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Minimising Jet Lag Requires Weeks of Preparation, Says Study

Posted Monday 19 August 2019 09:16 by in Jet Lag by Tim Deakin

Research from the University of Sydney suggests that we are waiting too long to prepare for jet lag

Scientists from the University of Sydney conducted a study into the effects of jet lag, looking at what can be done to lessen the impact of the condition.

The research, which began in early 2018, focused on non-pharmacological ways to counter jet lag. They concluded that, without medication, effectively avoiding jet lag can require weeks of preparation.[1]

Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, says that planning is where most travellers fall short. We need to start altering our body clocks for days or even weeks before boarding the flight.

“The way you feel, the way you function – mentally through to bowel movements – is all ultimately controlled by your body clock,” said Simpson.

“What you can do is make sure you’re pushing as quickly as you can to the destination time zone and getting the timing of things right.”[2]

However, public health researcher Dr Sun Bin notes that other factors are equally as important as planning when it comes to jet lag, such as light, alcohol and hydration.

“Basically, jet lag is a mismatch between your body clock and the time at your destination.”[3]

What is jet lag?

Jet lag occurs when your usual sleep routine is disturbed after a long flight. You may feel extremely tired during the day, or wide awake in the middle of the night, or both. Symptoms can last for several days as your body gets used to its new time zone.[4]

Common symptoms of jet lag can include:

Difficulty getting to sleep at night and waking up in the morning

Finding it hard to stay awake throughout the day

Severe tiredness and exhaustion

Difficulty concentrating

Poor memory

Low sleep quality[5]

How do you minimise jet lag?

Beginning your preparations early is an important part of lessening the effects of jet lag. By altering your sleep schedule by 15 minutes or so every day for a few weeks before travelling, you can shift seamlessly into a new time zone.

But there are other factors involved in the regulation of your circadian rhythm. These include eating according to the meal times of your destination, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, staying hydrated and getting plenty of natural light exposure the morning after arriving at your destination.[6]

Your destination can also play a part in the severity of your jet lag. Of course, the further you travel the greater the time difference, and therefore the greater the jet lag. But research has also found the travelling from west to east results in worse jet lag than travelling east to west.[7]

Medication can help to reduce the impact of jet lag

Medication like Circadin can be used to regain control of your sleep-wake cycle by regulating your body’s release of melatonin — your natural sleep hormone.

The effectiveness of Circadin has been shown through rigorous testing, revealing its usefulness in improving sleep quality and helping patients sleep normally when compared to a placebo drug.[8]

Circadin is an effective way to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and is available from Express Pharmacy. Click here to discover more or get in touch with one of our expert pharmacists today. Call 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Bin, YS., Postnova, S., Cistulli, PA. What works for jetlag? A systematic review of non-pharmacological interventions. Sleep Med Rev. 2018.

[2] Attard, M., Extel CV. Long flight ahead? Prepare weeks in advance to avoid jet lag, scientists say. ABC News. 2018.

[3] Bin et al. 2018.

[4] NHS UK. Jet lag. 2017.

[5] National Sleep Foundation. Jet Lag and Sleep. 2018.

[6] Kalia, A. Five ways to minimise jet lag. The Guardian. 2019.

[7] Klein, J. Why Jet Lag Can Feel Worse When You Travel From West to East. The New York Times. 2016

[8] European Medicines Agency. Circadin. 2007.


Does Changing the Time You Eat Stop Jet Lag?

Posted Friday 21 June 2019 12:47 by in Jet Lag by Tim Deakin

Travelling opens you up to fantastic experiences, but one side-effect of far-flung jet-setting which isn’t so fantastic is jet lag.

Jet lag is the result of a disruption to an individual’s natural sleep pattern – typically caused by crossing several time zones on a long flight. The symptoms of jet lag usually continue until the body has adjusted to a new time zone – more often than not over the course of a few days.[1] These symptoms of jet lag usually include disorientation and finding it hard to function, fatigue and being unable to fall asleep.[2]

This is something many of us have experienced. In fact, one poll of 2,000 adults found that more than eight in 10 participants had struggled with severe fatigue after a long-haul flight.[3]

But there are also other contributing factors that have a part to play in determining the severity of your jet lag, as highlighted by recent research.

