Ask any frequent traveller what annoys them most about travelling, and it’s likely that they’ll mention jet lag. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, nobody likes the difficulty of adjusting to a new local time or having their overseas trip spoilt by exhaustion. While there aren’t any definite methods to exorcising this travelling demon, there are certainly ways to beat jet lag for good.

How Jet Lag Occurs

Our bodies are run by a biological process called circadian rhythm – a 24-hour cycle that defines the physical, mental, and behavioural changes that we experience daily. Unfortunately, this process is disrupted when we’re traversing through different time zones at turbo speeds, resulting in an off-balanced body clock and sketchy sleeping patterns.

Being chronic travellers ourselves – we are nomads, after all – here are some life hacks to help you combat the ugly side of travelling.

Adjust Sleeping Patterns

Beat jet lag with proper sleeping times

A common misconception amongst globe-trotters is that long-haul flights are the main cause of jet lag. The severity of fatigue, however, is caused by the direction of your journey, and not the amount of time spent on a plane. Following the Greenwich Meridian, the clock will change an hour for every 15 degrees travelled east or west. Therefore, your travel route is key to establishing how badly affected you’ll be.

Just remember: West is good, East not so. Westward sojourns will see your day naturally extending – a definite plus when it comes to adjusting to a new time zone. Travelling to the east will be shorten the day, making it more difficult to sleep when you actually have to go to bed. 

So if you’re travelling from Singapore to Los Angeles (east to west), start going to bed at later times a few days before your trip. Likewise, if you’re traveling from Los Angeles to Singapore, it’d be smart to sleep at earlier times before you fly. However, if you’re on a long flight for a short business trip, it’s advisable to stick to your standard routine and adjust accordingly when you get back home.

Water Is Your Best Friend On Board

Drink lots of water to prevent jet lag

Any form of caffeine should be avoided before or during your flight – yes, even the cuppa that gets your brain going in the morning. On top of disrupting your sleep schedule caffeine has a mild-diuretic (increased urination) side effect, which can prove to be particularly irritating, especially you’re in the window seat, by choice or otherwise.

Another common excuse used by people to get those eyelids shut is drinking alcohol. We understand a beer or two might make it easier to fall asleep, but it can lead to unsatisfactory snoozing and grogginess upon awakening. The best thing to do is to always remain hydrated by drinking a sufficient amount of water. In worse-case scenarios, you might even face jet lag symptoms such as diarrhoea.

On Board Activities

Always stretch on a plane to prevent jet lag

An overlooked aspect of overcoming jet lag is proper planning of your activities on-board. As your body is affected mentally after a draining flight, it’s important to calibrate your mind appropriately in order to adjust upon touch down. An easy way to regulate your circadian rhythm would be to eat according to the local time of your destination. This allows you to get in the flow of the day with ease.

If you’re on a lengthy journey, take walks around the cabin and stretch habitually. Walking helps you to loosen your joints and muscles after sitting for a long period of time, relieving any aches or stiffness in the process. Stretching will also increase circulation of the blood to various parts of the body, which in turn will improve energy levels (a great way of keeping fresh).

Planning to watch the latest movies on-board before taking a nap? Not a great idea; all electronic devices including your tablets and laptops emit a blue-spectrum light that rouses the circadian clock, making it extremely difficult to sleep after a prolonged period of exposure.

Disclaimer: Do note that the following methods are just basic tips, and City Nomads does not recommend taking supplements or medication unless authorised by a doctor.