Do you struggle with jet lag? The following methods will help you get over jet lag faster on get on the local time.
The old-fashioned way
It's not all about fancy treatments and drugs. According to Dr Jon Craig, medical director at International SOS Clinic, what you do during the flight and as soon as you land can be crucial in beating the tiredness.
‘With jet lag, it depends which way you are travelling, west to east – for example, London to Beijing – is harder to cope with because you are “losing time” (Beijing is eight hours ahead of GMT).
‘The first thing is to take care of yourself on the flight; don’t drink too much alcohol on board, keep yourself well hydrated and make sure you are well-rested before you start your journey. Drinking heavily may make you feel drowsy on the flight, but alcohol actually disrupts your sleep patterns. If you want to make sure you sleep on a long haul flight so you arrive rested and in the time zone, you’re better off taking a sleeping tablet – but make sure to check with your doctor beforehand if you are taking prescription medication.
‘When you arrive you should try to get your sleep cycle coordinated with the local time as soon as possible. Exposure to sunlight can help reset your circadian clock, so if you arrive at 3pm, for example, try to push through the tiredness, stay awake as late as you can, and go to bed at night time.
‘However, if your flight gets in really early, say 6am, and you are exhausted, grab a power nap – no more than a couple of hours – and then try to stay awake until night time to get on to a normal sleep cycle as fast as you can.
‘Some people even go so far as to get into the sleep cycle of their destination a couple of days before their flight. There’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that this works but some claim it works for them.’
Jet lag calculator
Doing mental arithmetic is undesirable at the best of times, especially if you’ve just landed in a foreign country and you’re so tired you can’t feel your face. Thankfully, British Airways – with the help of one of the UK’s leading sleep experts, Dr. Chris Idzikowski – has come to the rescue with its handy Jet Lag Calculator. Just enter a few details – your normal wake-up time, the time at your point of origin and destination – and it will tell you what times to seek and avoid light. According to the calculator, ‘light is one of the primary cues the body clock uses to maintain its link to the outside world.’
Try the Jet lag Calculator for yourself at www.britishairways.com.
Technology to the rescue
If you fancy looking like an outcast extra from an X-Men movie, albeit one that never suffers from jet lag, look no further than the Re-Timer; a pair of high-tech anti-insomnia glasses. The new technology, developed at Flinders University in Australia, promises to rid the worst sufferers of any form of jet lag.
The shades direct a soft, green glow towards your eyes that adjusts sleep patterns by deceiving the eye’s photoreceptors. They should be worn for 50 minutes after waking to advance the body clock (helping you fall asleep and wake up earlier) or 50 minutes before going to bed to delay your body clock (falling asleep and waking up later).Its inventor, Professor Leon Lack, claims that his new invention has the potential to not only aid travellers in their fight against jet lag, but also help shift workers regulate their sleep and even help wake up drowsy teenagers in the morning.
The Re-Timer costs 2,880RMB and is available from www.re-timer.com.
Melatonin is increasingly popular in the fight against jet lag, mostly due to its origins – melatonin is an organic compound found naturally in some plants and vegetables, and categorised as a supplement rather than a drug. There is, however, plenty of evidence to suggest that it is actually better than prescription sleeping tablets at easing the time zone transition. The tablets replicate the melatonin that is naturally released by the pineal gland in your brain, making you feel sleepy at night. Take it around 20 minutes before you go to bed, and it will help to recalibrate your sleep-wake cycle. If you find yourself staring at the bedroom ceiling for way too long, and not in a good way, melatonin is your new best friend. You can purchase melatonin at drug stores around Beijing. A 60-capsule bottle at International SOS’s pharmacy costs 160RMB. See listings for address.
Massage away the stresses of your trip
While a massage may not do much for your circadian rhythm, nothing helps melt away the memory of an hellishly long flight better than a good massage. The Happy Landing massage at Sanlitun’s Dragonfly spa is designed for just that. – the heavenly two-hour experience helps you ease into your new destination. Despite the somewhat lascivious connotations of the name, the treatment is in fact designed to reduce swelling: an hour-long oriental foot massage and moisturising treatment – to relieve aching, swollen feet – is followed by an Indian head massage and one-hour traditional Chinese body massage: a holistic therapy that makes your torrid journey a distant memory. Make the most of Dragonfly’s late hours (open until midnight, daily) and schedule a night-time appointment – we guarantee you’ll leave feeling relaxed and ready for your bed.
Dragonfly’s Happy Landing massage costs 458RMB. See listings for address.