Tips to help prevent jet lag

Posted on 18 April 2024 By Nomvelo Masango

Flying across different time zones can easily result in your body’s rhythm falling out of sync. You may find yourself dosing off at lunchtime or even struggling with sleep for the first couple of nights at your new destination.

Picture: Sourced / iStock

Jet lag can quickly spoil the first few days of your holiday. However, with the right steps taken, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Here are a few tips to help prevent and minimize jet lag:

First of all, understand it

It is important to understand jet lag for what it is. When experiencing jet lag, your body’s internal clock is disrupted as a result of travelling across different time zones. This may result in symptoms such as daytime drowsiness, reduced performance and sleep disturbances. Your travel direction, travel time and normal sleep schedule all affect the severity of your jet lag. In understanding jet lag, you are able to take the necessary precautionary measures.

Time zone pre-adjustment

It is advisable to start your time zone adjustment a few days before your trip begins. For example, depending on your destination, this may mean sleeping an hour earlier than normal and staying in bed an hour later in the morning.  Adjusting your bedtime will help you to slightly ‘pre-adjust’ to your new time zone.

Picture: Unsplash / Joyce Romero

Exercise before your flight

The busyness that comes with preparing for a trip can very easily lead to you skipping your regular workout. However, working up a sweat before a long journey will serve to your benefit. Your sleep quality will be improved and this is important when you’re nodding off in a new environment.

Stretch regularly

During your flight, it is advisable to try and stretch your body every few hours. Simple postures such as leaning forward or doing back and neck stretches will be sufficient to mobilize your lower spine and get your blood flowing.

Stay hydrated

Long distance travel can cause dehydration. In an effort to avoid bathroom breaks, you may find yourself choosing to limit your water intake. This is a choice you need to reconsider as proper hydration may help manage jet lag symptoms and travel fatigue.

Watch what you eat

When you’re not moving around, digestion can become sluggish. Watching what you eat on the plane can help you avoid the dreaded ‘jet bloat’. Stick to foods that are warm and moist. Avoid coffee, alcohol, breads, cold desserts and soft drinks.

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