Sleepless night and hazy days on holiday – be gone! Already dreading your next long-haul flight? Then keep reading as Professor Dorothy Bruck from the Sleep Health Foundation shares her expert tips on how to combat jetlag so you can get the most of your next holiday!
Get adjusted to the time difference
A few days before your leave for your trip start thinking about what time it is at your destination and start to reset your body-clock closer to the new time. If you are traveling from east to west, for instance from Australia to the Middle East or Europe, your body clock needs to be delayed so you should try to wake up a couple of hours later and go to bed later. If you are going west to east, say from Australia to the US, you need to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier.
A really helpful tool to help your body-clock combat jetlag is the app Entrain, which has been developed by researchers at the University of Michigan. By typing in your sleeping habits and your new destination, it will recommend how you can best adapt to the new environment with the help of daylight exposure. Research shows every one-hour time distance takes one day for your body clock to readjust to, so a nine-hour time difference can take nine days! However, by following the tips in the app, you can scale the readjustment period down to four days.
For short trips, stay on home time
If you are away from home for less than three days, try to eat when you would usually eat at home, try to sleep when you would usually sleep at home and try to not go outside when it is dark at home. So if you are, for instance, going to a business meeting in India for three days it is better to stay on Australian time.
Come prepared to your flight; bring earplugs, an eye mask, a neck pillow and maybe your own water bottle so you don't have to be reliant on the flight attendants to bring water – it's important to stay hydrated during your flight. Wear comfortable layers of clothes, so it's easy to remove and add clothes so you won't get too hot or too cold.
Say no to pills
Avoid taking sleeping tables when you fly because they increase the chances of remaining immobile, which increases your chances of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). When you sleep on a plane it is likely to be a broken sleep, so every time you wake up, try to get up or at least wiggle your ankles and toes to get your blood flowing.
If you're watching movies during your flight, be aware that the blue light from the screen will reduce your melatonin levels, making it more difficult for you to fall sleep. If you can, turn down the brightness of your screen, and turn off your inflight entertainment system at least an hour before you are planning to go to asleep.
Become a local asap
The arrival time is much more important than the departure time when it comes to adjusting your body clock. Try to become a local as soon as possible; eat when the locals eat and to go to sleep when the locals go to sleep. Sunlight is an important factor in resetting the body clock, so if you're trying to stay awake, get outdoors as much as you can!
Take a short nap
If you're struggling to stay awake until night time in your new destination, take a nap – however, set your alarm and make sure you don't sleep for more than two hours, and that you're awake for at least two hours before you go to bed. That means, don't take a nap at 7pm!
Do some exercise.
Getting the blood pumping will help to revitalise when you arrive and reset your body clock. You should exercise during daylight hours, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon and not too close to bedtime.