Sleep patterns can be disturbed on long haul flights as you travel through different time zones and as a result you can become disorientated tiered and weak. When traveling from West to East the body finds it harder to adjust to shorter days and as a result jetlag can be more intense.
Our body clock becomes used to the rhythm of being awake and asleep and when that rhythm is disrupted by a different time zone i.e. its light when your body has become accustomed to it being dark, then your body is thrown out of sync and it could take a few days for your body to re-acclimatize.
If you rely on medication to be taken at specific times of the day or night you should seek medical advice before traveling as the different sleep pattern could cause you issues with the timing of taking your medication.
Tips to help combat Jet Lag
Top up on Sleep
Try to have a sleep before you depart and whilst in the air, sleep as much as possible so you are fully rested when you arrive at your destination.
Adjust your sleep pattern before you travel
Research the time zone you are traveling to, earlier (when travelling east) or later (when travelling west). Try and adjust your sleep pattern to match the country you will be traveling to for a few days prior to departure.
Break your flight up
When travelling very long distances it may me better to stop off midway with the advantage of visiting an extra destination and reducing the fatigue you will be suffering. Traveling in this way can also reduce Jet Lag although it must be financially viable.
During your Flight
Keep Hydrated during your Flight
Hydration is very important as dehydration can intensify Jet Lag also the air-conditioning in the airport and whilst in flight can increase dryness. Try and avoid stimulants like tea, coffee or alcohol as they can disrupt sleep.
Sleep during Flight
Make a list of the things that might help you sleep while you are in flight i.e. earplugs, eye shades, neck pillow or even soothing music via an iPod. Try to keep active during the day prior to your flight as this can help to make you tired whilst in flight but try and relax before the flight.
Try not to take any sleeping drugs as this will not help long term, try to adjust naturally and form your new sleeping patterns.
Arrival at your Destination
Sleep as normal
When you arrive at your destination try and get as much sleep as you normally would even if you have to top up your night sleep by napping during the day until you re-adjust to your new sleep pattern.
Your body will naturally adjust after a few days and the natural cycle of dark and light will help re-set your body clock quicker.
A Brief Trip
If you are only going for a short trip you will probably be better remaining in “home time” as you will just be starting to adjust to the new time zone then have to return home for the process to start all over again, which will make you feel even more disorientated.