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How cruise crew avoid jet lag

Want to make the most of every minute of your upcoming trip? Here, we asked Princess Cruises crew members and a handful of health experts to share their tips on beating the dreaded jet lag. These are their secrets…

By Sophie Goddard

Heading off on exciting adventures abroad might sound like a lot of fun but the only downside? Jet lag threatening to stop play. Here, we asked some of the Princess Cruises crew, along with Bupa UK’s* Dr Sarah White and Sleep Consultant* Maryanne Taylor to help us out…

Get on your new time zone, ASAP

“Getting on my new time zone as soon as possible really helps, rather than prolonging the inevitable,” says Captain Michele Tuvo. “As tired as I might be at 4pm in a new place, I make certain to stay awake until the evening, going to bed at a ‘proper’ time.” Bupa UK’s Dr White agrees. “If your trip only involves staying in a different time zone for a couple of days, don’t worry – your body is unlikely to adjust in such a short period. But if your trip is longer, it’s important to get onto your new time zone as soon as you can.”

Stick to simple foods

“As much as all the wonderful, rich food sounds fantastic when first stepping on board, keeping my diet simple is a good choice for me,” says Captain Tuvo. “That might be a fresh salad, or one of the ship’s homemade soups with some protein. I find it helps keep my energy levels up – heavy meals leave me feeling sluggish.” Another crew member who follows this rule is Shore Excursion Manager, Tiago Ferreira. “I always suggest light food – things like salads, fruits, fish and white meat – and I avoid alcohol. Coffee can be useful when needed, too!”

Plan ahead

Thinking ahead a little can be useful, says Dr White. “When people are heading eastbound to destinations such as Asia and Australasia I suggest waking up and going to bed a couple of hours before their usual time, a couple of days ahead of travelling,” she explains. “If your destination is westbound like the Americas or the Caribbean it could be worth waking up and going to bed a couple of hours after your usual time, instead.”

Sweat it out

Feeling jaded? A brisk walk or gentle jog could be the answer, says Dr White. “If you feel yourself flagging after arriving at your destination, get outdoors to start getting accustomed to the local routine, whether it’s dark or light. If possible, try and do some exercise too – it can help you get over any jet lag you may be feeling. Exercising in the day could prove to be a win for your body clock too; it has the potential to make you feel generally better, and exposure to natural light can further your body clock’s adjustment.”

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Rest beforehand

The run-up to a holiday can be frantic, but it’s worth trying to sneak in some rest in beforehand. “It can take a few days to adapt to a new time zone, but getting as much sleep as possible leading up to the trip is a smart idea,” says The Sleep Works’ Maryanne Taylor. Tiago Ferreira agrees. “As a crew member we are normally exposed to jet lag three or four times a year. What I find really helps is sleeping the max amount of time the day before I travel. After arriving at my destination, I aim to stay awake until a normal time, having a maximum of eight hours’ sleep. It seems to work for me!”

Resist the urge to nap

Eyes just won’t stay open? If you really can’t stay awake, Dr White recommends a nap – but only a short one. “Take a short nap but only if you need to – a twenty-minute burst can help you feel refreshed, but anything longer could make you feel worse, especially at the wrong time of day. When you do sleep, I’d recommend using earplugs and eye-masks. They can be really handy helping establish a routine, both when travelling and when you arrive at your destination.”

Be kind to yourself

“Let's face it, the most important thing to do on a cruise is to relax, so even if you’re feeling a little jet lagged from travel, try not to worry,” says Captain Truvo. “Kick back and allow our incredible team to take care of you and enjoy yourself. I also recommend a lovely stroll on the open deck when possible, you’ll find the sea air really refreshing.” Don’t forget to stay hydrated, either, adds Dr White. “Where possible, stretch your legs every few hours, and since excessive alcohol and caffeine intake can disrupt your sleep, be sure to keep up your water intake, too!”

*Editorial opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Princess Cruises, nor does Princess Cruises recommend or guarantee any third party products mentioned in this princessjourney.co.uk. Errors and omissions are in no way the responsibility of Princess Cruises.

About the Author

Sophie Goddard

Sophie Goddard

Sophie is a freelance journalist who has worked at magazines including Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Grazia, writing about everything from health to pop culture and travel. Next on Sophie's travel hit-list is Dominica, where she plans on enjoying a spot of horseback riding and whale-watching, as well as testing out plenty of local rum!

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