Research by the University of Surrey explored the link between jet lag and eating times

A study from the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey has looked into any possible connection between mealtimes and the likelihood of experiencing jet lag after travelling. In the study, 60 long-haul crew members were divided into two groups.

The first set of participants followed a regular meal plan on their days off following a long flight, while the second group had no plan for regular meals. The results found that sticking to a regular mealtime schedule played a significant role in helping the crew members adapt their circadian rhythms during their days off.[4]

Author of the study, Dr Cristina Ruscitto, discussed these results further, saying:

“Many crew tend to rely on sleep rather than earing strategies to alleviate symptoms of jet lag, but this study has shown the crucial role meal times can indeed play in resetting the body clock.”[5]

How to deal with jet lag effectively

Mealtimes aren’t the only outside factors to play a role in either worsening or lessening the impact of changing time-zones. The direction of travel, natural light levels, caffeine intake and alcohol all have a part to play in determining just how severe your experience of jet lag will be.[6]

Jet lag can be worsened by factors like stress, discomfort and air pressure. All of these factors can occur while flying, meaning that moving time zones via a plane can lead to a significant risk of jet lag.[7]

Medication is one of the main ways to effectively combat jet lag while travelling. A poll by NSF found that 15% of respondents used either a prescription medication and/or over the counter sleep aids. These were found to be an effective way to manage the short-term insomnia brought on by travel.[8]

Treatment such as Circadin can help to regulate your body’s production of melatonin – our natural sleep hormone. This will help you feel more tired when night falls, aiding your body clock in its adjustment.

You can find safe and effective treatment for jet lag here at Express Pharmacy, such as Circadin. And if you have any questions for our pharmacists, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Jet lag. 2017

[2] British Airways. Jet lag advisor. 2019

[3] Elsworthy, E. How to avoid jet lag before, during and after a flight. The Independent. 2018

[4] La, P. Jet-lag is given the swerve by adjusting meal times on the ground, find researchers. University of Surrey. 2016

[5] Ruscitto, C. PhD. accessed via La, P. 2006

[6] American Sleep Association. Jet lag treatment, recovery and symptoms. 2019

[7] Sleep Education. Jet Lag – Overview. 2019

[8] NSF. Sleep in America Poll. 2002., accessed via: National Sleep Foundation. Jet lag and sleep. 2012


6 Common Mistakes We Make When Trying to Beat Jet Lag

Posted Friday 25 May 2018 12:10 by in Jet Lag by Tim Deakin

If you’re setting off for the summer in the next couple of months, here are the common mistakes you shouldn’t make when trying to avoid the dreaded jet lag.

Sticking to your normal sleeping pattern in the weeks leading up to your flight

Even if your normal sleeping pattern is a healthy 8 hours of ‘early to bed, early to rise’, it’s still a good idea to start modifying it at least a week or two before you travel. Part of the problem with jet lag is that you essentially shock your body into an entirely new routine without warning. Building up a new sleeping pattern gradually – by going to bed a little earlier or later each night in accordance with your destination’s time difference – can help ease you into a new time zone. That way, by the time you reach your destination, your circadian rhythm already has a head start.

Relying on caffeine and alcohol when flying

When we fly, many of us fall into the trap of enjoying a tipple or two to help us sleep, or a strong coffee to keep us alert. But neither of these are good options when it comes to avoiding jet lag. No matter how much better they make you feel in the short term, coffee and alcohol are both dehydrating, and this is a common factor in many cases of jet lag. Symptoms like headaches and fatigue are worsened as a result.

Thinking any seat will do on your flight

If you’re heading off on a long-haul flight, bear in mind that not all seating is created equal. Remaining stagnant throughout a long flight is a significant factor in many cases of jet lag, while stretching and moving regularly have been shown to combat symptoms. With this in mind, the ideal seat should be by the aisle, not the window, and should provide you with plenty of leg room for carrying out simple stretches every 15 minutes.

Forgetting to adjust your watch

The first thing you should do when you sit down on the plane is adjust your watch to fit the time zone of your destination. This simple action forces you to make a conscious note of what time your body should think it is, reminding you to take action to make this the case. From this point on, aim to sleep and eat in accordance with what your watch is saying.

