Freshen up: 9 simple ways to beat jet lag

Try these smart hacks to combat jet lag – and you can start your holiday refreshed and ready to go.

A picture of Two luggage with a lady looking outside of a hotel window.
  • Rachel Gray
  • October 2018

It’s the last thing you want to get you down when go on a holiday, especially when heading to a destination further afield. But jet lag doesn’t have to be inevitable. Here are some smart ways to start prepping for your trip before the flight even takes off.

1. Adjust your sleeping schedule

Sleep scientist Dr Carmel Harrington, author of The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep (Macmillan Australia, AUD $29.99), suggests slowly changing the time you go to bed in the days leading up to your flight. “So instead of going to sleep at 10pm, go to bed at 9.30pm,” she says. “And try to get up a bit earlier each day.”

2. Get your body moving

On the morning of the flight, turn up the tunes and aim for at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity. It will help you sleep better on board.

3. Change the time

As soon as you arrive at the airport, set your watch to your destination’s time zone. But make sure you keep track of local time – you don’t want to miss your flight. “It can be a bit difficult,” Dr Harrington says. “So sometimes people wear two watches.”

A gent and a lady eating inside an Airplane.
Stick to light meals to give your digestion a rest.

Eat and drink wisely once you’re on board

4. Create a sleep sanctuary

“Our bodies often do not like to go into a deep sleep when it’s in an unusual environment,” Dr Harrington explains. So pack an eye mask, earplugs and lightweight blanket to help minimise disruptions and increase comfort.

5. Eat well

“It’s best to restrict your intake of food and avoid red meat, high-sugar and high-fat food that will cause fragmented sleep,” Dr Harrington says. Try to opt for a lighter meal of fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts. This will give your digestion a rest and allow the body an uninterrupted kip.

6. Limit alcoholic drinks.

“If you have to have alcohol, just have one glass and then switch to water,” Dr Harrington suggests. “That will minimise your risk of jet lag.”

A lady jogging on a sunny park.
A brisk walk or jog in the sun will help you adjust to local time.

How to adjust when you reach your destination

7. Get out in the sun

If it’s still daylight, hit the pavement for a brisk walk to help the body’s circadian rhythm adjust. “Our exposure to light is the thing that resets our body clock,” Dr Harrington says. “It will wake you up and make you feel good.”

8. Head to bed if it’s dark

If you arrive at night, limit your exposure to light and get to bed as quickly as possible. Avoid sleeping-in the next morning. Getting up when the sun rises helps reset your body clock.

9. Take a quick nap

If you find yourself exhausted by the afternoon, then a 20-minute power nap (but no longer) will put you back on your feet.