Beating jet lag naturally

For some, jet lag is just a minor nuisance. But for frequent long distance travellers, it can affect not only energy levels and sleep, but also appetite, physical alertness and performance for many days a year. Thankfully, there are many things you can to do to reduce the effects of jet lag. 

Here are some top picks from the experts. 

1. Plan ahead. When booking flights, choose long haul flights that land around early evening, as this will minimise the chances of jet lag symptoms.

2. On the day of the flight, eat light meals and minimise caffeine and alcohol intake - dehydration only fuels jet lag symptoms such as headaches, poor concentration and gastric problems.

3. During your flight try to sleep according to your destination’s time zone rather than the time zone you’re leaving.

4. Have an ‘anchor sleep’. This means aiming for a minimum block of four hours’ sleep during the local night. This is thought to be necessary to help you adapt to a new time zone. If possible, make up the total sleep time by taking naps during the day.

5. For shorter trips (less than three or four days) some experts recommend remaining on "home time" (that is, timing activities such as sleeping and eating to occur at the times they would have occurred at home) to minimise the disruption to the normal sleep-wake cycle.

6. Spend as much time outdoors as possible in your new destination to allow your body to reset to the natural daylight body clock. 

7. Avoid using sleeping pills as much as possible. Consider natural alternatives such as melatonin to help regulate your body clock.

Written by Ruth Tongue
(MSc Nutrition)