A sleep expert gives us 8 ways to beat jetlag

Jetlag. Bleagh. We’ve all been there – whether it was that time when you felt it entirely plausible to go straight into work after a stopover flight (it wasn’t), or when your company booked you on a red-eye before a meeting across the Atlantic (meanies). Having to be sparky and, well, awake at 4am-body-clock-time is pure torture.

Jetlag is highly un-conducive to modern living – and made all the worse by new research which shows that 25 per cent of longhaul flights are delayed. Fantastic.

So how do we avoid the worst of it? Day hotel centre Dayuse hooked us up with Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, Medical Director of The London Sleep Centre, to tell us how best to adjust to a new timezone. Talk of melatonin and east/west differences aside, here are his top tips:

Flight passengers

  1. Before you travel, make sure you are fully rested, and begin to adjust your sleep patters to your new time zone, perhaps by an hour or two. Don’t try to ‘top up’ on sleep as this might worsen your jetlag.
  2. At the start of your flight, adjust your watch to your new time.
  3. Try to eat at meal times of your destination, and drink plenty of water during the flight. Dehydration can intensify the effects of jet lag, especially after sitting in a dry airplane cabin for many hours. Avoid caffeinated drinks – you’re battling with enough elements keeping you awake!
  4. Pack and use your jetlag salvation kit, which will include and eye mask and ear plugs – when you try to sleep, recreate darkened conditions as much as possible.
  5. Once you’ve arrived, try to get as much sleep in every 24 hours as you normally would. A minimum block of four hours’ sleep during the local night is thought to be necessary to help you adapt to a new time zone. If possible, make up the total sleep time by taking power naps during the day.
  6. When awake, try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – this will give your body indicators of its new day and night.
  7. If you’re not tired when the clock in your new location says it’s time for sleep, try eating food-inducing sleep like kiwis, oatcakes, almonds, cherries and salmon.
  8. An alternative way to fall asleep is by using the sound of a waterfall – make sure you have that on your iPod ahead of time.

Think you’ll have it under control on your next trip? We fully support buying a return to Jamaica to find out.

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