Travel

How to beat jet lag and avoid the common mistakes that make it worse

If you’re traveling into a significantly different timezone, here are some of the ways to help you beat jet lag, plus the mistakes to avoid when flying that could make your jet lag worse

how to recover from jet lag - mistakes to avoid for jet lag melatonin

Image: Dmitry Travnikov/123rf

#1 Sleeping on the plane

Trying to sleep on the plane shouldn’t always be the goal. It’s more important to keep in mind what time it is in the country or city you’re headed to. For example, if you’re getting on a plane at noon, but it’s midnight where you’re heading, then it’s important to try and get some sleep while it’s nighttime. If you have the opportunity, you can even start a day or two earlier by adjusting your sleep schedule to that of your destination.

And when you land, it’s going to be important to force yourself to adjust to the new timezone. That means trying not to nap unnecessarily, and staying awake until it’s a decent bedtime hour.

#2 Get comfortable on the plane

Whether you’re sleeping or staying awake through the flight, you’re going to want to put yourself at ease. That means more leg room if you’re tall, wearing comfortable clothes, or choosing the window seat if sleep is going to be your priority. The window seat allows you to prop a pillow against the window so you have a more comfortable angle to fall asleep in. A window seat also means you won’t be disturbed by other people needing to get to the toilet, and might even be able to enjoy the view.

In order to get comfortable, being able to lean back is really important. You should avoid seats that might not recline like certain seats in front of exit rows or at the back of the cabin. Also keep in mind that you don’t want to sit too near the toilets or the galleys which might be more busy and keep you awake.

#3 Don’t watch movies to fall asleep

Like we’ve mentioned in previous articles about how to sleep better at night and wake up looking your best, using electronic devices in bed can actually have an adverse effect on your sleep cycle. The screens on your devices tend to emit a blue-spectrum light that is going to trick your brain into thinking it should actually be alert and that can delay sleep instead of encouraging it.

So it’s a good idea to turn off your devices and allow your body to rest.

#4 Melatonin

Melatonin in supplement form is highly recommended for dealing with jetlag, because it gives your system a way to reset itself and for your body to adjust its circadian rhythm so you get back on track. Melatonin is actually a hormone that already exists in the body, controlling our sleep-wake cycle. Our melatonin levels increase at night, which tells our bodies it’s time for sleep.

Taking melatonin before night time to counter jet lag can give your body the boost it needs to gather its bearings, but it is also important that you consider your environment. If it’s daytime where you are, avoid staying indoors where the darkness can disrupt your sleep cycle further, and instead stay outdoors in the sunlight so your body knows it needs to stay awake.

#5 Caffeine

If caffeine keeps you awake, you might want to avoid it, even if it’s hours before your flight. Caffeine can stay in your system for quite a long time, and can make it more troublesome for you to get necessary rest on the plane.

#6 Alcohol

Some people feel sleepy after a glass or two of wine, which makes it seem like the natural option for getting to sleep quickly when you’re on a flight. In fact, the alcohol is going to dehydrate you and make you feel more groggy or leave you with a headache upon waking up. It’s hard enough to stay hydrated when you’re on a plane, there’s no need to throw alcohol into the mix, especially because it can give you a more restless sleep.

It’s important to hydrate if you do drink alcohol, but not so much that you end up going to the bathroom too often.

 

If you're looking to travel more next year, here are 9 ways Singaporeans can afford to travel every year. Can't think of where to travel to? We've got a list of the top 10 travel destinations Singaporeans are planning to visit this year. 

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