British Airways conducted a study on passengers' in-flight sleeping habits and found that whilst most people understood how they get jet lag, 67 per cent of people surveyed don't know how to manage it.
As a result, the airline developed a new jet lag calculator, with the help of Dr Chris Idzikowski, one of UK's leading authorities on sleep, which recommends some ways to overcome jet lag - namely through seeking and avoiding light.
Dr Idzikowski explained the influence of light on human's body clock.
He said: "Light is one of the primary cues that the internal body clock uses to maintain a link with the outside world. Flying across time zones puts the body into new patterns of light and activity more quickly than the body clock can adjust to it. Confusing the body clock like this is what causes jet lag."
The jet lag calculator gives users an indication of an optimum time slot to seek and avoid light. In seeking light for example, a traveller should expose him- or herself to a light source to give the body clock a cue that it is day time. Doing so, the body is given time to recover from jet lag and more swiftly ease into the new time zone.
British Airways also developed a tool for calculating slump time - the time frame you will feel the sleepiest. Having that information will help especially business travellers plan their meetings around slump time and avoid having mind-challenging meetings during the time they feel like snoozing the most.
Dr Idzikowski also said that jet lag can also sometimes be confused with travel fatigue, which is "a combination of the stress of travelling and the sleep debt accrued whilst travelling".
The attention span of those suffering from travel fatigue can be reduced by 75 per cent, and his or her ability to make normal judgements and decisions can be reduced by 50 per cent, said the report released by British Airways.
So instead of starting off your holiday or business trip with jet lag or travel fatigue, here are six helpful tips to minimise jet lag.
Tips for a restful flight
6 top tips for a restful flight
Get a good flight's sleep next time you travel with these quick fixes for satisfying slumber.
Use exercise to reset your body clock or to revitalise after a long flight. Exercise in the morning of your new time zone.
Take it easy for two to three hours before bed time and, during your flight, relax your muscles before sleep by doing gentle stretches and walking up and down the aisles.
2. Use caffeine strategically
Yes, it disrupts sleep, but if you know how long its effects last, it can help you to manage your sleep.
Get the most from your tea or coffee by figuring out when you will be at your most sleepy and having a cup then, rather than drinking it throughout the day.
Also, always avoid caffeine two to three hours prior to bed time.
3. Manage alcohol intake
Alcohol is widely used as a sleep remedy but it can disrupt sleep. In addition, while it can knock you out, it can mean that you don't breathe properly while asleep. While scientific research shows that a nightcap doesn't promote sleep, it is alright to have one in moderation.
4. Strategic napping
Some sleep is always better than no sleep. Naps improve performance and alertness.
Once you arrive in your new time zone, calculate when your body would normally be sleeping and schedule a strategic nap for that time. The optimum nap time is 45 minutes. Any more and you'll fall into a deep sleep and wake up groggier than if you hadn't napped at all.
Alternatively, a two-hour nap allows your body to go through a full sleep cycle. Always give yourself 15 minutes to wake up from a longer nap and don't nap too close to your main sleep period.
5. Be aware of slump time
Be aware of when you're going to be sleepiest and don't book important meetings for that time. For example, when you travel from Singapore to London (GMT +8), you will hit slump time between London 5pm and 8pm - the equivalent of 12am to 3am at home.
6. Staying on home time
If you're away for 48 hours or less, beat jet lag by staying on home time. That means, eating at the times you would at home, staying out of the light when you'd normally be in darkness at home (use sunglasses or stay indoors), and avoiding important meetings during your maximum sleepy time.
Your sleep checklist
YOUR SLEEP CHECKLIST
Before the flight
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Start adjusting your sleep schedule with your destination's time zone in mind
- Minimise stress during the flight by getting organised for your trip early
- Pick out a travelling outfit of loose fitting comfortable clothes
- Check in online so you can start relaxing as soon as you get to the airport
During the flight
- Use sleep triggers from your bedtime routine
- Select a relaxing music channel from HighLife Entertainment
- Use an eye mask, neck pillow and ear plugs
- Change your watch to your destination time
- Relax your muscles with gentle stretches and walking up and down the aisle
When you arrive
- Exercise in the morning to help reset your body clock
- If you're staying somewhere unfamiliar, make sure the room isn't too hot or too cold and ask that you're not disturbed when trying to sleep
- Use sleep triggers from your bedtime routine
- You will feel most tired between 12am and 3am home time. Figure out when this will be and avoid important meetings, take a strategic nap or use caffeine during this time
- If you're on a short trip of less than 48 hours, avoid jet lag altogether by staying on home time as much as possible
- Avoid exercise within two to three hours of bedtime
Once you're home
- Make a note of factors that helped you avoid travel fatigue and beat jet lag and anything that caused you stress.
- Use this list to help you plan for your next flight.
- Calculate your slump time here and check out the jet lag advisor here .
For more information on sleep, listen to a series of sleep advice podcasts from British Airways' own sleep expert, Dr Sleep, Chris Idzikowski.
Source: British Airways