Flying Jet Lag and Sleep

Sleep is the time when the body regenerates; it is an essential function not a luxury. If you did not sleep you would fall into an emotional and physical decline. Sleep deprivation is a basic method of torture. Lack of sleep distorts reality and saps the will. When your sleep pattern is interrupted by jet lag you can literally ‘live in hell;’ not the ideal way to start a holiday or negotiate a business deal.

I often recommend to clients that they add a sleep or relaxation recording to their iPod. Use the relaxation routine a few times before you travel, this will make it familiar and you will be more inclined to follow its suggestions. Jersey clients will appreciate this one as they always have an extra flight at the beginning and end of a long journey.

Some general tips on maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.

Exercise can help to regulate sleep patterns in general, but vigorous exercise should not be undertaken two hours or less before sleep, as it stimulates adrenaline, which helps to keep you awake. If you wake up and can’t get back to sleep within half an hour, don’t lie there and watch the clock. Chances are you are thirsty, so go to the toilet and then drink some room temperature water. Cold water acts as a stimulant and will wake you even more. Read the same chapter of the book that you did earlier in the evening ( as it will be less exciting an dwon’t overstimulate your mind). Allow your body to cool down go back to bed.

To avoid jet lag, you should take a few basic precautions:

1. Do not drink alcohol, coffee, or soft drinks for a few days before the journey and while flying. They are diuretics and add to the dehydration.

2. While flying keep to light meals and drink plenty of water. Remember that the cabin pressure does drop, as does the water content of the air. At altitude the thing people need most is water.

3. Start a routine of getting settled before you go away; this will condition your body into getting into sleep mode. Take a relaxing bath, get into your nightwear and read for about 15 minutes. Don’t watch the news in bed or drink alcohol or coffee. The idea is to avoid stimulation so that you can begin to shut down. Remember what works for one person may not for another, find your own pattern and stick to it.

4. Remember that part of the jet lag insomnia is lack of familiarity. Put familiar objects from beside your bed, photos etc, in your hotel room. Like animals, we respond to darkness, so turn the lights off, close the curtains and or use an eyeshade. Keep the room slightly cool not hot. Wear natural fabrics, as when you fly or sleep they enable the body to breathe more easily. When flying wear layers so you can put them on or take them off at need.

5. Walk around during your flight, as studies suggest that doing this can help to prevent deep vein thrombosis.

6. If you experience anxiety and stress because of flying, try listening to a relaxation tape before and during your flight. Drink a rehydration mix after flying and during the next day. Consider taking: B complex, magnesium supplement and trace minerals, herbal tea (chamomile) In flight.

While staying at your hotel:

Many people experience difficulty getting to sleep and also experience disturbed sleep when staying in a strange environment, which can leave them tired and drained and more vulnerable to opportunistic infections. To help prevent this and ensure you get a good nights rest, try: using an Eye mask, Neck pillow and Ear plugs. Drink plenty of water, read a relaxing book, and wear soft, loose, comfortable clothing. Eat light meals and request a quiet room. Put up the ‘do not disturb’ sign and leave some water out near your bed. Try to follow your usual ‘sleep routine’ as far as possible and get the switch board to hold all calls. Don’t allow the room to get too hot, and set out familiar objects If you do wake up, do the “back to sleep” routine. Have a massage during your stay if you can.