The Answer To That Waking Nightmare

The sub heading of the Frequent Traveller article section reads “the world is your office….but you’d rather stay at home”. This month the heading should have added ….and go to sleep. The article is about the nightmare of waking up in the middle of the night with jet lag and not being able to get back to sleep.
It strikes me as a real shame to see a seasoned traveller trot out the same old tips in an attempt to beat the jet lag demons.

Our intrepid traveller neglects to tell us how she managed to stay up all day to get on local time. Acclimatising to local time is a good thing but the manner in which she does it is a different matter.

Did she turn to that faithful standby caffeine, which may help during the day but will exact it’s revenge on you by night. As a central nervous system stimulant its effects can last longer in different people and beyond the ingestion period.

Going easy on the wine at dinner is rather non-descript. Did she or didn’t she? We don’t know for sure, however the parched throat and pounding head would only be half the story. Acid pH tends to be one of the main hangovers from flying and alcohol consumption in the air or on the ground is never going to be a good idea so soon after a flight.

Absent is the mention or direct acknowledgement of sleep rituals. Those things we habitually do consciously and subconsciously that precede sleep. In their place are some classic no no’s!

Red light LED alarm clocks by the bed side is one of them. Melatonin’s release to aid sleep depends on darkness and red light doesn’t count as darkness. Look it up in the avoid jet lag manual 101!

If you are ever visited by the jet lag demons and you can’t drift back to sleep within fifteen minutes of waking get up. Get up and start the sleep ritual all over again to tell your body it is time to sleep again. Staying in bed and tossing and turning is not a good strategy.

If all else fails and you find yourself awake at dawn (between 4-6 for most places), get up and use this time to get on local time. This is the one time every 24 hours when you can advance or delay the body clock by seeking or avoiding natural light. Use it.

Whatever you do stay off the caffeine habit. Adrenal exhaustion is not a good look especially on frequent fliers.

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