Travelling Long Haul - The Survivors Guide

It has been two weeks now and the remnants of jet lag are finally loosening their stranglehold over my sleep routine every night.

When I first landed in the States for our summer holiday,, it seemed I had cracked the code: I was able to pin my eyes open during dinner when I arrived and survived all the way till dessert until crashing at a relatively normal time to go to bed: Fantastic!

Even as the days of the holiday continued, blessed with all my good sleep habits that I have adopted in London and wearing my Homebody sleep set, it seemed all was well….over the next week, I slept really well – quite undisturbed and to be honest I felt quite perky about how well I was coping with a completely different time zone and was not in the slightest bit worried about the flight home and slotting back into London life …how wrong I was!!

In that first week back in the UK, every night I was so exhausted and desperate for sleep mid afternoon, and was delaying and delaying climbing into bed, as I knew it would not help the jet lag, however even doing that, I was still jumping up wide awake at 4am ready to start my day (I even seriously considered heading to the gym at that time …it was awful, like an illness that you just have to weather and get through., which I can confirm has finally happened.( it has taken two weeks!)

Having experienced just how painful jet lag can be,I decided to cram some info on how to beat those jet lag blues so here are my top tips that will really help you deal with long haul flights and get back into sleeping really well thanks to Homebody!

But first, what exactly is jet lag?

It is when our two biological timers: our circadian system and our homeostatic drive (sleep pressure) are out of alignment.

In other words, it is our biological clock telling us what time of day it is and we react to that, not the light outside or our watches.

Our body is so clever: it gets ready to wake up by increasing our body temperature pressure and metabolic rate which are all increased to get ready for a day’s activity and at the end of the day,  when we go to sleep the reverse happens. Our internal body clock works in conjunction with our homeostatic drive or sleep pressure which is the intuitive part of sleep. The longer you have been awake, the longer you will need to sleep as the body MUST recover and as we know all that good healing stuff happens when we get a good night’s sleep!

We normally start to fall asleep when that sleep pressure is high and the circadian system tells us that bedtime is approaching and the body goes into wind down sleep mode, but depending on which way we are flying , this can become misaligned during travelling and that is when sleep problems begin to kick in.

Top 10 Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights 

Most travelers try to make the most of their limited time overseas, yet fail to take into account the leap in time zones they make in a matter of hours. It can take your body’s internal clock several days to catch up to that leap, and in the meantime you’re likely to experience the disruption of your sleeping and waking cycle known as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general malaise and irritability. (I had them all, even more than usual!) Here are our top tips to survive long haul flights:

  1. Adjust your internal clock.

Several days (at least four) before departure, gradually shift your sleeping and eating times to coincide with those at your destination. Once you arrive, adopt the local time for your daily routine.

  1. Opt for overnight flights.

You’ll have dinner at a normal time and be much more likely to sleep than on an afternoon flight. Depending on the length of the flight and the number of time zones you cross, you’ll arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon. This is the best way to replicate your normal schedule, and it’ll be easier for you to reset your clock.

  1. Curtail coffee.

For 12 hours before, as well as during, your flight, avoid overeating and caffeine. Although caffeine can help keep you awake longer, it makes you wake up more often once you do fall asleep and so reduces total sleep time.

  1. Stay hydrated.

Drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air—even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you wear contact lenses, clean them thoroughly before your flight, use eye drops in the air, and consider removing your lenses if you nap. In your carry-on pack a bottle of moisturizing lotion, lip balm, and a hydrating spray with essential oils (not just water) to spritz your face with occasionally. Just be sure all toiletries are TSA compliant.

  1. Avoid or limit alcohol inflight.

Cabin air dehydrates passengers, and altitude changes can quicken the effects of alcohol (the rule of thumb is one drink in the air is the same as two or three on the ground). A cocktail may relax you, but it’s also apt to dry you out, and even worsen symptoms of jet lag.

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