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.
Why do I get jet lag?
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 traveling westwards, as it is easier to delay and sleep later. Conversely, traveling 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.
How do I best adapt to a new time zone?
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:
- Try to begin adapting to the new time zone before your leave home, for example by going to bed later before flying west bound, or getting up earlier before flying east bound, and adjusting your meal times more towards your destination times.
- On the flight, change your watch to the destination time as soon as you take-off. Try and match your behavior to the new time zone, eating meals at the timing of meals at your destination, and trying not to sleep during destination 'day-time'.
- When you reach your destination, as far as possible try to match your behavior to the new time zone as soon as possible. The timing of meals really helps to set our body clock, so eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on destination time to help set your routine.
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.
How does flying by private jet help jet lag?
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 traveling 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.