Techniques for reducing jet-lag
Jet-lag is caused by a whole range of factors involved in
longhaul air travel, and there are a number of practical ways in which you can
reduce its effects. These include some simple steps to make your
flight more pleasurable and your recovery faster.
This is a key aspect of combating jet-lag.
Before departing, make sure you have all your affairs, business and
personal, in order - and don't leave it all till the last
moment. Ensure you are not stressed-out with excitement or worry, or tired
or hung-over from a function the night before. A trip is so much more
enjoyable if you feel "everything is under control". Get a good
night's sleep just prior to departure, and get plenty of
exercise in the days before. Try to avoid sickness such as
flu or colds. If you have a cold, flying will probably make it worse
- ideally you should delay the trip.
Night or day flight?
This is largely a matter of personal preference, but most travellers think
daytime flights cause less jet-lag because you get a night's sleep
on the ground at either end. You may "lose" a day by spending
it on a plane, but weigh this against the loss of quality time at your destination
if you feel fatigued for the first day or two due to sleep-loss.
East or west?
Whether it is better to fly eastwards or westwards is the subject of debate
among frequent travellers, but there is some
evidence that flying westwards causes less jet-lag. This is probably because
the crossing of time zones occurs more gradually and is easier to adjust to.
The dry air in aircraft causes dehydration. Drinking plenty of
non-alcoholic fluids counters this. Water is better than coffee, tea
and fruit juices. Alcohol not only is useless in combating dehydration,
but has a markedly greater intoxicating effect when drunk in the rarefied
atmosphere of an airliner than at ground level.
Blindfolds, ear plugs, neckrests and blow-up pillows are all useful
in helping you get quality sleep while flying. Kick your shoes off to ease
pressure on the feet (some airlines provide soft sock-like slippers, and many
experienced travellers carry their own). But we don't recommend sleeping tablets
Noise reducing headphones
Some long-haul air passengers find they sleep better in-flight with these
headphones which reduce the effect of engine noise, not just by shutting it
out but by emitting a signal that cancels it out. They work best once the
aircraft is at cruising altitude and the engine noise is constant. Some airlines
provide them in business and first class, and they're available for purchase
at prices ranging from US$50 to $300.
Get as much exercise as you can. Walking up and down the aisle, standing
for spells, and doing small twisting and stretching exercises in your seat
all help to reduce discomfort, especially swelling of legs and feet. Get off
the plane if possible at stopovers, take a walk and if possible do some
exercise (this also helps to reduce the risk of blood clots).
During extended stopovers on a long-haul flight, showers are
sometimes available. A shower not only freshens you up but gets the
muscles and circulation going again and makes you feel much better for
the rest of the flight. Trans-Pacific pilots have told us taking a shower
in Hawaii helps them recover more quickly from the general effects of
jet-lag after the flight.
The after-effects of a flight can be made worse for some by motion sickness,
especially if the aircraft encounters turbulence, which can cause nausea and
sleep loss. The non-prescription remedy Trip Ease can alleviate this problem,
and unlike some motion sickness products it will not cause drowsiness.
This is a safe and effective remedy for countering jet-lag, in the
form of easy-to-take tablets. Its effectiveness has been proved in a
scientific trial of round-the-world passengers and confirmed by long-haul
flight attendants in a test conducted in cooperation with their union.
Being a homeopathic preparation and using extremely low dosages, No-Jet-Lag
has no side effects and is compatible with other medications.
It has no connection with the controversial hormone melatonin. No-Jet-Lag
is available worldwide by mail order, and is sold at outlets such as
international airports, pharmacies and travel stores in Europe, North
America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. For more information and citation
click here for scientific trial of No-Jet-Lag.
Click here to order No-Jet-Lag online from Magellan's
This is a controversial and complex treatment for jet-lag. It involves
altering the production of the hormone that controls the body's inbuilt
clock. Problem is, you've got to get the dosage and timing absolutely
right, and research shows that if used incorrectly melatonin will make
For research indicating melatonin is not the perfect answer for jet-lag
For a full description of the effects of melatonin
click here for Melatonin information from the Mayo Clinic
click here for a recent study on potential problems using Melatonin.
Anti jet-lag diet
Another method on offer is the anti jet-lag diet. Like melatonin this is only
for people with lots of time on their hands who can devote several days before
and after a trip to looking after themselves. It is complicated and there is
little evidence that it works, although it has some passionate devotees.
For more information on this,
click here for
jet-lag diet information.
Sleeping pills - don't
Some people use these to try to alleviate jet-lag. Firstly, they won't
work, and secondly they are a dangerous approach. A report in the Lancet in
1988 said it was estimated that over three years, 18% of the 61 sudden
deaths among long distance passengers reported at Heathrow airport were caused
by blood clots, and more recently this has become a highly recognised medical
concern for those on long flights. Sleeping pills induce a
comatose state with little or no natural body movement. The blood gravitates
down into the leg veins and unless stimulated to keep circulating by
occasional leg movement it can clot. Another problem with some sleeping pills
is that they are variants on anti-histamines and tend to dehydrate the body.