Using comfort foods to keep you going

When we’re tired, we have a tendency to fall back on fatty comfort foods as a source of energy, but this isn’t going to benefit you in the long run. Snacks like chocolate are high in sugar, which will lead to a brief surge in energy and an inevitable crash. Instead, make your first meal upon arrival a protein and nutrient-rich option, allowing you to burn off energy slowly and see you through your first day.

Treating yourself to a nap the minute you arrive at your destination

The very worst thing you can do after a long-haul flight is immediately crawl into bed, unless your new time zone dictates that it’s time to do so. Taking a nap when you arrive means you’ll wake up feeling wide awake in a few hours… just in time to go back to bed.

If you arrive during the day, you must do everything you can to stay awake until night time in order to avoid jet lag. Get out into the sunlight, as this will boost your energy levels, and set your alarm early the next morning so you don’t end up sleeping in.

Another mistake we make? Forgetting that effective medication can help you avoid jet lag. Melatonin – your body’s natural sleep hormone – is available in the medication Circadin, which can regulate your sleep schedule on holiday. Contact Express Pharmacy today on 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.


Planning Your Summer Getaway? Here’s How to Avoid Jet Lag

Posted Thursday 10 May 2018 09:37 by in Jet Lag by Tim Deakin

Planning your summer getaway? Here’s how to avoid jet lag

Nearly 93% of travellers experience jet lag at some point, so here’s how to stop it ruining your holiday

For many of us, the arrival of sunshine immediately inspires us to book that all important summer holiday. It’s hard to resist the draw of a couple of weeks stretched out beneath the blazing sun, but for too many of us jet lag can put a serious dampener on our getaway.

Luckily, it is possible to avoid jet lag and enjoy your holiday from the moment you step off the plane. The first step to beating jet lag is understanding it, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide to answer all your questions.

What is jet lag?

Jet lag occurs when your normal sleep pattern is disturbed after a long flight. Due to a shift in time zones, your body clock — or circadian rhythm — has to adjust to a new schedule, which can lead to sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

Who gets jet lag?

Jet lag can affect anyone travelling across time zones, and the only fluctuations in severity are a result of personal differences. For example, people who stick to rigid routines at home are often worse affected by jet lag than people with more fluid schedules. Young children are also often less affected by changing time zones.

The main factor which determines the extent of jet lag is the distance of travel. The more time zones you travel across, the more severe your jet lag is likely to be. What’s more, travelling west to east usually results in worse jet lag than travelling east to west, reflecting the greater difficulty of advancing your body clock compared to delaying it.

What causes jet lag?

The dominant cause of jet lag is travelling across time zones, which alters your circadian rhythm and makes it difficult to adjust to a new schedule of sleeping and waking. However, other factors which can impact on the severity of your jet lag include:

Your pre-flight condition, particularly tiredness, anxiety, stress or being hungover

High altitude and increased cabin pressure, which can lead to swelling and tiredness

Alcohol consumption, as the impact alcohol has on the body increases two-fold when you’re flying

Dehydration, which can be caused by alcohol but also through lack of water and a reliance on strong coffee

Lack of exercise, which is why passengers should stretch, get up and move regularly throughout their flight

How do you know if you have jet lag?

- The main symptoms of jet lag include:

- Difficulty waking up in the morning and sleeping at night

- Tiredness and exhaustion

- Poor sleep quality

- Finding it hard to stay awake throughout the day

- Lack of concentration

- Memory problems

- Indigestion, constipation and diarrhoea

How do you prevent jet lag?

Symptoms of jet lag usually improve on their own after a few days as your body clock adjusts to its new time zone. However, there are steps you can take to avoid severe jet lag.

Before you travel: make sure you get plenty of rest, following good sleep practices before going to bed. Try changing your routine gradually, going to bed and waking up an hour or two earlier or later than you normally would (in accordance with your new destination). You should also avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and large meals before bed.

During your flight: drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and stay active by stretching and walking regularly. If your flight takes place during normal sleeping hours (in line with your destination) then try to sleep.

