5 Steps To Conquer Jet Lag

By James Wong
13 February 2019
Travel, Jet Lag
ITP Images
GQ explores tried and tested methods to avoid time zone exhaustion

You know the deal: Long haul travel plays havoc on our bodies, which are programmed to built-in routines called circadian rhythms. These naturally signal when it’s time to do stuff, like when to eat and sleep. When back-to-back travel occurs, those rhythms are thrown into high-altitude chaos, leading to fatigue, indigestion, an inability to focus and more. Put simply, jet lag is a daymare infused nightmare for the modern international traveller.

Sure, climbing the frequent flyer ladder comes with perks – from lounges to upgrades to expedited boarding – but no amount of miles will help you escape the groggy clutches of jet lag.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to minimise its symptoms and quickly reboot your body clock into a new time zone. We spoke to five frequent flyers from the Middle East and beyond and uncovered their go-to methods to adjust.

Cryotherapy

Stay with us. Cyrotherapy sessions take less than three minutes, and are simpler and less sci-fi-ish than you might imagine. You stand in a chamber to enjoy a freezing cold mist being blasted on your body – in turn, it will help with muscle regeneration, immunity and skin rejuvenation. Most importantly, the treatment improves sleep disorders such as jet lag, since the body responds to the chilly temperatures by releasing hormones which assist in the activation of REM sleep, the deepest state of rest. Australian investment banker Tony Getty frequently flies between Sydney, Dubai and London. “When flying across different time zones, I always aim to book a session the day I land. Not only does it provide me with an immediate energy boost but it also regulates my sleep patterns and ensures I have no problem drifting off at night,” he says at LondonCryo, a cryotherapy centre.

Light Exercise

If you normally train at 6am, aim to train at the same time in your new location, but go light on the first day or so. Since the body is fatigued and stiffed from cramped cabins, it’s best to focus on simple stretch and yoga-based exercises, as well as low-intensity cardio. “After landing, I usually go for a 20-30 minute brisk walk outdoors in the fresh air,” says Hud Russell of The Gym Dubai. “Alternatively, a 30-45 minute light full body workout in the hotel gym really helps combat my jet lag.” Because flights result in dehydration, Russell advises going for a task that won’t get you too sweaty, and drinking plenty of water, which is crucial in normalising your bodily functions.

Ginseng

In terms of staying alert and eliminating that patented groggy feeling, ginseng herbs increase oxygen utilisation, bringing with them a sharper and clearer mental state. This reduces stress and anxiety, factors crucial for a better night’s sleep. Chang Sup Shin of Asian food specialist 1004 Gourmet in The Greens, Dubai, swears by switching caffeine for ginseng tea. “It gives me an extra boost of energy in the day and clears any mental clutter. There’s something that feels very zen and cathartic when drinking tea, so I find it benefits at all times. Ginseng is hard to find in some countries – some alternatives are Hōjicha or roasted barley tea.”

Aromatherapy

Essential oils are another natural way to treat jet lag, whether you use them during a flight or upon reaching your destination. Lemongrass and peppermint are great for balance and focus, while lavender is commonly used to soothe before bedtime. “I turn to essential oils when travelling and I usually carry some with me,” says Emirates flight attendant Alex Pedro. “There’s also a brilliant Oud Renewal treatment at the new Abu Dhabi Edition that uses the rare Arabian oil to relax and rejuvenate.”

Get Some Sun

The brain takes cues from natural light. An easy way to help regulate your body clock is to step outside and let nature do the work. Leaving the sunglasses back at the hotel will ensure all sensors fully take in the light exposure. Rémi Clermont, who runs cycling apparel business Café du Cycliste, gets his sunshine, workout and sightseeing done all at the same time while peddling around his new environs. “A blissful cycle through a town or landscape works for me; both the exercise and the sun exposure help regulate circadian rhythm and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted any time at all in the process.”