How to Minimise Jet Lag
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
We’ve travelled to all sorts of places with the boys, some short-haul and others a bit farther away. We once booked a cheap flight to Cape Town, travelling 18 hours via Doha which was a real struggle with two little kids, my youngest was only 3 at the time and needed lots of comfort along the way. When we finally arrived, we were exhausted and jet lagged from the flight, it took a few days just to get over it.
Over time we’ve learned to deal better with it, having spoken to other parents in our group, we got some really good tips on how to deal with it, which I’ll share with you later.
"It’s the feeling of enchantment and utter delight, like a blissful assault on the senses"
I read up about something psychologists call circadian rhythms, it’s the 24 hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise and eat, among other things, in essence, it’s your internal body clock. So when you feel jet lag as most of us have felt especially when travelling across time zones, it’s essentially the feeling of disrupting your internal body clock. To help minimise this feeling, in theory, the understanding is that you can reset your circadian rhythm by grounding yourself to the magnetic field in your new time zone.
What does that actually mean exactly? When you arrive at your new destination, try taking off your shoes and ground yourself by walking barefoot. Does it work? I really couldn’t say, but there’s been so many times I’ve done this automatically on arrival in a new destination, especially when visiting the beach for the first time - the moment you first bury your feet in the sand and take in the amazing views around you and you feel truly connected to your surroundings, that's when I feel grounded. For me, it’s the feeling of enchantment and utter delight, like a blissful assault on the senses, the sound of the waves, birds flying about, the smell of sun lotion in the air coupled with the postcard views and people having fun.
It may just be that holiday feeling, but it’s probably as close as you can get to fall in love for the first time. It’s that intriguing experience of trying something new, it never goes away and us humans, we search for it. Always wanting new experiences, visiting new places to see and try new things for the first time. Living in a place like London, you often feel like you need to set off on a journey of discovery to sample new things, just to help get away from the mundane for a short while.
"There's no treatment for jet lag and taking medication is not usually required."
I digress, lockdown life has been a real struggle! While it’s not proven that “grounding yourself” actually works, you could try the following things to help reduce that jet lag feeling.
Slowly transition before the trip. Days before you leave, move your meal times and bedtime incrementally closer to the schedule of your destination. Even a small change may help to make a difference.
Stay hydrated. While many people like taking a sip of the happy juice and drinking caffeinated drinks during their flight. It’s best to drink plenty of water instead, try and stay away from caffeine or alcohol. These drinks make you dehydrated, which worsens the symptoms of jet lag and they can also disturb your sleep and you’ll need the energy to keep the kids entertained.
Change your bedtime as soon as you arrive. It’s best to wait until it is bedtime in the new time zone before you turn in. The first night or two, your child may wake up in the middle of the night starving and that’s probably because it’s lunch or dinner time back home and it’s totally normal, after the first couple of nights settling in, try and give your child a quick snack, and encourage them to go back to sleep.
Make use of the daylight. The light and sunshine in your new destination will naturally reset your internal clock, so try and be out when you arrive, even if it's night time from where you’ve arrived.
Just remember, there's no treatment for jet lag and taking medication is not usually required. You will start to feel better after a few days as your body clock adjusts to the new time zone. Happy Travel!
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Do you have any jetlag experiences or perhaps some tips you'd like to share?