Don’t Forget to Pack the Sunglasses

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Jet lag won’t slow you down if you wear sunglasses during a flight

Don’t wait until you get off the plane to pull out those new shades. Wearing your sunglasses during the flight helps to reduce the effects of jet lag, according to sleep experts.

A study conducted by The Edinburgh Sleep Centre on behalf of British Airways found that people can adjust their body clocks when traveling to different time zones by altering their light patterns.

To help combat the effects of jet lag, long distance air travellers are advised to wear sunglasses during the latter stages of an overnight flight and for the first several hours after landing.

“The internal body clock steps up at dawn which is when we can manipulate exposure to light, it’s a way of fooling the biological clock,” said Dr. Chris Idzikowski, study leader.

A passenger who does not wear sunglasses will need one day to recover for every hour of time difference travelled westwards. “It takes five days to recover from a five hour flight to New York from Britain and 50 per cent longer when flying eastwards,” Dr. Idzikowski said.

The study, which monitored more than 1,000 passengers, also found that 67 per cent of people do not know how to manage jet lag, using inappropriate coping mechanisms such as trying to ignore it or drinking alcohol as a way to get through it instead

Only 11 per cent tackled the problem with the correct mixture of light exposure, food, fluid and exercise.

Idzikowski said many people believe jet lag is in the mind. “The biological clock is 20,000 nerve cells in the brain; it is a physical thing and not made up like many people think.”

While some experts advise changing your watch to the destination time when boarding a plane, this offers little value unless you adjust the rest of your routine to the same time – eating at the ‘new’ dinner time and taking a nap if it’s the ‘new’ night time, added Idzikowski.

NEXT: More Tips to Prevent Jet Lag

According to TravelSense, here are some other tips to help prevent jet lag:

• Store up on sleep. Because sleep is effective at countering the effects of jet lag, go to bed a little earlier for a few days before you leave on your trip and sleep as much as possible on the flight.

• Many side effects of jet lag are the result of dehydration. Drink plenty of water during the flight and avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages.

• Eat lightly on your flight and forego rich or exotic foods on the first several days of your trip. This will allow your body to use its energy to adjust to the new surroundings and time zone rather than on digesting food.

• Exercise during a long flight to help alleviate backaches, swollen legs and feet and general fatigue. Stretching at regular intervals and walking up and down the aisles will also help to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.

• Take it easy on the day you arrive to allow your body to establish a routine in sync with the local time.