Medical Q&As

World cup - jet lag?

I am 54 years old and will be travelling to the World Cup in Japan in May. I would appreciate some tips on avoiding jet lag.

There is some evidence that flying westwards causes less jet lag than flying eastwards so it is quite likely that several Irish supporters will be jet lagged by the time they get to Japan. It is a good idea to have a good nightís sleep the night before departure and also try to ensure that you are not suffering from hangover before you fly. I donít wish to sound like a killjoy but do be careful not to over-indulge in alcohol on the flight to Japan. Over-indulgence will ensure that you will have a hangover when you arrive and this can significantly add to jet lag symptoms. Alcohol can have a more potent effect on your system when it is consumed at 35,000 feet. Make sure that you drink plenty of water on the flight because the air in an aircraft cabin is considerably drier than the normal air we breathe. It is a good idea to bring a bottle of water on the plane with you because you may not have access to sufficient amounts of water while travelling on the plane. Dehydration makes jet lag worse. Lack of exercise is one of the worst aspects of long-haul flying because it makes the flight uncomfortable and sets you up for a longer period of jet lag afterwards. Do stretching exercises in your seat, especially for the legs, and if possible go for walks up and down the aisle. Apart from jet lag you should also consider the well-publicised risk of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), which is associated with long haul flights. It is worth taking an aspirin tablet before you fly in order to prevent DVT, assuming that you donít have any medical contraindications to doing so. It is also a good idea to get some sleep on the plane particularly if you are flying from Europe on an evening flight, which means effectively that you will have lost a nightís sleep in bed. Earplugs, blindfolds, and inflatable pillows are all useful in helping you get quality sleep while flying. Itís probably not a good idea to take a sleeping pill on the flight because very little movement of the body takes place during drug-induced sleep, which again is probably not desirable because of the aforementioned DVT risk. If you feel the need to take a nap when you arrive at your eventual destination do so but donít sleep too long. Also pace yourself on your first day because too hectic a start on your trip can prolong the degree of jet lag. Try to get to bed at a reasonable time at the end of your first day in Japan.