With summer holiday season fast approaching, thousands of holidaymakers will be looking forward to jetting off to a different part of the world. But how can you make sure the dreaded jet lag doesn't spoil the start of your trip? Travelling across time zones can cause huge disruption to the whole family's body clock often spoiling the first few days of your trip - as well as affecting your return home.
However, jet lag doesn't only affect our sleep, the World Health Organisation has warned long haul travellers can also suffer indigestion issues, disturbance of bowel function, blood pressure fluctua- tions and general malaise.
To stop jet lag having a significant impact on what should be an enjoyable holiday, Silentnight's resident sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, has compiled her top tips for minimising symptoms caused by crossing time zones.
- Preparation is key and travellers should start preparing the week before you travel. Get good sleep, exercise regularly - preferably outdoors, eat healthily, avoid caffeine and be well hydrated.
- At the airport move around as much as possible. Having so many hours to kill in an airport ahead of a flight can make us all tempted to sit around and do very little but this is the worst thing you can do. Stay active at the airport and you won't feel as sluggish when you board your flight.
- On the day you are travelling, and when you arrive at your destination, eat a healthy meal with fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid caffeine and refined sugars and the heavily salted plane food if possible. Take snacks on board with you such as oat cakes, nuts and dried fruit, crudite´s and fresh fruit.
- Drink wisely during your flight to stay hydrated and avoid stimulants. Take a large bottle of water on the plane with you and always have water at the ready. Take your own herbal tea bags with you so you can still have a hot drink but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Close your eyes and meditate on take off and landing for 20 minutes each time. Breathe deeply and imagine putting down roots on your exhalation. Imagine those roots going all the way down to the core of the earth, anchoring you to the earth's core.
- Get up out of your seat and move around regularly. This will improve blood flow and stop you from feeling too lethargic
- If you have to work, only do so for short amounts of time, then put your laptop and papers away and choose some relaxing inflight entertainment, listen to music or read a book. If you get tired though don't doze off during an activity, if you start feeling sleepy, switch the film off or put the book down and prepare to rest.
- Put the emphasis on resting rather than sleeping. Use products that use lavender oils or euca- lyptus on the plane such as tissues or scented flight cushions. Use eye masks and ear plugs and put a 'DO NOT DISTURB' sign on your table if you don't want to be woken for meals or duty free shopping trollies.
- When you get to your destination try to hold off on napping until it is time to sleep. If you feel sleepy go for a walk on the beach. You must synchronise to your destination to beat jet lag. Eat light as feeling too full will add to your tiredness, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.
- Avoid taking any medication to help you sleep. Your body needs to naturally adjust to the time- zone and you disrupt this process using medication. If you can't sleep, just lie down and think about having a rest - it's likely you will drift off to sleep anyway.