We’ve all been there. Suffering interminable hours in silence as the rest of the world sleeps. Watching a slow dawn break with sleep-deprived eyes is nobody’s idea of a perfect start to a holiday, so follow the tips below and (fingers crossed) you’ll be bright of eye and bushy of tail, ready to get the most out of your next adventure!
Stay awake, stay active...
It can seem a Herculean challenge, but if you arrive during the day, try to stay awake until the locals’ bedtime. And get out of the hotel room – there’s nothing more soporific than lying on the bed watching TV. Wander down that path and before you know it you’ll be locked into a cycle of 4am restlessness and daytime stupefaction. So get out and about – you might resemble a member of the living dead as you wander the streets, but the fresh air can be invigorating, sunshine good for resetting those circadian rhythms, and you’ll be training your body to get local quickly.
...but sleep if you have to
Okay, so in a perfect world we can’t all follow a 24-hour journey by staying awake for half a day. So, if sleep beckons and you’re powerless to resist, be disciplined. Set the alarm to ensure your rest is more nap than comatose slumber – a couple of hours should suffice.
Be good to yourself
Tips for the flight: avoid alcohol and caffeine temptations, keep well hydrated with water and change your watch to the local time of your destination. All simple little things that start to get your head and body used to the changes ahead, and help to minimise the inevitable shock to the system that new time zones bring. And keep a healthy supply of earplugs and eye-masks handy as well.
Some travellers swear by medication – taking a supplement of the hormone melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep cycles, is a particular favourite. However, although medicines may help you sleep better, they don't combat other symptoms of jet lag - daytime sleepiness, for example, or an upset stomach. Herbal remedies are also popular, with lavender a bedside perennial for those with difficulty sleeping, and eucalyptus and rosemary oils both used to help the sleepy stay awake.
You are what you eat
Hardcore jetsetters may reset their diet to reflect their destination’s dining habits, but sometimes wolfing down a bowl of cornflakes as your evening meal can be just that little bit grim. Sticking to vitamin-rich, protein-laden foods is a pretty good bet. And avoid anything too heavy before you fly – the cabin pressure will leave you bloated and uncomfortable. Keep it light, keep it healthy.
So – no ‘magic bullet’, no miracle cure or revolutionary method of counteracting jet-lag. The only real sure-fire means of avoiding it is not travelling. But the simple tips above help – admittedly, no alcohol, coffee or plates of indulgence does sound like we’re suggesting a boot camp regimen rather than holiday fun. But follow the tips and you’ll most likely be the one getting the most out of your holiday.