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How to Treat Jet Lag

Jet lag can be aggravated by air travel itself as it usually entails dehydration, lower oxygen intake due to the conditioned cabin air, tiredness and lack of sleep or stress. Ensure that you are well rested and have a light snack rather than a heavy meal before you embark on your journey. Drink plenty of water, at least 250ml (half a pint) of water for every hour spent on an airplane. Refrain from sugared or caffeinated foods as they will keep you awake and do not take any sleeping aids. Get some gentle exercise by walking around on the plane provided the seat belt sign is switched off, move your hands, feet and legs and stretch your neck muscles.


Once you arrive at your destination, do not give in and have a daytime nap no matter how tempting that might be – ideally you’ll stick to the new time zone regime right from the start even though that might be a struggle during the first couple of days. Some people find it helps to gently prepare yourself while still at home and going to bed and getting up a little earlier or later than usual depending on which time zone you are going to be in. Due to work or other daily commitments this is often impractical, however if you can, these measures could be useful to pre-adjust for your stay.

If you are taking medication such as the oral contraceptive pill or other drugs where timing is crucial, please take a watch with your local time to help you keep track. The interval between two drug doses needs to be constant so as to get the full benefit of the medicine. If you are away for longer, you can gradually change the time little by little until it syncs with the local time at your destination. If you are unsure, please contact your prescribing doctor for further advice on how to take these medicines.

Should I take Melatonin to combat Jet Lag?

Melatonin is a popular treatment among travellers to ease jet lag symptoms. The hormone naturally occurs in plants, animals and humans and controls our wake/sleep rhythm as well as associated bodily functions. It is produced in a small gland in the brain and released during the hours of darkness. It signals the brain that it’s time to sleep which is why we gradually start feeling tired in the evening once the sun has gone down. The logical conclusion therefore is to take a small dose of melatonin before bedtime at your new destination for the first few days to increase the natural melatonin levels which are out of balance while your body is adjusting to the new time zone. In the UK, melatonin is available under the brand name Circadin, a prescription only medication.