Air Partner - 12 Apr 2018
Jet lag is a common problem for any passenger flying long haul and can affect even those who are well-travelled and often fly privately for business. It can leave you with exhausting symptoms, such as feeling fatigued, anxious, nauseous and dizzy. These symptoms can be frustrating to cope with - even more so when you are flying frequently and don’t have the time in your schedule to rest and recover.
Part of the Air Partner Group, Clockwork Research is a fatigue risk management consultancy and has put some tips together on how you can reduce the effects of jet lag. The team of experienced professionals, made up of psychologists, physiologists and safety professionals, use a scientific understanding of human fatigue to deliver innovative fatigue risk management solutions across the aviation industry.
Jet lag happens when you experience disruption to the internal body clock (or circadian rhythm) and your body clock is out-of-sync with the environment. One of the most noticeable effects is not being able to sleep when you want to, or experiencing elevated day-time sleepiness. The severity of jet lag, and the recovery time required, depends on how many time zones are crossed. Recovery is easier when travelling westwards, as it is easier to delay and sleep later. Conversely, travelling eastwards can be more of a struggle, when we have to fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier than we would at home. In any case, the more time zones crossed, the more difficult it is to recover.
If possible, try and choose the timing of your flight to make jetlag recovery easier. Evidence shows that flights that are minimally disruptive to our sleep patterns (e.g. that don't require us to stay awake for a lot longer than normal) make jetlag recovery easier. Where this isn't possible, there are some other strategies that you can try before, during and after your flight:
Light is the biggest signal to our body clocks about whether it is day or night. As such, light is really important in helping your body clock to adapt to your new time zone. However, you have to get the timing right for the biggest benefit. It depends on the number of time zones you have crossed, but generally, the advice is to seek light in the mornings after Eastbound travel (this helps wake you up in the morning), and avoid too much light in the evening. After Westbound travel, avoid light in the early morning, to help you sleep later, and seek light in the evening.
The alerting effect of light is due to our body's reaction to blue light that we find in natural daylight. While outside light is the best, bright inside lights (especially from 'white' LED light) also have an effect.
Phones, tablets and computers emit the same blue light that we find in daylight, so may be disruptive to your adaptation. You should avoid looking at them close to bedtime or during the night if you wake. You can further reduce the impact of these digital devices by installing blue light reduction apps, such as f.lux or using night mode – also make sure you update it to your new time zone.
The flexibility of flying by private jet means you can do lots of other things to help avoid the feeling of jet lag when you land. With bespoke catering, you can select lighter meals and consume food whenever you want, fitting meal times to your new time zone. In your private cabin you also have the legroom and space to stretch your legs and keep your blood flow moving. Less time spent travelling also means your journey will be quicker and you will feel less tired when you arrive at your destination.
Furthermore, the larger jets will provide comfortable sleeping accommodation. Whether or not to sleep on the plane very much depends on the timing of the flight. If you are flying during night time at your destination, sleeping on board will definitely help and many jets have the option of converting the divan or seats into flat beds. However, if your flight is entirely within your destination's daytime hours it is best to try not to sleep, to better help with your body clock adjustment – use the time to relax or catch up on work instead.
Many private jet models also have a 100% fresh air filter in their air circulation systems, reducing the fug and stale atmosphere that is usually noticeable on scheduled flights. There is limited evidence that the cabin environment (comprising of the cabin pressure, humidity levels, noise & movement) could have an effect on 'travel fatigue'. This fatigue is the tiredness you experience after traveling. As opposed to jet lag, the defining feature of travel fatigue is that it is resolved with a good night's sleep. With the combination of air filter, some newer private jet models enabling you to adjust the cabin pressure, reduced noise in the cabin and more space to move around, it is highly likely that flying by private jet will reduce the travel fatigue you experience.