How to deal with dreaded jet lag
Anyone who has flown long haul through a number of time zones will have probably experienced Jet Lag. This is the condition characterised by various physiological and psychological effects (such as irritability and fatigue), which results from a disruption of the natural circadian rhythm (or body clock).
The more time zones we cross the harder it is to adjust. The basic issue is that our body clock including our sleep wake cycle is set to the destination we have just left, and we want to be able to instantly adjust to the time zone we are arriving in.
What can you do to reduce the likelihood and the impact of jet lag? Here, naturopath, sleep expert and Gluco ambassador, Dave Gibson shares some top tips:
Adjust to the new time zone before you leave
This would mean going to bed and getting up earlier if you are going East (and eating earlier too). If you are going West, you would shift everything later. The best solution is to make these changes over several days. Shifting your bedtime and awakening time closer to your destinations time over a few days minimizes the effects of jet lag as it helps resets your internal body clock. Of course if you are travelling at the weekend it’s easier to move times than during workdays.
The best way to travel is East to West, as in general our body clocks find it easier to extend the day (we naturally run slightly longer than 24 hours) than shorten it. It’s a lot harder to go to sleep when you aren’t tired than try to stay awake for example.
Pack early and chill out for 48 hours before you fly
Give yourself 48 hours of down time before you fly, to relax down to your holiday pace, and pack 48 hours before you leave. This then gives you two full days to prepare for your long haul flight. This means that you arrive at the airport rested rather than stressed.
Eat and sleep for the destination on the flight
Continue to set your system to run at the time in the zone you are going to rather than leaving from. Put your watch forward to the time you will be using when you land as soon as you get on the plane. Think forward not back and don’t think about the time back home at all. Avoid caffeine on the flight if you will be going to sleep within 8 hours of getting off the plane. Alcohol too is best left alone as it can lead to dehydration and disrupts deep sleep. Dehydration is a symptom of jet lag, always drink lots of water on the flight. If you suffer poor circulation DVT socks can be used as they improve circulation (which is a side effect of Jet Lag). Eat right for the destination too – so if you get on a night flight, but it’s morning in your destination, eat breakfast-type foods to help reset the stomach as well as the brain. If you feel tired when you should be awake on the flight, try sucking a Gluco tab which give you a boost of natural Glucose and are completely caffeine and nasty free.
Avoid napping when you arrive
Set yourself to local time by adjusting your meals to match your environment. If you are trying to stay awake get out in the sunlight and fresh air. Try to avoid taking a nap if you are trying to stay awake later. If you have to nap limit it to 20 minutes only as more can interrupt your main sleep.
Getting the light right
In the morning try to get outside as soon as you can after you awake as it helps set your body clock to the new time zone. If you are getting to your destination in the early evening, dim your lights, eat lightly, and engage in relaxing activity
First night effect
Another issue with travelling and trying to sleep in a new bed is something called first night effect, the stress of which can keep you awake. Bringing a pillow or a blanket with you can help, or even a photograph or picture from home.
This effect is caused by the sense that something or someone will wake you up. Anticipating a noise from the corridor, or a phone waking you up would be one such projection. Eliminate as much light from the room as possible. Hang towels over blinds if necessary and roll them up to block light coming from under doorways. Turn your phone off, or put on silent and bring ear plugs and night masks. All of these things will help ease you to sleep and keep you asleep.
One of the side effects of Jet Lag is that our gut bacteria (our digestive system’s inner eco-system or microbiome) are thrown out of balance, with the wrong bacteria taking over. A probiotic can help get this system back on track.
Choose caffeine free pick-me-ups
Caffeine and energy drinks can play havoc with your system and disrupt sleep. Glucose is the perfect source to give you that little boost without the nasties of caffeine. GLUCOTABS and GLUCOISO are the perfect travel accessory to help adjust to different time zones and reduce the feelings of jet lag. Available in most major supermarkets and pharmacies.