With just over four weeks to go until schools and Universities break up for Christmas, families up and down the country will be beginning to get excited at the thought of spending time with their loved ones. For many families that may involve making a long haul flight, which is when it gets less exciting, especially when dealing with jet lag. Of course, we should just accept the fact that humans were not designed to travel at great speed across time zones; but human beings what they are, we seem determined to find a cure.
The trouble is, and despite the great numbers of people that are involved in long haul travel, from the passengers to the suppliers, we still don’t seem to have found the definitive cure. Here’s a quick round up of the various treatments that have been suggested. Note that none can be billed as ‘the one cure that works’ and note, also, the sheer variety of so-called cures on offer.
Some people swear by Melatonin tablets and some (notably airline pilots) suggest Triazolam. Like all drugs, these can have side effects or it may simply not be appropriate to take them. Either way, they haven’t emerged as the clear winners.
Food & drink
The entertainer Lulu and actress Dianne Rigg both suggest not eating anything on-board whilst many observers suggest not drinking alcoholic drinks either. The trouble is, for the vast majority of us, Christmas is all about eating lots and drinking, preferably alcoholic drinks, so these suggestions will probably fall on deaf ears we suspect.
It has also been suggested that eating a bowl of ice cream before going to bed might do the trick, as ice cream stimulates the body’s production of tryptophan, which helps us sleep. Good luck with that one if you’re travelling with small children (although we suspect they’d be keen to try it).
Loading up with carb-heavy fry–ups or scoffing big burgers, has also been suggested, although we can’t see Lulu buying into this one. This suggestion apparently came from some Japanese scientists whose research suggested that foods which kick-start a big release of insulin, such as carbohydrates, could be crucial to resetting our body clock when we get out of sync with our natural cycle.
Going to sleep earlier before the flight and going for a walk immediately on landing have both emerged as popular remedies, but not the ‘killer cure’ (so to speak). And the practicalities of going to sleep earlier, immediately before a long haul flight over Christmas is probably only the sort of thing that those who employ domestic staff could consider. For the vast majority of us, we’ll be spending time doing last minute Christmas shopping and finding a holiday home for the family pets.
Another actress, this time Maureen Lipman heard of a remedy that involved putting brown paper inside your socks. As crazy remedies go, we think this one is hard to beat (unless you’re a manufacturer of brown paper in which case it probably seems eminently sensible).
And finally, back in the late 1990s, the BBC ran a story on how jet lag might be reduced by shining a light on the back of your knee. Scientists – this time from Cornell University in New York – suggested that “humans have a circadian rhythm photoreceptor on the backs of their knees”. They clearly haven’t flown long haul in Economy!