Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure the further your trip the more chance you stand of being caught out by jet lag. Some are lucky and never seem to be affected. However, for others jet lag can be quite severe and something that we really would prefer to avoid.
Some people say that it actually takes the body one day per time zone that we cross to fully recover! That is great as I calculate that I am now on a 12 hour flight that crosses 6 time zones all for a 6 day trip! So my body will have just recovered by the time I am boarding my return journey!
This is why it is so important to actually minimize the effects jet lag has on us. After all ,if you are traveling on business, you need to arrive fresh and ready for the heavy schedule. If you are on vacation, well, you deserve every minute you can get, right?! Here we will look at a few ideas that should help to ease the strain.
With increased air traffic, a lot of airlines, especially on their long haul services, have actually introduced twice daily flights, one which normally departs in the evening and another the daytime. The airlines will sell you the advantages of both, and it is true that they both do have very strong support. However, it very much depends which direction you are travelling in and whether you are an active flyer or a ‘wake me up when we land’ sort. Let’s use the Hong Kong to London route as an example, which a lot of airlines offer two flights a day. If you leave in the evening you will arrive in London in the early morning. However, if you take the daytime service, you will arrive late evening in London.
This means with the daytime service you have 13 hours or so to fill. Sleeping is not really advisable as you will need to do that when you arrive in London in the evening. As we all know, airline movies can be good, but the chances are if you travel frequently, or watch movies a lot, then you may have already seen most of them. You can work, of course, but does the airline you are flying with have laptop electric supplies? Otherwise ,you may be restricted to a couple of hours or so. This is where the initial problem lies, because if you do fall asleep, then chances are you will find it difficult to get to sleep that evening in London. This would then worsen the jet lag effect and possibly ruin the next day for you due to fatigue.
The opposite is of course true for the evening service. You can sleep as you are aided by the fact that your body clock is saying that you should. Then when you awake, you will hopefully be refreshed and ready to work after a nice hot shower.
Today, airlines are going out of their way to ensure that you have a comfortable flight and that you arrive as fresh as possible at the other end. The leading airlines offer a total bed experience, which is where the seat will go all the way back flat, duvets, and pillows are offered, plus pajamas, etc. This is now par for the course in First Class with Singapore Airlines and British Airways being among the first to offer it. Virgin is also in the process of installing seat/beds, and being Virgin, they are taking it one step further and will have double/seat beds for those that would like a bit of a cuddle ! The airlines also offer arrival lounges compared to the standard departure lounge, which are for first and business class passengers. These arrival lounges have full shower facilities so that you can arrive and freshen up without even having left the airport! All these services are a great help, but what is there that you can do to help yourself?
Firstly, avoid alcohol in flight. With the pressurized air in the cabin, your body dehydrates substantially, and alcohol affects the body clock by not giving you a full and refreshing sleep. In fact, try to drink as much water as possible. Just ask the flight attendant for a large bottle and keep it by your seat so you can take sips whenever you want.
Drinking a lot of water will also help in other ways. It is highly recommended to move around when in-flight, walk up and down the plane, do dome stretching exercises, to keep the blood circulating and stop the joints from stiffening. While seated, swirl your ankles around from time to time.
Again, depending on which direction you are traveling, whether east or west, and how much sleep you require, you should set your watch to the local time of your destination as you board and sleep according to that. This helps your body to start the change in its body clock, which is so important when combating jet lag. Let’s say for example that you are flying from Bangkok to Paris. When you board the plane, you should set your clock to Paris time and try not to sleep until it is close to sleeping time in Paris.
When you do arrive at your destination and it is day time, try not to go to sleep, no matter how tired you are. Instead, try to go outdoors and into the sunshine if possible. This helps to alter your body clock and will mean you will be back to normal a lot quicker. One of the first hotels to offer a jet lag service was the Okura Hotel in Tokyo. They would offer the guests a special bright light in their rooms, special food designed to help the body clock, massages and a whole load of other things, all so that you could be refreshed and ready to go as soon as possible.
If you can’t resist and your eyelids are drooping and you feel more and more tired, then set your alarm for four hours time, have a very hot bath, and then jump into bed.
Sweet dreams and happy traveling !