plane how to combat jetlag
Credit: Leonard Holland


If you’ve travelled abroad you’ve experienced it: jetlag.

That groggy feeling that makes your eyes dry, feet heavy and brain foggy. You leave Canada and wake up in Dubai thirteen hours later -for example- feeling disoriented, like a shadow of yourself. Worse yet if you’ve had a layover in Europe.

Suffering from jetlag isn’t just the drag of feeling lousy either. If your stay is time-bound, say a one-week holiday or business trip, the reality is that jetlag takes up time: you’re sleeping when you could be exploring or you’re awake when locals are asleep.


Fun facts about jetlag:

  • Jetlag is a relatively new term. Coined about eight decades ago, it wasn’t until we had the ability to rapidly transit across time zones that we first experienced jetlag.
  • You typically need to cross three or more time zones to feel jetlagged.
  • Travelling westward tends to result in more severe jetlag, but it also depends on your flight departure/arrival, duration and number of layovers.

Since jetlag will be a normal part of any grand adventure, we called on the most glamorous long-haul cabin crew flying the skies – Emirates – to ask how they combat jet lag and keep so damned bright-eyed. Here’s what they told us.  


Tips for Combatting Jetlag

Before you board:

Passengers waiting to board a plane gate luggage line queueLuis Llerena

You should reset your clock – before you leave. Start switching up your schedule a few days in advance: change your bed time and eat your meals as if you’re already abroad.

If you can, pick your meal in advance. Sticking to lighter, healthy options will better aid your chance of sleeping comfortably during your flight. Also, meals with reduced salt mean less water retention.

"Select your seat wisely" Ontario-born Christiana Marzec, an Emirates cabin supervisor, tells us. "Getting comfortable while you fly is an important part of getting the rest you need to avoid jetlag and temperature can play a big role in how relaxed you feel. Window seats tend to be slightly cooler so if you prefer to snuggle up under a blanket in a cool environment, then opt for a seat next to the window. However, if you run cold and often feel chilled on flights, you may want to choose an aisle seat for a little extra warmth."


During the flight:

sleeping woman airplane blanketkasto

Get cozy. You’ll have a better chance of catching some zees in the air which means you’ll have a better chance of hitting the ground running once you arrive. The ideal flight uniform? Slippers or fuzzy socks, an eye mask, ear plugs for total silence, a neck pillow and non-restrictive clothing.

Stretch it out. A few hours before landing, get up, walk around, and stretch out as much as you can.

Watch your alcohol consumption. Marzec explains: "Alcohol can disturb sleep and cause dehydration, both of which worsen the effects of jetlag. To ensure a smooth transition to a new time zone, it’s best to drink in moderation during and after the flight."

Eat fruit and a healthy meal. It will restore your energy levels and fuel your body with much-needed vitamins and minerals.

Perk up. For a boost, drink caffeine towards the end of your flight and refresh your complexion by applying a cold towel to your face.


Once you land:

Get outdoors. When you arrive at your destination, try to spend as much of the day outside as possible. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm, so avoid dark, dim places when you can. Plus, if you stay out of the hotel room, it’s not so tempting to lay down for a nap.


Beauty Tips for Masking Jetlag

woman arrivals bag luggage waiting airportkasto

Why is flying especially dehydrating? In our daily lives we live and breathe humidity levels of 40-70%. By contrast, a plane’s cabin hovers around the 20% mark. Staying hydrated – inside and out - is a passenger’s best defense against tired eyes and dry-looking skin and lips.

Moisturize your face, repeatedly. Marzec explains, "When your skin is dehydrated it tends to overcompensate by producing excess oil, which can result in breakouts. Your best bet to combat this is to apply moisturizing face creams and serums throughout the flight." 

But the Emirates cabin crew has another secret for a fresh face.

"On long-haul flights, the Emirates Cabin Crew swear by hydrating sprays – these refreshing mists can be applied over make up to give skin an instant boost of moisture" Marzec reveals. 

Protect your lips. Lips are often the first part of the face to appear dry when flying. If you love to wear lipstick (like the Emirates crew), exfoliate your lips before applying it. Layering balm or primer beneath your lipstick will even out any cracks.

red lipsrocketclips

Drink water to stay hydrated.  Even if you dread making multiple trips to the washroom, you need to keep hydrated. No surprise here, it’s those low humidity levels that are making you thirsty.

Go light on the makeup. Stick to rosy, peach or pink tones to draw attention away from tired skin and eyes. Dark shades of makeup can unintentionally make you look more tired beneath aircraft lighting.

Ditch the bronzer. Bronzers tend to be thicker than face foundation and finishing powders. That means they can clog your pores if worn for a long time.

Take it easy on the eyes. Apply eyeliner only to the top of your lid, not the bottom. When you’re tired, lining your bottom lid can make dark circles look even darker. 

Avoid waterproof mascara – at all costs. Why? It tends to dry out lashes much faster than regular mascara.


And if all fails, slip on a pair of sunglasses! 


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