Holiday season is well and truly here. The six-week break from schools usually signifies the start of summer holidays for most of us, and for a lucky few, that means long-haul destination breaks!
Jet lag is when your body clock is out of sync through flying across different time zones. This messes up your normal sleep pattern, leaving you lethargic, irritable and headachy – typical symptoms of jet lag. This is bad enough for adults, but imagine a cranky, jet-lagged child!
Experts say most adults need at least seven or eight hours sleep every night, and considerably more for children. Dr Gary Bolger, AXA PPP’s chief medical officer, said: “Sleep is essential to good mental wellbeing. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can feel moody and irritable.”
Anyone can get jet lag, even frequent flyers, but the good news is that there are practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of it occurring and how to get over it if you do. Read on for Dr Bolger’s advice.
Tips to reduce the risk of getting jet lag
- Get some rest before your trip
- Avoid sleeping throughout the journey. It may make time go faster, but your body clock won’t thank you
- Avoid getting stressed before your holiday, as stress can affect sleep
- Avoid taking sleeping tablets for a long-haul flight as they can reduce your level of movement and may increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
How to get over jet lag
- Avoid eating too much or drinking alcohol, as they can cause drowsiness and alcohol causes dehydration
- Cut down on caffeine consumption; drink other fluids and water to keep hydrated
- Remain active, especially on long flights; stretch your legs and arms and move around whenever possible
- Alter your watch at the start of the flight, so you can begin adjusting to the new time zone
- Get some sleep if it’s already night at your destination and use an eye mask and earplugs to block out light and noise; otherwise, try and stay awake so you can sleep at the proper time when you arrive.
Once you get to your destination, try to adjust to the local routine as soon as possible (e.g. if it’s breakfast time, eat breakfast). Spend time outside during the day – the natural light helps your body clock adjust.
Finally, if you’re travelling for four days or less, aim to stay on ‘home time’ wherever possible, eating and sleeping at the same time as you would at home.