The jet lag juggle

Its nearing that time of year. You can already feel Dubai sizzling; restless kids are ready to finish school, and everyone is talking about their travel plans…for some lucky ones amongst us, it’s time to escape for summer!

But with any break away comes one difficult - certainly disruptive - issue.  No, it’s not lost luggage (although that can be a nuisance). Nothing can ruin a holiday faster than the dreaded jetlag! Throw kids out of routine into the jetlag mix and you have a recipe for sleep-deprived disaster!

Since we pride ourselves here at helmii on delivering you into a blissful slumber every night, we thought it was our duty to share with you some top tips on beating the jetlag blues and getting into your holiday rhythm sooner.


West is best, East is a beast 

Jetlag occurs when we disrupt our circadian rhythm, the natural body clock which tells us when to wake or sleep.  Generally, when travelling east, it will take twice as long for your body clock to adjust than if you travel west - potentially up to a day for each time zone crossed.  Keep this in mind when planning your first few days of activities on arrival at your holiday destination as you might want to take it easy!  Similarly, if you will later be returning eastwards to Dubai, such as from the UK, maybe allow a few days on the ground before heading back to school or work. 

Pre-flight prep

Try relaxing your routine a few days before you go.  If you always eat and sleep at the same time every day your body is going to find it much tougher to adjust to sudden change.  This goes for kids too. If you will be travelling west, try keeping them up a little later at night for a few days prior, or put them to bed a little earlier in preparation for an eastward journey.  Of course, starting refreshed will always help, so get a good night’s sleep before departure!

Be plane picky

Obviously, if you can fly business or first class and enjoy a relaxing horizontal sleep, you will bounce back from jetlag faster than those in economy.  But never fear there is still a flight hack for everyone’s comfort.  Try flying on an A330 or an A380 if possible.  They are equipped with hi-tech humidification systems and purify the air every two minutes. Also, their LED lighting system will best simulate times of the day and they are often a little more generous with leg room.

Flight time

Although budget is often the biggest influence on our flight choice, flight time should be the most important for any long haul trip.  Arriving mid-afternoon gives you the best chance of staying awake and getting into rhythm faster. Arriving in the morning would be the next best choice, teemed with a nap shortly after arrival - but not longer than two hours and certainly not after lunch! During your flight and first day, try making up your sleep to the amount you would usually have in a normal 24-hour period.

Stopover or push through?

Although it can make the trip longer, a stopover can give your body more time to adjust to the time zones flashing by, especially if you can stay for a couple of days.  But if you’re travelling with small children, this can sometimes just drag out the inevitable.  Best to suck it up, long haul it, and get to your destination to deal with the jetlag fallout as soon as possible.  The sooner you can start recreating a good sleep environment in one place, the better.

In-flight comfort

First things first – move that clock! Changing your watch to the new time zone as soon as you are on board will help you psychologically prepare for your new time zone.

Wear relaxed clothes and layers to adjust your temperature for ultimate travel comfort.  If travelling overnight with kids, packing pajamas for them to change into will help encourage their sleep routine.  Eye masks and ear plugs are also excellent for reducing sleep distractions and great for older kids who may be tempted to peer round the seat to watch the neighbours’ television!

There are several flight aids such as feet hammocks and inflatable footstools on the market now which are absolute game-changers for parents trying to get kids to sleep. And adults like them too - everyone is more comfortable with their feet slightly raised!  Not all airlines will allow them so check with your airline before you fly.


Eat move, drink move

Where possible, eat sensibly on your flight.  Yes, it’s tempting in its cute little packets but airline food is often high in carbohydrates and oils that are not conducive to a good sleep and not great for your metabolism when sitting for so long.  Eating less and moving around whenever possible will help combat this. 

Drink, drink, drink…water!  Jetlag is partly a result of dehydration which is exacerbated at altitude. Water is your best friend on the flight.  Avoiding alcohol and caffeine is key to faster recovery from jetlag. 

Exercising on arrival is also a great secret to getting your metabolism back on track.  Moderate exercise if you arrive in the morning will help wake you up for the day, whereas light exercise in the evening will help prepare you for a good sleep.

Shine on!

You’ve finally made it, you’re off the plane and out of your pyjamas (hopefully), you’re semi refreshed after drinking gallons of water and getting some sleep. It’s daytime due to your perfectly-planned flight time, your watch is set…one last trick should do it.  Seek the sunlight! Light is the biggest factor in re-setting our body clock.  As tempting as it is to relax in a lush hotel room with its blackout curtains, try finding the pool instead! And if possible don’t visit granny on day one in her cosy, dimly-lit living room or you may end up joining her in a badly-timed nanna nap!  Instead, enjoy your first day in the refreshing daylight, then jump into your bedtime routine that night, at the correct adjusted hour. 

We know not every sleep away from home is fantastic with foreign environments, living out of a suitcase and sometimes a different bed every few days.   But we are sure your summer adventure will be amazing! And remember, it always makes coming home at the end, and falling into your own bed, that much more… blissful.  

Wishing you safe and happy summer travels from all the team at helmii! 

Do you have any top travel tips to share? We'd love to hear from you! Please comment below... 

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