Pilots and flight attendants share their top tips for beating jet lag

There’s no denying that the perks of going on holiday far outweigh any negatives.

But one drawback to any long-haul trip is the jet lag.

According to the NHS, jet lag is when a normal sleep pattern is disturbed after a long flight – and, sadly, it cannot be prevented. 

There are, however, a number of ways to help alleviate the tiredness and get over it quicker.

We spoke to those who regularly take to the sky about their top tips for beating jet lag – like Captain Albarece, a pilot who has worked for Philippine Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines for 14 years.

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Flying is my passion, and nothing gives me more pleasure than being at the controls in the cockpit.

‘However, jet lag is a constant companion when you fly long-haul, and I have developed a few routines over time to keep it at bay.’

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you have an upcoming trip away…

Get outside when it’s daytime

It can be really tempting when you get back from a trip to sleep during the day – as tiredness can often feel like it’s taking over when suffering from jet lag.

However, Captain Albarece recommends getting outside as much as possible.

‘Sun exposure is crucial,’ he says. ‘Also when I’m away, I try my best to keep sun exposure in tune with my normal body clock and adjust it according to my schedule – this helps to cause the least disruption.’

Make use of plane time

A good place to start when it comes to tackling jet lag is on the plane itself.

Ex-crew member Jo Fiander tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Make full use of your time on the plane. For example, adjust your watch/phone to the new time zone as soon as you get on the plane to help your brain adjust.

‘Also force yourself to eat at your usual time, but in the new time zone, wait if you can – even if starving or eat something even if not hungry.’

Practice self-discipline

‘It’s all about self discipline e.g. make yourself get up or sleep at your usual time,’ adds Jo.

But if you can’t sleep, try not to panic or overthink it – instead Jo suggests something else.

She says: ‘In the new time zone, if you can’t sleep just relax – try a sleep meditation. Also, if helpful, use the time on the plane to sleep and stop watching all those movies.’

Keep water close by

Water can help us stay alert and concentrate more – so it can be saviour in the days following a trip.

But it’s also a good idea to ensure you’re drinking lots of it during the flight – setting your body up in the best way possible for any difficult hours/days to follow.

‘Stay hydrated and eat sparingly while flying. Hydration helps me limit fatigue,’ adds Captain Albarece.

Move on the plane

Captain Albarece also stresses the importance of trying to stay active during a flight – even if this is walking up and down the cabin. This will help tire the body out a little.

‘Ensuring good blood circulation by keeping my body moving is a great way to beat jet lag,’ he adds.

‘Doing easy stretches in the cockpit and getting a workout in immediately after landing are great ways of not letting jet lag overwhelm me.’

Avoid certain drinks

‘Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they interfere with sleep,’ adds Jo.

Essentially, you want to avoid anything that might mess with your sleeping pattern any further.

Don’t give yourself too much to do on arrival/return

Jo adds: ‘If possible, try not to do too much on the first day – while your body adjusts.’

This might be on your first day of the trip or on your arrival back. Go easy on yourself with plans and factor in that you might be tired.

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