Flying to Perth last week reminded me the toll that flying can take on our bodies both physically and mentally. Studies have found that people often underestimate the impacts of flying with a 20% decrease in physical and mental performance. 

So how do you minimise the impacts of flying? Well you can follow the usual sleep on the plane, do your foot circles, limit alcohol and caffeine. But I decided to refer to some proper scientific studies, including the godfathers of flying NASA. 

Here are 3 factors on why jet setting can hit us so hard and how to overcome them 

Disrupted Circadian Rhythms 

Our circadian rhythms are our 24 hour sleep wake cycle that is based on the light and dark of the environment, when we travel we spin this cycle out of whack. Dr Clifford Saper of Harvard University says our bodies have 2 main ways that this is reset, light and food. Exposure to natural sunlight when you arrive at destination will make your body realise that it is daytime, try to spend as much as much time as you can. Also consider your exposures to artificial light, using eye masks can help to block out unnatural light while flying. The other way to reset your circadian rhythm is through your digestive system. Once you work out the time at your destination aim to fast during the night hours and eat during the daylight hours. 

Decreased Humidity  

The humidity on aeroplanes is set at 20%, compared to the natural 40-70% on the ground. This cool dry environment means you don’t feel your body losing fluid and can increase risk of dehydration. On average you should be drinking 300mL of water for every 10kg of body weight a day, if you weigh 70kgs that’s around 2 litres of water. Rather than feeling like you have to deprive yourself of alcohol and caffeine, really focus on consuming as much water as possible throughout the flight. This will also help with limiting your sitting, with frequent bathroom visits. 

Decreased air pressure and prolonged sitting 

The low cabin pressure combined with prolonged sitting makes your blood flow stagnate, hence the increased risk of conditions such as Deep Vein Thrombosis. While on the plane you can combat this by walking to the furthest toilet from you and while you are there do 10-15 squats. This will help get some fresh blood pumping around your body and help you feel fresher once you reach your destination.