How to Avoid Jet Lag After Even the Longest Flights

Earlier this year the FASHION team headed to Hong Kong and Thailand. With only a few days in each location and a rough idea of all the places they wanted to photograph – the Ladies’ Market, Old Town Central, James Bond Island – they had to get to work straight after landing. I was fortunate to fly business class. It’s a game changer to be able to arrive having actually slept. It’s a 14-hour flight from Toronto and I think I was in dreamland for at least 8 of those hours! The rest of my time was spent sipping Deutz Brut Classic bubbles and dining on chicken teriyaki. I finished the meal with my fave cheese (Fourme d’Ambert) with quince jelly and a biscuit. Besides being able to get horizontal, these are other tips I followed to avoid jet lag.

Prepare: A few days ahead of time, start adjusting your eating schedule to synch of with meal times at your destination.

Choose the right flights: Our team flew with Cathay Pacific, which has lounges in major airports where passengers can grab glasses of champagne, bowls of noodles, pastries and cakes. There are also rooms for napping and showering (especially useful during a layover). Being well rested with a full stomach makes a 14 hour trip across the Pacific Ocean a bit easier.

It’s also important to consider what time you’ll be taking off and landing. Overnight flights are said to be easier to adjust to than daytime flights.

Sleep: “Stay awake for at least four hours and then try to sleep for eight,” says Lynn Chen, Cathay Pacific’s inflight service manager, when we board our flight to Hong Kong. “Have a little meal and a glass of wine and watch a movie. Relax.” It’s easier to sleep in their fully reclinable seats, which turn into cocoon-like beds with the press of a button. For our long-haul flight, upgrading to get a full night’s rest was a must.

Stay hydrated: Regardless if your flight is one hour or 14, it’s important to take care of your skin while flying. The humidity inside the cabin is usually about half what your skin is used to, so drinking plenty of water and moisturizing is key while flying. (Also, try to limit the dehydrating in-flight cocktails, coffees and teas to a minimum.) Cathay Pacific’s amenity kit included moisturizing mists and creams from Jurlique, but you can never be too prepared or too hydrated, so consider bringing your favourite night cream.

After landing: While it might be tempting to head straight from the airport to sleep it off at the hotel, trying to stay awake until a reasonable time will help your clock adjust. There has also been research that suggests strategic light exposure can help reset your circadian rhythms. There are online calculators that use your departure and arrival cities and what times you’d ideally like to fall asleep to tell you when to seek out and avoid light to trick your body into adjusting its internal clock.