We would probably all agree that the ‘flying’ part of travel is our least favourite part. Between the uncomfortable seats, the below average food and different timezones you have to adapt to, one way or another, we’ve all experienced stepping off the plane not feeling like the best version of ourselves. Here, sleep specialist Olivia Arezzolo shares what you can do both on and off the plane to help fight those feelings of jet lag for days to come.
1. Wear an eye mask on the plane
The aftermath of that incandescent light entering your eyes is that you’ll be super stimulated—regardless of if you’ve had a coffee or not. Studies show that light suppresses the hormone melatonin, which translates to you feeling less sleepy.
2. Sleep according to the timezone you’re arriving into (as much as possible).
Work backwards from where you’ll land and calculate when to sleep from that. Struggling to stay awake? Meditation is my go-to: academic studies demonstrate it’ll reduce the activity of your brain into a calmer state, so even if you’re not sleeping, it’s still helpful to replenish you back to your best.
3. Once off the plane, get exposure to light if you can
If you land when it’s daylight, try and get exposure to light. This naturally enhances the body’s production of cortisol, which helps you feel alert and awake as reported in Psychoneuroendocrinology. Alternatively, get outside the next morning and expose yourself to light as early as possible. Researchers have found it resets the 24-hour circadian rhythm. This not only translates to greater mental and physical energy that morning but also, facilities your body synthesising melatonin that evening, which allows you to naturally feel tired—when you’re meant to.
4. Avoid heavy plane food
Filled with gluten, dairy, sugar and a lot of other shelf-life extending toxins, a meal with these constituents is going to take extensive time to digest. As noted in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, upon sleeping, you want your body to be as relaxed as possible. Read: Not digesting your beef korma. Instead, pack your own food.
My go-to for a long-haul flight? A giant veggie salad (think spinach, sweet potato, cucumber, sun-dried tomato and a sprinkle of feta), around six boiled eggs still in their shells, a few pieces of fruit, some rice crackers and some hummus. Sure, it takes up half my bag, but more importantly, I feel nourished, energised and full when I eat it.
5. Skip the onboard alcohol
Given the plethora of cocktails you’ll be consuming your long-awaited trip, is it really necessary to down a glass of white while you’re sky high? Much research has shown the effects of alcohol and dehydration, which can consequently make you feel flat and fatigued upon arrival.
Follow @oliviaarezzolo for more sleep tips!