How to fight jetlag

Sophie Elliott, the founder of recently launched Dirty Green (and previously Sprout Market) will twice a month share her tips for becoming a happier, healthier traveller.

After what felt like an endless plane journey you arrive at your destination only to feel tired, confused, irritated and bloated. And no, this is not a hangover (unless you spent the flight stalking the drinks trolley), this is a case of the dreaded jet lag.

Having journeyed the NYC to LDN route many a time, I have now become accustomed to transitioning from one time zone to another. Fellow travellers out there, listen carefully and follow suit, you’re next trip may even be jet-lag free.

STEP 1: Tupperware time. Airplane food (and airport for that matter) should be avoided like the plague – microwaved and salt-laden, it does nothing for the digestive system. Instead, make homemade snacks and mini meals to take onboard. Safe choices include: raw nuts, bananas, chopped vegetables or quinoa with edamame beans and chicken breast. Not so safe options include: yogurt over 100ml (I have had mine confiscated), boiled eggs (they cause quite a stink) and garlic (I’m thinking of your neighbour).

STEP 2: Rehydrate. Knocking back a gin and tonic or two is tempting but it’s really not a wise move. Do this and you’ll be left not only looking dull but feeling it too. Planes are dehydrating enough so make sure your drink of choice is H2O and H2O only. Trust me, you’ll disembark glowing inside and out.

STEP 3: To sleep or not to sleep? #1. Only sleep if it’s nighttime at your destination. #2. If it’s daytime then keep naps to a maximum of 30 minutes. #3. Avoid watching movies if you want to sleep on board – the blue light interferes with particular hormones that keep you wide-awake. #4. Upon arrival fight sleeping until it’s actually bedtime. #5. Don’t lie in on your first morning, wake up and get as much daylight as possible.

STEP 4: Get in sync. Before disembarking make sure you have set all clocks and watches to the local time of your destination. It sounds simple but even looking at the wrong time can send your mind and body out of whack.

STEP 5: Get moving. Probably the last thing you feel like doing but trust me, this helps. When air-bound have a little stretch or a wander around and once you’ve landed, head outside for some fresh air and a light jog. Doing this will have your circulatory system back on track and you’ll feel re-energised in no time.

STEP 6: Take a warm bath or a cold shower. Having a shower post-flight is always a good idea – not only because you need a wash but also because it’s very refreshing. If you have a whole day ahead of you then put the tap on cold for 10 seconds before getting out of the shower – this kick-starts your body and will leave you raring to go. If however, you’re struggling to sleep, then hop in the bath and have a warm soak.

Final thing to note: for short trips (3 nights or fewer), I’d recommend staying on ‘home time.’

Words by Sophie Elliott

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