What the doctor says
‘Jet lag is a disorder that usually causes insomnia and fatigue as a result of air travel across several time zones,’ says Dr Ivica Djupovac, GP at Al Das Medical Clnic on Palm Jumeirah. As well sleep disruption, other symptoms can include nausea, sweating, dehydration, headaches, dizziness, constipation and diarrhea.
‘The condition of passengers before a flight is very important,’ says Dr Djupovac. ‘A traveller who is tired, excited, stressed, anxious or drowsy before the flight is more likely to develop jet lag. Therefore, the basic rule is to get a good night’s sleep the night before flight,’ she says. Likewise, if you arrive during daylight, try and get some fresh air. ‘Travellers who spend more time outdoors after travelling adapt faster than those who stay indoors, which is likely due to exposure to natural light and its effect on the brain,’ she says,
Doing mental arithmetic is undesirable at the best of times, especially if you’ve just landed in a foreign country and you’re so tired you can’t feel your face. Thankfully, British Airways – with the help of one of the UK’s leading sleep experts, Dr Chris Idzikowski – has come to the rescue with its handy Jet Lag Calculator. Just enter a few details – your normal wake-up time, and the time at your point of origin and destination – and it will tell you what times to seek and avoid light. According to the calculator, ‘Light is one of the primary cues the body clock uses to maintain its link to the outside world.’
Try it at www.britishairways.com.
Technology to the rescue
If you fancy looking like a reject from an X-Men film, look no further than the Re-Timer, a pair of high-tech anti-insomnia glasses. The new technology, developed at Flinders University in Australia, promises to rid the worst sufferers of any form of jet lag. The shades direct a soft, green glow towards your eyes that adjusts sleep patterns by deceiving the eye’s photoreceptors. They should be worn for 50 minutes after waking to advance the body clock (helping you fall asleep and wake up earlier) or 50 minutes before going to bed to delay your body clock (waking up later). Its inventor, Professor Leon Lack, claims that his new invention has the potential to not only aid travellers in their fight against jet lag, but also help shift-workers regulate their sleep and even help wake up drowsy teenagers in the morning.
Dhs930, available from www.re-timer.com.
Getting to sleep has well and truly been covered, but what about those times when you need to stay upright? Managing director of Nail Point, Alia Sheikh, recommends using essential oils. ‘Aromatherapy oils including those containing grapefruit, cardamom and rosemary are stimulating, and help to keep you alert and refreshed if you need to stay awake on a flight. Dab them on your temples and feet,’ she says. On the other hand, Sheikh suggests lavender or mandarin to help aid relaxation. ‘Most herbal remedies are available as teas or standardised tablets in many health shops,’ she says.
According to Susan Yardley, assistant director of Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont The Palm, the most beneficial way to get your body back on track after a long haul is through detailed attention and massage. ‘Swelling and puffiness in the legs and ankles is the most common concern from even the most frequent of travellers,’ says Yardley. ‘Hot Stones (Dhs475 for an hour) is a great treatment for bringing balance back to the body and mind. Often when you’re jet lagged you might feel awake but your body needs rest, or maybe your body is raring to go but your mind can’t focus. This treatment can help bring you back into sync,’ she says. Meanwhile, Sheikh recommends the aromatherapy full-body massage (Dhs300 for an hour) at Nail Point, which uses relaxing lemongrass oil and helps stimulate the lymphatic system, ridding the body of waste, tension and puffy ankles and eyes. Alternatively, founder of De La Mer Day Spa, Sara Pirzad, recommends the Thai Herbal Pouch massage for jet-lagged clients to help increase blood circulation. ‘Travelling can cause the muscles in the body to get stiff. ‘Our Voya organic foot and leg ritual treatment is excellent as well as it helps to aid in any ankle swelling. We use fresh warm seaweed leaves and wrap them around the legs to help soften tired feet,’ says Pirzad.
If you’re on a tight budget, try a DIY therapy instead: ‘Brush your body with a loofah on dry skin for five minutes before getting into the bath,’ says Sheikh. ‘Use long, sweeping movements, brushing towards your heart. This will stimulate your lymphatic system,’ she says. ‘Start with the soles of the feet and make your way upward. Don’t forget the backs of your hands and your armpits and stomach. Brush your skin until it feels warm, but don’t overdo it,’ she says.
Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont The Palm (04 457 3388). Nail Point, Dubai Marina (04 430 8705). De La Mer Day Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 2 (04 328 2775).