7 surprising ways to help keep jet lag at bay

How to stay alert and awake, even after hours of traveling.

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Nearly all of us have experienced the horrors of jet lag. For some, it’s a day or two of the body playing catch up on sleep. While for others it lasts longer and leaves them feeling like a walking zombie. Jet lag occurs when your circadian clock, a part of the brain that regulates sleep patterns, struggles to adapt to a change in time zones. Coupled with a dehydrating flight and feelings of restlessness and stress, jet lag can feel like the worst hangover you’ve ever had.

To make the most of your holiday arrival or get straight back into your routine on the return home, these are some of the most effective ways to deal with jet lag.

How to beat jet lag

1. Change your food clock

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Yes, that’s right, adjust your food clock rather than your sleep clock in the lead up to a long haul flight. Research has shown potential in changing your dietary routine to help with jet lag. This method is known as the Argonne anti-jet-lag-diet. It involves fasting and feasting for four days prior to your arrival. On feast days, eat high protein meals for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner have something high in carbs. On fast days stick only to lighter foods, which helps to deplete the bodies store of carbohydrates and better adjust its body clock.

2. Hydrate

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Stay hydrated during the flight and drink plenty of water once you land and step off the plane. Headaches, muscle pain, and nausea can all be symptoms of jet lag, but they can also come from dehydration. Drinking enough fluids can negate these effects. Experts also suggest staying away from caffeine if it’s past 3pm, as this will play havoc with your sleep patterns.

3. The art of napping

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A perfectly timed nap can do wonders as your body adjusts to the new time zone. Sleeping at the right time can mean you won’t be up in the early morning wanting dinner. And if you’re tired, catching up on some sleep can give your body enough energy to adapt. The trick is to keep it short – napping for too long won’t have the same effect. And, if you’re really struggling to get some zzz’s, melatonin is known to help insomnia and reset your internal body clock.

4. Time your flights – and be realistic

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As tempting as it can be to book the red-eye flight and arrive at your holiday destination at the start of the day, you won’t get the same enjoyment if you aren’t awake enough to make the most of it. Know your body and what works for you. If you’ve successfully mastered the red-eye, great. If not, be realistic about your flight times.

5. Prepare your body

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Prevention is always best, and making sure your body is well prepared for a long flight can be crucial. Taking vitamins and supplements can be an excellent way to make sure your body is topped up and in the best shape for a long and draining journey. Plenty of rest leading up to the flight can also work wonders.

6. Exercise when you can

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It might sound difficult to exercise when you’re 3000 feet in the air on an often cramped plane, but even a small amount of exercise during the flight can make a difference. Going for a walk up and down the aisle, standing for short amounts of time and stretching during the flight are beneficial in keeping jet lag at bay. Movements like these can help reduce the swelling in your ankles and legs, meaning you’ll be much more comfortable when you step off the plane to enjoy your holiday. Exercising once you’ve arrived at your destination is also known to help keep jet lag symptoms at bay.

7. Soak up the sun

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Experts claim that one of the most effective ways to reduce the effects of jet lag is to regulate your body’s exposure to light. If flying east, it’s better to soak up the sun during the morning. Flying west, however, means you should get as much of that afternoon sun as possible. This will help your body better adjust its circadian clock.