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How to Beat Jet Lag

At Alternative Airlines, we love air travel and everything about it. But, even we can admit that jet lag is a major downside to any trip where the time zone changes by three hours or more.

Jet lag will leave you feeling groggy, grumpy and grouchy. And, with more online tips on how to avoid jet lag than there are flights in a day, it can be tricky to figure out the best approach to take.

But, don’t stress. We’ve done all the hard work and compiled a list of the best tips to overcome jet lag, with expert advice from our own experience, as well as from other travel and sleep experts.

Jetlag tips

Women sleeping with a pillow at the airport

Adjust to sunlight

One of the best ways you can beat jet lag is to adjust to the sunlight in the destination that you’re visiting. Sleep fanatic Craig Anderson suggests “when in a new timezone, try to get outside for a walk in the morning, and at dusk. Using these natural environments help signal the time of day to your mind and body.”

So, make sure you stay outside and exposed to natural light on the first few days that you’re away. Although it might be tough when you’re tired, see it as another great reason to get out and watch the sunrise and sunset!

Sunset with a lake

Catch the red eye

red eye flight is a flight that departs in the evening (local time) and arrives in the morning (local time). If you can get a red eye flight and sleep for the entirety of your journey, you might be able to avoid jet lag altogether.

We understand that getting to sleep on the plane is easier said than done. So, here’s a few tips that will help you:

  • Drink water — Low cabin humidity and altitude of the plane makes you more susceptible to dehydration. Drink lots of water before and at the start of your flight so that you can stay hydrated and sleep easier
  • Avoid caffeine — Getting to sleep on a flight can be hard enough as it is, so don’t make it any harder by drinking caffeinated drinks before or during your flight. We know it might be hard to function for a morning flight without that much-needed early morning cup of coffee, but trust us, you’ll regret it when you’re tossing and turning in your seat
  • Buy in-flight accesories — Whether it’s a travel pillow, ear plugs or a sleep mask, in-flight accessories can help you get more comfortable and will make a great deal of difference
  • Choose a window seat — When you’re trying to get to sleep, the last thing you want is the people next to you waking you up so they can get past to the toilet, especially on long-haul flightsPre-booking your seat allows you to choose a seat next to a window and stops people from bothering you
  • Take a book for in-flight entertainment — In-flight TV screens and electronic devices produce blue light, which sends a message to the brain to be awake and alert. Blue light also stops your body from producing melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you sleep
  • Exercise — If you’re uncomfortable on the plane, you’re never going to get to sleep. Try our recommended in-flight exercises that keep your blood-flowing and the aches and pains away
  • Upgrade your travel class — If you can afford to, upgrade your travel class for a bigger and more comfortable seat. Although the lie-flat beds of First Class and Business Class are the best choice, even an upgrade to Premium Economy can make all the difference

Or, arrive in the evening/night

If you’re someone that just isn’t able to get to sleep on a plane — no matter how many different tricks you try — it might be better for you to get a flight that arrives in the evening or at night. Landing at night means that you can jump straight into bed when you arrive and not have to worry about messing up your sleeping pattern, as you’ll wake naturally the next morning on the same sleeping pattern that you left on.

Plane on runway at night

Get rest before your flight

Another tip for those who can’t sleep on the plane is to get good rest before your flight. If you don’t sleep on the flight and only get a few hours the night before, you’re at risk of becoming overtired and won’t feel refreshed when you eventually do get your first night’s sleep.

Don’t nap after your flight

Napping after your flight is a short-term gain but a long-term pain. If you do have a flight that arrives in the day, no matter how tired you are, don’t nap! Michael Kummier, who runs a diet, fitness and technology blog, says “whatever you do, resist the urge and don't take a nap! Going to sleep will keep your internal cycle on its home schedule and will make your jet lag worse.”

We’ll forgive you for having an early night, but stay awake for as long as you can before that!

Pick the right plane

Newer planes offer better conditions that are more similar to those on the ground. Two planes that have been hailed as the best are the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350. These jets are built with lighter materials that improve the cabin pressure, humidity and the cabin atmosphere and can make it feel like you’re flying at an altitude of up to 600 metres less than on other aircraft.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane in the air

Tip: You can easily check which aircraft you’ll be flying on before you book a flight with Alternative Airlines.

Fly a few days before

If you need to be well-rested and free of jet-lag on a specific day, consider flying a few days earlier than the event. Whether it be a business meeting, public holiday, wedding, or any other specific event, flying out early will give you time to adjust to the local time-zone.

Adjust your body clock pre-flight

One of the more extreme ways to combat jet lag is to sync your body to the time zone that you’re flying to in the days leading up to the flight. You can do this by gradually adjusting your sleeping patterns and meal times to match them with what they’ll be in the new time zone. Craig Anderson says that you can adjust your body clock -1/+1 hour a day, so, while it might be difficult to completely adjust your body to the new time-zone, you can at least get it closer than what it was before.

Adjust your actual clock pre-flight

Some claim that jet-lag is more mind over matter than anything and that adjusting the time on your phone or watch before your flight can help you mentally prepare for the time change. This way, even when doing small things like checking to see how much longer of your flight is left, you’ll already be thinking in terms of your new time-zone.

man with a watch

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