Avoiding jetlag

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Steven’s wife Peta suffers from jetlag and wants some advice on how to avoid the common effects of flying overseas when they are on their second honeymoon.

Q. Steven

My wife Peta and I are heading overseas in March on a second honeymoon. Peta has suffered from jetlag quite severely in the past, and we really hope that you can offer some advice on how she can avoid the side effects of our long flight. We don’t want to miss a minute of our holiday and any tips which you could give us would be much appreciated.

A. I sympathise with your wife Steven, it can often seem that you need a day to recover for every time zone you cross. Hopefully Peta will find some of the tips below helpful for coping with the long flights and be raring to go once she arrives.

Reduce your flight transfers
Plan your journey so that you are not transferring planes along the way. It may seem like a good idea, and a cheaper option, to change flights as you can take a break during a long journey, but direct flights are better in the long run if you want to avoid jet lag. 

Try to adapt in advance
Before you travel you should try to partially adapt to the destination time zone. For instance, you could start your daily routine one hour before or after you normally do the week before flying. 

Exercise the day before
It can become extremely uncomfortable sitting in a cramped seat for an extended period. Go to the gym the day before you board your flight. Give your legs a good workout, release the chemicals which reduce stress and tire yourself out to help you to be able to sleep on the flight. 

Request a window seat
If possible reserve yourself a window seat as this is the only place where you can rest your head and pillow on a hard surface. It’s impossible on the aisle or in the centre seats.

Keep hydrated
Spending a number of hours breathing refurbished air can be dehydrating, so avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water before and during your flight. Indulging in free wine, beer, coffee and salted peanuts can leave you feeling weary. Keep your skin moisturised by splashing your face and hands every time you go to the bathroom.

Get some sleep
Try to get some sleep during longer flights. Pack an eye mask and ear plugs in your carry-on luggage. Wearing comfortable shoes and loose clothing on your journey will help with circulation and enable you to sleep more comfortably.

As soon as you arrive at your destination, try to adapt to the local schedule by eating the appropriate meals at the right time. Also get out into the sunlight and avoid taking naps during the day.

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Written by Andrea


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    Definitely get out to the sun as soon as you arrive ,vitamin D , sun , helps to adjust your body clock , and you have a great day out , no wasted time , then evening meal normal time and good sleep , this worked for me , Brisbane – Frankfurt , arrived 5:30 am, brekky at hotel , day out , and never missed a beat the rest of the holiday ,,,have a great time

  2. 0

    For long flights to we prefer to use a “Stopover” where possible. Flying Singapore airlines to Europe for instance there can be a Stopover offered in Singapore. You only pay for the low cost hotel accommodation around perhaps $50 for the room for the night, 4 star and this includes airport/hotel transfers and other freebies. Certainly makes for a great break. Ask the airline being used if they offer a stopover, they are great. If wanting quality sleep while travelling we use the Lifewave Silent Night Non Transdermal patches – registered as a class 1 medical device in Europe. These have NO drugs, nothing into the body and great for waking up refreshed. These patches also stop/reduce snoring, reduce stress and are well researched. Being in our 70s, regularly travelling overseas and about to have our 3rd out of 4 overseas trips for the year this is what we find makes for an enjoyable stress free holiday.

  3. 0

    I have done a very large number of long haul flights, and thought I had a great advantage over many because I have no problem sleeping on these flights.
    But I landed in serious trouble on a flight from Melbourne to Zurich when both my wife and I were put into seats where neither of us had an aisle. With the person next to me using all of his seat and a third of mine, I slept leaning to my left.
    Next day I suffered severe pains in my left leg which were replaced next day by problems with my lungs. Later my doctor was to tell me that I almost certainly had experienced a DVT which could easily have killed me.
    The best idea we have found is to arrange a stopover in Singapore for a couple of days each way. Use Singapore Airline, the best in my experience after using most of them, and get heavily discounted fares on the bus that tours the city. And no, I have no association with Singapore Airlines other than being a happy customer.
    The most important precaution before leaving is to look up Seat Guru on the internet so that you can be sure that one of your tickets has an aisle.
    I also agree with pixii, I always take long walks around my destination and never have jetlag there, but invariably get a double dose upon returning home.

  4. 0

    Agree Maxchugg, getting home we tend to go straight home to bed , not stay up and out as we do on the holiday , that’s when the jet lag sets in & is double ,! I think we’re so glad to be home , safe & sound

  5. 0

    The best advice I can give, is catch a boat, preferably from Indonesia, plenty of fresh air on the trip over and the Government will give you s sh..load of money when you get here. Pity the Labor party is still not in power, or you would have got a lot more.

  6. 0

    I (and the real experts) agree that lots of sunshine and walking are the key. If in a new city we tend drop our luggage off at our accommodation (they will accept it, even if you can’t check in until the afternoon), then buy a day ticket for one of those red hop-on hop-off double decker buses that most cities have these days, and sit on top (sunshine) and get an overview of the city, and do lots of walks at various stops before catching a later bus, and repeat through the day. The ever-changing sights and the fresh air on the top deck prevent the urge to go to sleep. Resist having even the tiniest nap until bed time at the new destination, no matter how sleep-deprived a long flight has made you. Result – I have never suffered significant jet lag in either direction (west- or eastbound), but perhaps I am just lucky with a brain and sleep hormones that instantly reprogram themselves anyway, though I think not. The water drinking and very limited alcohol consumption are excellent advice as well. I can’t sleep on planes, so a window seat is wasted for me – I prefer an aisle seat so that I can easily take a walk up and down the aisles every hour or so with minimal disturbance to the passengers in adjacent seats; the experts of course recommend this too as one of the activities to decrease the likelihood of DVT.

  7. 0

    Can’t help, only sympathize with. Travelling one time on a nearly four hour late redeye knocked me for a sixer, so can only imagine what a long haul flight might do.

  8. 0

    My wife and I travel to the US every year and we have sort of developed a system.
    Our schedule: the flight takes 13 hours, another 1-2 hours to get out of the terminal, another hour to check into our domestic flight, getting out of the terminal at the other end, then waiting for the shuttle to arrive, and finally a 2 hour trip to get to the destination.
    You could say we are the walking wounded at the other end. Add to that altitude sickness (for the next 3 weeks) and it does get interesting.
    Andrea has hit on some of the things which work. I would say that the single most important thing to do on such a trip is to SLEEP DURING THE FLIGHT. Whilst it is uncomfortable and ‘sleep’ is more like a lot of cat-naps you will be in fair shape at the other end. And whatever you do DO NOT GO TO BED until it is dark and then remember to get up as per normal the next day so that your brain sets a new pattern.
    Whilst different people may have different techniques the above has been worked out over many flights and I stand by it.
    Just another help: when your plane is taking off take note of any rows of empty or near empty seats. When the seat belts sign goes off after take off bolt for these seats….if you are not ready and move immediately somebody will beat you to them….from experience. Believe me when I say that a bank of 3 seats (the arm rests fold down) is a fairly good bed.
    Hope that help. Good luck.

  9. 0

    Disagree. Always ask for an aisle seat, then you can get up and stretch and walk around without being trapped in a window seat

    • 0

      Agree with the aisle seat. Better than having people clamber over you and disturbing you. Plus you can get up and walk, which seems to help me on a long flight.



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