Avoid jet lag, nat­u­rally

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

There are ways to keep your body clock tick­ing with­out tak­ing med­i­ca­tion dur­ing long-haul flights, writes

HILE you’re read­ing this, half a mil­lion peo­ple are up in the air, lit­er­ally.

Next year, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion, 3.6 bil­lion pas­sen­gers will board a flight some­where in the world, 800 mil­lion more than in 2011.

Even tak­ing into ac­count short flights, that’s a lot of jet lag. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Nor do you need to take sleep­ing tablets or pre­scrip­tion-only mela­tonin (best used when a reg­i­men is cal­cu­lated for your own mela­tonin lev­els).

There are more nat­u­ral ways to min­imise the ef­fect of cross­ing mul­ti­ple time zones on the cir­ca­dian rhythm, our “body clock” that tells us when to go to sleep, when to be wide awake and when to eat.


Be­fore you even get near an air­port, choose your flights wisely. Try to fly di­rect (fewer stopovers means less time in the air) and try to ar­rive in the late af­ter­noon or evening, so that the tired feel­ing from fly­ing co­in­cides with a “nor­mal” bed­time at your des­ti­na­tion.

Fly­ing west (Bris­bane to Lon­don, for in­stance) is gen­er­ally eas­ier on the body clock than fly­ing east (Bris­bane to Los An­ge­les) be­cause you’re pro­long­ing the length of a nat­u­ral day.

When you’re fly­ing west, try to go to bed as late as pos­si­ble for two or three nights be­fore you fly.

Pre­par­ing to travel east is trick­ier, says Dr Siob­han Banks of the Syd­ney-based Sleep Health Foun­da­tion, be­cause ad­just­ing to jet lag re­quires ap­ply­ing light in sci­en­tific ways so you don’t make it worse.

“The trick then, is to not have too much bright light in the af­ter­noon and evening (on ar­rival), so wear­ing sun­glasses un­til the af­ter­noon can help.”


If it’s day­time at your des­ti­na­tion dur­ing the flight, try to re­lax in­stead of sleep­ing. And heed the ad­vice of healthy fly­ers ev­ery­where: stay­ing hy­drated, eat­ing in mod­er­a­tion and lim­it­ing your al­co­hol and caf­feine in­take can re­ally re­duce the ef­fects of jet lag, Banks says.

For years, I’ve been us­ing a home­o­pathic jet lag rem­edy called Jet Ease ( jetease.com.au) de­vel­oped in New Zealand. These chew­able tablets, which are taken ev­ery two hours dur­ing the flight, con­tain herbal ex­tracts such as ar­nica mon­tana and wild camomile to help im­prove cir­cu­la­tion, re­duce de­hy­dra­tion and re­lax, so that you ar­rive more rested, which is the first step to­wards avoid­ing jet lag.


It’s all about light when you reach your des­ti­na­tion, Banks says. In other words, get­ting the right amount at the right time, to re­set your cir­ca­dian rhythm so you’re in synch with the time zone at your des­ti­na­tion.

You can en­list the help of de­vices such as Re­timer glasses (re-timer.com). These Google Glass-like frames worn be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter a flight, emit UV-free green light at spe­cific times based on where and when you’re fly­ing. There’s also an app for that – En­train (en­train.math.lsa .umich.edu).

Or keep it sim­ple by tak­ing a walk or hav­ing a swim when you ar­rive.

“If it makes you feel good to get out in a nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and con­nect with your new sur­round­ings by, say, go­ing to the beach, do it,” Banks says.

“We of­ten try to be very sci­en­tific about it, but if you do things you find en­joy­able that will help you ad­just nat­u­rally. You’re on hol­i­day af­ter all.”

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