When you’ve booked your holiday to Thailand you usually want to get there as soon as possible to make the most of your precious time. Not surprising then, that most people travelling from the UK and Ireland choose to take a non-stop flight to Bangkok, which can last 10-11 hours.
However, a common problem with a long flight is jet lag – which is when your normal body rhythms get disturbed as you shift across time zones. Thailand is six hours ahead of the UK and Ireland and your body rhythms have to adjust to a different cycle of night and day. Unfortunately your body adjusts slowly and you may feel sleepy during the day and wide awake in the middle of the night! Sometimes people feel physical symptoms too, including muscle weakness, headaches and indigestion.
Beautiful beach, Ko Kood, Thailand. Photo credit: ©Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Our friends at Healing Holidays & The Kamalaya Koh Samui have some great tips on how to avoid and minimise the effects of jet lag:
Before you travel
- Try to go to bed one hour earlier each successive night for the three nights prior to your departure for Thailand.
- Set your watch to your destination time the day before you travel and start adjusting yourself to the new time. Thailand is six hours ahead of your normal time zone so If it is six hours later at your travel destination, this means waking up six hours earlier the day you travel and then going to sleep when it is night-time at your destination.
- Remember to take sleeping aids for the flight: eyeshades, ear plugs, neck rests and blow up pillows are useful in helping you get quality sleep while flying.
During the flight
- Drink plenty of water. The atmosphere inside the aeroplane cabin is actually drier than that of a desert which contributes to dehydration and oedema (abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin).
- Avoid alcohol and coffee as these are dehydrating.
- Avoid overeating. Eat small snacks or light meals.
- Exercise as much as you can on the flight. Try walking up and down the aisle, standing up for a while, and stretching exercises – particularly your legs. These will all help to reduce discomfort and leave you feeling fresher upon arrival.
This shot video has some great tips on in-flight exercises:
- Expose the back of your knees to direct sunlight for fifteen minutes every day for the first three or four days at your new destination (avoid the hours when the sun is at its strongest between 11 and 3). It might sound odd but this is a tip from airline pilots who have found this helps them adjust to new time zones.
- When you have travelled eastward (such as to Thailand), exposure to bright early morning light at your destination will help speed up the adjustment to the new time zone. (NB: If flying westward, exposure to bright afternoon light at your destination is beneficial). The pineal gland in your brain releases melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, at night. The gland takes its cue from your retina, which receives a regular amount of sunlight in your local time zone. The rhythm of sunlight is broken when you cross time zones, so your body may think it is night when it is day.
- Enjoy your holiday! Try to start being active in the new time zone as soon as you arrive. Hopefully you will be having so much fun that you will be unaware of any jet lag.
- Limit naps to no more than one hour.
So…next time you fly to Thailand why not try out these tips to reduce jet lag? Don’t forget to let us know how you get on – and if you’ve got any other tips on beating jet lag, don’t forget to leave a comment below.
For more tips on how to stay happy and healthy while on holiday, including Happy Travel Skin and Remedies for Sunburn Relief, check out Healing Holidays blog here.