After you arrive: change your sleep schedule to fit your new location as quickly as possible, and set an alarm to avoid oversleeping. Go outside during the day, as natural light will help your body clock adjust. Try to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime for your new location without relying on naps to perk you up.

You can also use effective medication to avoid jet lag. Circadin is a prescription medication which acts as a short-term treatment for insomnia. When taken whole one to two hours before bed, Circadin provides melatonin: the body’s natural sleep hormone, making sleep easier. This can help treat symptoms of jet lag.

Contact Express Pharmacy for guidance and treatment for a wide range of health concerns, including jet lag. You can get in touch today using our fast and discreet live chat service, or by calling 0208 123 07 03.

Tags: Circadin Jet Lag Travel Health

Air Travel Tips: Stay Safe & Healthy When Flying

Posted Monday 17 July 2017 16:12 by in Jet Lag by Tim Deakin

Get the most out of your summer holiday by making sure you arrive as happy and healthy as possible

Everybody looks forward to their summer holiday, but few of us are as excited for the plane journey beforehand. Whether you are afraid of flying or just hate cramped, hot conditions, many in-flight experiences leave much to be desired.

Here are a few of our top tips on making international travel as comfortable as possible.

What can you do aboard your flight?

Even the most confident flyer wants to know they’re doing everything they can to stay as safe as possible whilst en route to their holiday destination. Thankfully, there are some simple precautions you can take.

Dress comfortably

Comfort is key when you’re on a plane, especially if you’re on a long haul flight and have restricted movement for hours at a time. Opt for loose, light layers that let your body breathe, and be sure to bring a jumper or cardigan to put on if you feel cold at any point.

Blood clots are one of many people’s biggest fears regarding a long haul flight, so it’s important to prevent restriction on your body where you can, including through your clothing. You may also have seen special compression socks available in airports or travel stores – these are designed to safeguard against deep vein thrombosis and can be a welcome addition to hand luggage.

Listen to the pre-flight briefing

Some people see the safety demonstration at the start of a flight as a chance to switch off, but the information included in this briefing could be life saving if an emergency does occur on your flight.

Be sure to listen carefully to the information being given, paying particular attention to where your nearest exit is and how to put your oxygen mask on correctly.

Get to know your seatbelt

Aeroplane seatbelts are notoriously fiddly, so make sure you’re familiar with the logistics of fastening and unfastening your belt with ease. You should also be paying attention to the seatbelt light above your head, as this will inform you when you need to be in your seat with your seatbelt fastened.

Relax

One of the worst things you can do on a flight is get stressed. Stress increases your levels of cortisol, which boosts your adrenaline and makes you feel restless. This isn’t what you want when you’re spending the next few hours stuck in the same environment. Take your mind off your flight, bring a book or try to sleep, and let your body and your mind relax.

Looking after your health: what is altitude sickness?

One of the biggest risks to your health when flying is altitude sickness, which is exactly as it sounds: feelings of nausea and discomfort when high in the air.

Why do you feel sick when flying?

Altitude sickness is a response to a higher altitude and lower air pressure, which can have a negative effect on the body. This combination means that the air you breathe has less oxygen per breath. It also causes the air to be dryer and water to evaporate faster.

Aside from the obvious sickness, symptoms of altitude sickness can include tiredness, backache, headache, muscle cramp and light-headedness. Certain individuals may be more susceptible to the condition than others, such as people with existing health conditions like heart disease.

What can you do to avoid altitude sickness?

Hydration is key to tackling altitude sickness, as a lack of hydration is a key component of the sickness itself. Drink plenty of water and be sure to avoid caffeine and alcohol.

You should also try to move around aboard your flight when you can. Doing gentle stretches whilst sitting and taking short walks along the aisle can help reduce your risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Finally, you should consider medication to help treat your altitude sickness. Acetazolamide is an effective treatment which reduces the amount of excess fluid in your head and lungs, making it easier to breathe. This medication is available from Express Pharmacy.

Before you set off this summer, make sure you know how to keep you and your family safe when you’re up in the air. For more health queries and concerns, you can contact Express Pharmacy today via our discreet Live Chat tool.