How to cope with jetlag
Jetlag can ruin the start of your adventure in a new country. There's no cure for it but there are ways of dealing with it.
You touch down on the next leg of your gap year experience, but the quick change of time zones means you’re feeling fatigued, tired, can’t sleep at night and suffering from headaches.
This is known as jetlag and without taking the right precautions, it could really put a downer on the first few days of your trip.
Why do we get jetlag?
Our internal body clock controls when we feel sleepy and when we feel active. It’s controlled by daylight so we get used to a regular rhythm of daylight and darkness. But when you’re travelling the world, and through different time zones, your body clock will be out of sync with local time when you reach your destination.
The bad news is there’s no cure for jetlag. Within two to six days, usually, you’ll start to feel better. But if you’ve travelled a long distance to your next destination, it can take up to 14. But the good news is there are ways to cope with jetlag that lowers the impact.
Adjust your body clock
Before you leave for your next travel destination, try shifting your internal clock. It may be hard when there are a million things to do in such little time, but try getting up and going to bed slightly earlier if you’re flying east, for example, to Australia or getting up and going to bed later if you’re flying west, for example, to America.
If you’re flying in the evening, don’t sleep too much, so you’ll be naturally tired when you arrive. But if your flight arrives in the morning, sleep as much as possible during the flight so you can stay awake through the day. The minute you touch down on the next leg of your travels, get into the local routine immediately. Try to fight through and spend the day outdoors. Natural light can also help your body clock adjust.
While there are no medicines available for jetlag, medical research suggests that the hormone melatonin can be useful to people who are travelling across time zones. Speak to your GP for more information.
Five tips for coping with jetlag
- Eat carbohydrates and greens before your flight to help build up your body’s defences
- Don’t drink alcohol and coffee before or during your flight – this causes dehydration which contributes to jetlag
- Drink plenty of water – at least one glass every hour will keep you regularly hydrated
- Walk around during your flight to exercise
- Eat in-flight meals to mirror the time at your destination