Jet lag can be an absolute killer for your holiday. You’re tired at the wrong times, hungry at the wrong times, you’re never sure what time of the day it is and you feel permanently nauseous. We’ve been on countless long haul flights, and over time I’ve figured out the best ways to avoid the dreaded jet lag and settle into your new time zone comfortably. Here are my tips on how to get over jet lag for good.
‘West is best, East is a Beast’ really is true when it comes to jet lag. Even if you’ve flown to the Americas without any problems, flying to Asia can be very different. The main piece of advice I can give you is that your first night’s sleep at your destination is the most important! Remember this. Let this be your flying mantra.
To avoid jet lag you just need to focus on getting a good, long, restful first night’s sleep. This will get your body clock reset to your new time zone and make the start of the trip a lot easier and more enjoyable. From booking the flight to getting into bed at your hotel, keep thinking about how you’re going to get that first delicious night’s sleep and wake up feeling ready to hit the streets of your new city, not hit the snooze button 45 times.
Here are my tried and tested top tips at every stage from booking to landing – I absolutely swear by them!
- Choose your arrival time carefully
- Get in the zone
- Get Comfortable
- Stay hydrated
- Skip the sugar
- Don’t go overboard with alcohol
- Don’t sleep until bedtime
- My thoughts on sleeping tablets
While you’re here, find out more tips on how to fly comfortably
Choose your arrival time carefully
When booking a flight, especially expensive long haul ones, it can be very easy to overlook the timings and focus on trying to get the cheapest price. Taking a bit of time to think through your departure / arrival times can help to make the journey a little bit easier and give you a better start to your trip. Look at your flight times in the destination time zone rather than the departure time zone, it will help you decide which flight to get.
Do you find it easy to get good quality sleep on a plane? Are you the kind of person that falls asleep before take off and can’t stay awake on a long haul flight even if they wanted to? (I find it SO hard to sleep on planes so this seems insane to me, but those people do exist!) If that’s the case then it may be better for you to book an overnight flight – overnight in the destination time zone and not your departure time zone. That way you can sleep on the flight and stay awake for the following day.
If, like me, you find it difficult to sleep on planes then that’s ok! Being awake on a long haul flight is awesome! You get free food, free drinks, countless movies to watch, and you can blog, journal, plan your itinerary, or read that book that you’ve been meaning to read forever. Book a flight that lands in the evening so you can stay awake guilt-free on the flight and arrive in your destination knowing you can be asleep in a few hours.
Get In The Zone
As soon as you arrive at the departure gate set your phone, watch, and any other devices to the destination time zone. From now on stay mentally in that zone. Your departure time zone doesn’t matter now, mentally you’re already at your destination. Don’t let yourself start counting backwards or forwards thinking about what time it is at home, it will just confuse you and make you feel tired or hungry when you shouldn’t. You would be surprised at how quickly your mind will respond to registering this new time, I always start to feel super tired if I set my phone to 10pm even though it’s 1pm where I am.
Whether you want to sleep or not, you’re still going to be sitting still for a very long time so you will want to be as comfortable as possible. Bring cosy socks and clothes to change into after take off, wrap yourself up in a blanket and get yourself as comfortable and warm as you can. Primark / Penneys is a great place to pick up cheap and cosy clothes and socks that you can fly in, or if you’re in Australia then Cotton On is where I bought my favourite flight clothes.
If you have an overnight flight and need to sleep then I would definitely recommend buying a good sleeping mask – I use this one and I love it! Ear plugs are a great way to block out noise and although I don’t use them, some people can’t sleep without a neck pillow. If I need to sleep I don’t look at any screens and instead put on my eye mask and listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast. I use Audible for audiobooks – it gives you a free book of your choice too if you sign up for their 30 day trial so give that a go for your next flight. If you don’t usually listen to podcasts then give them a try too, there are some really interesting ones out there. I love This American Life, Serial, My Dad Wrote a Porno, and Bitch Sesh. Looking at my phone or watching a movie doesn’t tend to get me into a restful sleep so I just avoid them altogether!
Flying can leave your whole body super dehydrated so bring supplies on board to combat this. I always bring at least 3 litres of water on board with me for a long haul flight and drink them consistently throughout the flight. Since I started doing this I feel SO much better after I land! Dehydration can leave you feeling fatigued and nauseous so make sure you drink as much as possible during your flight! I know you can ask the stewards for water but you only get those tiny plastic cups so it’s easier to bring your own big bottles on board.
My skin can get quite dry when I fly so I make sure to bring lots of moisturiser with me in my flight bag as well as lip balm and hand cream. Some people find their eyes get dry so eye drops can be a good thing to have with you if that’s the case.
Skip The Sugar
People hate this bit of advice but don’t pick up any sugary snacks to bring on the plane with you. These kind of foods spike your blood sugar giving you a burst of energy (not good if you want to sleep) followed by a huge energy dip and fatigue (not great if you want to stay awake). Try to keep your energy levels pretty steady, and after all you’re just sitting in a chair for 10-12 hours, you don’t really need that much energy or food.
Bringing healthy snacks or a packed lunch on board is fine, especially if you have allergies or dietary restrictions which mean you can’t have plane food. Airlines carefully plan the times that they deliver meals and snacks on a long haul flight to get you adjusted to your new time zone, so even if you do bring your own meals on board try to eat when they serve food.
Don’t go overboard with alcohol
Most blogs will tell you to avoid alcohol altogether on a flight but I’m going to be realistic here. You’re about to head off on your dream trip, your out of office is on, you’re excited, you’re happy and alcohol is being offered to you for free. You’re probably going to have a drink – and that’s totally fine! Just try not to drink too much, too quickly and have lots of water too. Hangovers suck, but hangovers with a side of jet lag? Hell.
When you arrive, don’t sleep until bedtime
I’ve been prompted to write this post after a 12 hour flight from London to Singapore, where we arrived early in the morning after only around an hour’s sleep. I had stuck to my usual anti-jet lag routine but was feeling completely wrecked and I remembered the one key thing I had to do – stay out of bed!!! Your body will be craving sleep, but get out in the fresh air, eat good nutritious food and beat the tiredness back until the sun goes down. It’s so tempting to check into your hotel room, crawl under the covers and fall asleep, but if you do that you’re going to be awake all night and back in the same situation the next day.
Hop in the shower to wake yourself up, get dressed and head out into the sunshine to keep yourself awake. I know it’s tough when you’re completely wrecked – we were like two zombies walking around Singapore yesterday, but last night we got a great 8 hours of sleep and I’m feeling really good now. We did wake up at 5am, but that’s ok too, it gave me time to write this post before breakfast. Over the next few days we can let our bodies adjust and our sleep schedule will get a little later.
My thoughts on sleeping tablets
If you have an overnight flight and have trouble sleeping on planes then you might be tempted to take a sleeping tablet so that you don’t arrive feeling completely exhausted. This isn’t something I would recommend based on experience, but it works for some people. I found that taking a sleeping tablet left me feeling fuzzy and a little out of it the next day anyway so it didn’t do anything to help my jet lag – it made it worse. I have taken an antihistamine (the drowsy kind) on flights to help me sleep and I found these better.
So those are my tips for beating the dreaded jet lag! I hope this post helps if you’re heading off on a long haul flight soon, give them a go and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading!