Everyone wants to start their holidays feeling refreshed and ready to go – but what’s the best course of action to take when jet lag is slowing you down?
"Crossing three time zones or more significantly increases your risk of experiencing jet lag symptoms"
Any traveller who has ever jetted across multiple time zones to reach an exotic destination on the other side of the globe will undoubtedly have experienced some form of jet lag. Essentially, this term describes the set of symptoms that arise as a result of the sudden disruption of your body’s daily sleep-wake cycle – its circadian rhythm. Not only is there a tiring long-haul flight for your body to get over, but there’s also likely to be a new daylight and night-time routine to adjust to, as well as a brand new local diet to adjust to. We’ve put together this guide to help you get over jet lag and start feeling refreshed fast and ready to enjoy your villa holiday to the full.
Understanding jet lag
"Catching a few hours of shut-eye on the plane can help combat the effects of jet lag"
Getting to grips with the causes of jet lag and exactly what your body is going through is the first step to getting over it. After a long-haul flight to an exotic destination like Thailand, your body’s biological clock will need to re-align itself to the local time zone. People who have travelled across more than three time zones are likely to experience the effects of jet lag the most, particularly those who have journeyed in an easterly direction.
A disturbed sleep pattern is one of the most common symptoms of jet lag – for example, you may be wide awake at 3am but feeling ready to hit the sack at lunchtime. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, lethargy and even muscle soreness. That’s why it’s important to take the right steps as soon as you touch down to try and banish all of these side effects from your long journey.
"It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol at altitude if you want to experience minimal jet lag"
While many travellers are lured by the temptation of pre-flight champagne in the airport lounge, followed by a glass or two of wine on the plane, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether if you want to minimise the symptoms of jet lag. The effects of alcohol at altitude tend to increase tiredness and dehydration, making it even harder to beat jet lag when you finally do touch down. So, try to save your holiday toast for when you reach your destination – better still, celebrate you’re at your private holiday villa gazing out across the ocean.
"Once you arrive in your destination catch up on your sleep"
Once you arrive at your holiday accommodation – whether that’s a hotel in Bangkok or a lavish private villa in Koh Samui or Phuket – it’s important to try and catch up on your sleep fast. Aim to get as much sleep as you normally would in a 24-hour period, with eight hours of uninterrupted slumber being the ideal target. You can also make up any shortfall with a cat nap on your day of arrival.
The plush sleeping quarters in many of Thailand’s private villas are a perfect haven for travellers trying to catch up on sleep. Many feature blackout blinds that you can use to block out the light if you’re concerned that the rays will creep inside and wake you up at 6am. The best course of action is to take a hot shower in your ensuite’s spacious waterfall-style shower, as it will encourage the cooling process your body naturally begins before sleep. Once you toss back the plump cushions and cosy duvet, sinking into the mattress will be the ultimate relief.
Nourish your body
"Eat light, balanced meals in line with the local time zone"
Eating three meals a day, in line with your new local time zone, is another key approach to try and beat the effects of jet lag. Re-hydrating your body after the long flight is the most important thing, so make sure there’s always a glass of water to hand. Tropical Thai fruit juices and hot cups of herbal tea can also be used to supplement your H20 intake.
When you’re feeling tired, it can be tempting to overeat – but this can often exacerbate the effects of jet lag. Try to keep your energy levels steady by consuming nutritious, well-balanced meals. Thailand is known for its fresh, tasty cuisine, so pick meals that come with plenty of plant-based sustenance and complex carbohydrates. Whole-grain bread, nuts, cheese and yoghurt are good for snacks.
"Gentle exercise will help to release any muscle strain"
Although it may be the very last thing you feel like doing, trying to do a little exercise once you arrive at your holiday destination can be a good way to try and beat jet lag. Not only will the extra movement increase the level of mood-boosting endorphins in your body, but it will also help to stretch out any muscle kinks which have developed over the course of the long-haul flight. If you’re not keen on the idea of an intense workout, a walk along the beach close to your private villa, or even a few laps in your private pool can help alot.
TOP TIP: SPA THERAPY
After a long flight that crosses several time zones, the sooner you replenish the oxygen levels and nutrients in your muscles, the sooner you will be back to normal. An invigorating massage is a sure way to help this process begin and destinations like Thailand me Bali are famous for stimulating massage treatments. Boosting the circulation to your muscles will relieve any muscle soreness associated with jet lag.