It happens to many of us after enduring a long haul flight; a persistent, groggy feeling which creeps up on you during the day, and then when it is time for bed you’re wide awake and can’t sleep. Jet lag is undoubtedly an annoying problem, not to mention having an unwelcome impact on your holiday, but worse still, it’s not just people on gruelling flights to the USA or Europe who are affected. The dreaded jet lag can even strike when you travel through smaller time zones, even if that difference is only an hour or two. There are a number of things you can do to ease the problem and symptoms, however. For small time changes, one option is to shift your body clock closer to the new time zone beginning a few days before you depart on your trip. For example, if your destination is three hours behind your home town, go to bed an hour or so later, and get up an hour or so later than usual. Just make sure you don’t miss your flight on the day!
For bigger time differences you can consider taking a melatonin supplement; if you don’t know, melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that facilitates our ability to sleep, especially if you need to go to bed earlier than you usually do. Other useful options to combat jet lag include focussing on daylight and taking brief naps. Exposing yourself to natural light in your new time zone can help reset your biological clock, and trick your body into believing it should be awake, but if you can’t get outside for some reason, a brightly lit room during the day can be a substitute. And if you’re fond of naps, a 30-minute to one-hour snooze can be beneficial as it will revitalise you enough to stay awake through the day and have a chance of having a good night’s rest – just don’t overdo it. What you eat and drink can also play a role with jet lag, especially caffeine in drinks and coffee; don’t rely on it too much to keep you alert during the day as it could also impact on your sleep at night. Another one to avoid is alcohol and eating heavy or rich meals too close to bedtime.