How to Combat Jet Lag

A long-haul flight can often leave you feeling tired and uninspired no matter how amazing the destination. This flight fatigue is better known as jet lag and is sadly a reality many of us have to face when we travel abroad.

The advent of the airplane, and the speed at which it can travel has meant that we are crossing time zones faster than our body can keep up. This upsets the body’s natural circadian rhythms which regulate the internal clock, often leading to sleepless nights and ungodly wake up times. At Black Tomato we are no stranger to the long haul, and over the years have crafted a few tried and tested antidotes to make sure that you re-adjust to the real world with ease, or perhaps more importantly, get that extra time on the beach.

The prep

As the old military adage goes ‘Preparation prevents poor performance’, so there is much you can do before you even travel to limit the damage on the body.

  • Plan your flights well in advance and leave plenty of time for connections. Rushing to and around an airport will only exacerbate symptoms of jet lag. Save the stress for returning to work, and saunter to your flight with time abundant.
  • As much as we all want to fly in style, pack comfortable breathable clothes for your journey. No heels. Packed into the plane, you will sit and sleep with far greater ease, and we’re sure that perhaps even the right tracksuit can be stylish.
  • There is a bit of a mixed opinion when it comes to booking- red eye or daytime? If you are lucky enough to be able to sleep on flights go for an overnighter. You will arrive bright and early to a full day of activities and conk out in the evening. For the less fortuitous, seek out flights landing just before your holiday bedtime.
  • Finally, adjust your schedule accordingly. Psychologically (and practically) the sooner you switch to the local time zone, the easier things will be. Change your watch on the plane, or pre-emptively bring your regular daily programme forwards or backwards (depending on flight direction. West loses hours, East gains). Think like a local, sleep like a local.

The tech

So you’ve done your homework, the flights and hotels are booked. Sunscreen- check, unfortunate but necessary hat- check, trashy airport novel- check. But what about some extra kit to help combat jetlag?

  • The wearable Ostrich Pillow is a game changer, well suited to airports and the office. Whilst not the most discrete of items, this all encompassing pillow-hat will help you block both the early morning light and the screams of the child in row D, giving you a most accommodating sleep on the plane. It obviously cradles your neck in a way the measly airplane backrests never could.
  • If there is an app for sending texts to yourself, there is an app of fighting jet lag. And it’s actually useful. Jet Lag Rooster uses real science and your flight plan to create a shifting sleep schedule informing you of the best times to a) sleep b) seek or avoid light. This can be done with the aid of a…
  • …lightbox. This magic (kind of) device shines brightly when it is dark out, tricking the body into thinking it’s actually day, which in turn shifts the body clock. They tend to be small and portable, and should come with an inbuilt dimmer switch, allowing you to gently sync with your new environment. Also available in minority report style glasses.
  • A run of the mill sleeping mask should adequately do the opposite if you need to shun out light. If your head is not buried in an ostrich pillow of course.

The Meds

Now we aren’t suggesting that you dose up with whatever is available under the counter, but medication has been proven to seriously work when treating the symptoms of Jet Lag.

  • Less of a medicine, more a life necessity, water is vital to the treatment of Jet Lag. Skip the dehydrating drinks on offer and have a glass or three of it on the plane. You will feel as fresh as can be after a 15 hour flight (comparatively not that fresh), and won’t be plagued with as many nasty side effects like nausea and/or a hangover.
  • Homeopathy is no longer for the new age, and one of our team swears by a dual approach of bush flower essence to emotionally stabilise you- preventing distortion, combined with jet lag pills containing a host of wonder-plants.
  • Melatonin is the hormone produced in the pituitary gland that regulates the circadian cycle and makes us feel sleepy. Apparently. If you are careful with the dosage, and take it at the right time it will act a bit like a reset button. It’s all natural, legal and recommend by health professionals, so ditch the night cap and give it a go.
  • A flight can be rough and tough on the body. Remaining still for so long whilst being chucked about by turbulence can have a bruising affect. Whilst arnica won’t cure all your jet lag problems, it should hopefully make the start of your trip a tad more comfortable.

The Alternate

Not all cures are conventional; everyone seems to have an old-wives-tale that they hold to be true, so here are a few bizarre but well and truly tested cures for jet lag.

  • Why not splash out for an upgrade? The roomier seats and accompanying lounges will do wonders for that all important sleep, and surely it couldn’t harm too much to imbibe in a glass or two of complementary champagne.
  • Perhaps advice better suited to the young at heart, go for a few drinks when you arrive (if past cocktail hour of course), and maybe a bit of a dance. The soporific effect of large amounts of booze will ease you into a gentle-ish sleep, and whilst you may not be as fresh the next day, hopefully your sleeping pattern will have been reset.
  • As silly as it sounds, sunshine on the back of the knee appears to actually work. Photoreceptors which monitor light, and in turn, the circadian sleep cycle appear to have been found on the back of the knee, so shining a light will regulate this.
  • Throw out the rule book and let it run its course to see where it takes you. Certain destinations can be fantastic at all hours. Plunging city skylines, sunrise at the beach, dancing the night away in underground bars and clubs. There are certain benefits of being awake, providing you’ve booked the right hotel, you’ll be sure to catch up at some point.