The holiday season is coming up soon and if you plan to travel long-haul and want to minimize the effects of jet lag – here are some tips:

Diet – Drinks – Drugs (natural, of course) – Daylight

Before leaving for your trip, ensure you are well rested. Keep the two days prior to your journey stress and hassle free, even if it means being hectic earlier in the week.

Diet: : If you’re flying over night avoid eating the first meal served during the flight and sleep on the plane. Travelling is tiring and you need to get sleep when you can! This is especially important when you’re flying west to east, as you lose time going in this direction. It will lessen the symptoms of jetlag, but do move around the plane when you’re awake to keep the blood circulation moving. Eat the snack meal served before landing. Preorder a special meal, it comes first and you can request a healthy option. Upon arrival eat according to the local eating schedule and avoid large heavy spicy meals, as your metabolism is not functioning optimally yet.

Drinks: Stay hydrated before, during and after the flight. Prevent dehydration by avoiding alcohol, the plane environment is already very dry and alcohol will only aggravate the problem. Drink lots of water! Although water is provided during the flight, I find it’s not enough, so bring your own bottled water on board. If it’s morning when you arrive, then have one caffeinated cup of coffee. It will give you a boost after a long journey but no more than one, and not after midday, as it will affect your sleep that evening. Keep in mind, drinking alcohol before going to bed may get you off to sleep, but it interrupts the later stages of sleep and will exacerbate the effects of jetlag.

Drugs (Natural): Research shows that vitamin C strengthens the immune system. Before flying take a 1000mg of vitamin C. Travelling is tiring, and when tired your immune system dips making it easy to catch a cold or ‘flu virus circulating in the plane. Another tip is to place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a tissue and keep it close to your chest area or where you can inhale the aroma. Lavender is anti-infective and sedative. It boosts the immune system and will aid relaxation for you and the kids on a long journey. Chamomile tea is also a nice soothing drink for you and the kids. When my children were younger I always made some tea beforehand to give them a few sips during the flight. It takes the edge off restlessness and so helpful for travelling with a toddler. It will also soothe away any stress you might be feeling and aids sleep. It might be hard to bring liquid on board so keep a few teabags handy and ask for some hot water. On the first couple of nights after arrival, take a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime and try to stay up to reasonable time and avoid naps during the day. For small kids, a bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil and some chamomile tea before bed will help them settle. For the first 2-3 nights older kids (7years and older) and adults can take some Melatonin. The body uses this hormone to set its time clock and research suggests that it’s useful for minimizing jetlag. For those who don’t like to take pills, it’s available in liquid form, Check with your health practitioner that it is suitable for you. A traditional herbal remedy for sleep backed up by modern research is Valerian. It’s sedative without leaving you feeling groggy in the morning. Take a few drops in water before bed and again if you wake up during the night.

Daylight: Upon arrival and if it’s daylight, go outside for thirty minutes for a walk to get some sunlight. This is the best way to reset your internal clock to coincide with your new surroundings. You should do this for the following three days. If it’s evening when you arrive, try to go to bed at your normal local time and wake up at your normal time.

Enjoy your trip.

Andrea McIntyre, Naturopath.

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