It’s the bane of every long haul flyer, not an illness, but a combination of fatigue and other symptoms caused by travelling quickly across different time zones. So what can travellers do to fend off the dreaded jet lag? People have different symptoms when they suffer from it, but common ones include fatigue, sleepiness, difficulty making decisions, impaired judgment, irritability and apathy. Add to that digestive upsets, and even memory lapses, and you have a sorry lineup of problems to deal with. Flying east or west can make a difference to jet lag, with experts believing that your body clock is less confused if you travel westbound, possibly down to a prolonging of the body clock’s experience of its normal day-night cycle, while travelling eastbound, tends to make things worse. Jet lag has no cure, but there are plenty of ways to minimise the symptoms, and reduce the longevity of the problem. When you’re on board your flight, they include adjusting to the new time zone after takeoff, minimising consumption of alcohol and caffeine, drinking plenty of water, and moving around the plane as much you can to keep your circulation active.
On arrival at your destination, some of the things you can do include adjusting to your new time zone immediately by exposing yourself to daylight, or using a bright light to help ‘reset’ your body clock. You should also avoid caffeinated drinks during the day, and alcohol or coffee for at least a few hours before you go to bed. Other suggestions include not using prescription medications to enforce sleep, passing up the opportunity for a daytime nap no matter how tired you’re feeling, and if you are really prone, using a white noise machine, which also helps to block out annoying noises while you try to sleep. Jet lag is very personal; how long a person suffers from it, and the symptoms they endure can vary dramatically. The key is to try a variety of methods and see what works for you. It may not eliminate all the pesky symptoms entirely, and it may not work perfectly every time you travel, but anything you can do to ensure feeling good on arrival, and during the first few days on holiday, is essential.