Jet lag, the unwanted travelling partner that slows us down. Unfortunately, it’s a reality as our bodies try to adjust to new time zones.
Travel is a major part of my life. I spend approximately half the month out of the country and there are times I struggle to know what time of the day it is. Avoiding (if you can), or minimising jet lag is essential. Here are my top three tips:
1. Eat when you should eat
This is a big one for me. It’s very easy with all of the waiting, delays and plane food, to over eat or just eat when it’s available, not because you need it. Before I travel, I map out when I will eat during my travel schedule and then stick to it. In my plan I look at the new time zone and adjust my meals accordingly so my body clock starts to adjust. This ensures you don’t over eat during a large period of inactivity.
As a busy traveller, I also avoid the temptation of inflight drinking. It’s easy to fall into the trap of a couple of red wines to help you get to sleep, however it is important to stay hydrated. During flights I stick to water and avoid the coffee….who needs a bad in flight coffee anyway!
2. Time your rest
This is key to your body adjusting its circadian rhythms. Importantly, timing your rest doesn’t start when you get on the plane but in the lead up to travel. I have found that being well rested a few days out from travel ensures I am getting on the plane in the best shape.
When it comes to resting on flights, for many of us sleeping is a struggle. With that said, I do plan out my rest periods during the flights to ensure the down time aligns with when I should be sleeping in the new time zone. During this time, I put my eye patch on, noise cancelling ear phones on, and get as much down time as possible.
Then the absolute must do to get your body adjusted is stay awake when you land. Many destinations you land in the morning and it easy to fall into the trap of just having a power nap. Stay active on day one and look to last the distance of the day. For me, this almost guarantees my first night is a good night and starts the body off well in the new time zone.
This is an absolute must for me – staying active before, during and after travel. I always plan a long-easy set the day of travel just to ensure the body is not overly stressed but is prepared for a long stint of inactivity.
During my travel on long haul where there is a stopover, I always try to walk the airport and get my step count up. This helps to get the blood flowing through the legs and just breaks up the inactivity of the flying. It also helps to avoid the eating due to boredom.
Lastly, my go to exercise in a new city is getting out for a run and “getting lost in a new city”. This is not about personal bests but about just getting out and rolling the legs over. It really helps me get my bearings in a new city on day one.