya and Fleetwood Mac.
  • If it’s daytime at your destination but night-time on the flight, play some upbeat, lively music and watch an action film.
  • Take a big outdoor walk or hit the hotel gym when you arrive at your destination. Get some sunlight, drink lots of water and stay up until at least 8.30pm.

No So Obvious Tips:

  • Get some Vitamin D pills and start on a daily course about a week before you depart, and keep it up as long as you need to. Vitamin D is some of the good stuff that we get from the sun, and it also helps the immune system so prepares the body better for the stresses of travel.
  • Put your watch/clock to the destination time as soon as you board. If you have a transit stop, ignore it and set the time as the final destination.
  • As soon as you take off, close your eyes and visualise yourself at the destination, on the destination time. Is it 3am? You are asleep. Is it 7am? You are waking up and having breakfast.
  • If it’s night-time at your destination, have a glass of wine. If it helps you sleep, why not? Just ensure you drink plenty of water too. 
  • Eat as if you’re at the destination time zone. Sometimes I pretend that dinner is actually breakfast.
  • What you eat is critical. Of you want to sleep, carbs are great, but if you want to stay awake, stay off the carbs!
  • Freshen up with a moist towel. Feeling fresh and clean means feeling awake.
  • If it’s daytime when you arrive, spend a bit of time in the sun without sunglasses. Our eyes play a big part in absorbing sunlight and this can help with regulating the body clock.
  • Have a light dinner to help you sleep on your first night. Avoid dairy or meat after 6pm.
  • Have a high-protein, low GI breakfast on the first day after you arrive. It’ll help with maintaining your energy levels during the day so you’ll be back to your usual routine in no time.

2 thoughts on “How to minimise jet lag

  1. Esther says:

    This will come in handy for us next year – thanks Solange.

  2. Solange says:

    Most welcome 🙂 Always keen to hear new tips too so feel free to share your own ones! x

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