Jet lag is a state in which the person’s internal clock doesn’t coordinate with the environment. It is also known as circadian rhythm. Human body sleeps and eats according to its routine and time zone. During traveling by crossing the time zones, the alignment between your internal clock and the new environment becomes disrupted and the body gets confused how to respond to this change? Which may lead to irritability, nausea, headaches, and an upset stomach as well as undesirable experiences on your vacation.
Human body experiences fluctuations in temperature, blood pressure, glucose, and hormone levels throughout a 24-hour cycle. These variations are regulated by your internal clock, which is influenced by the light entering your eyes. The pace of your internal clock can be affected by the duration and timing of exposure to light and darkness.
Common symptoms of jet lag include:
Sleep problems — like struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep through until morning
Loss of concentration
Appetite loss and feeling hungry at odd times
Low mood and irritability
Poor performance — mentally and physically both
The symptoms may vary on the factors such as the number of time zones crossed, age, and Chrono type.
Jet lag duration and severity vary based on travel direction and individual sensitivity to time changes. For those heading east, falling asleep at night becomes challenging, and adjustment takes longer. Typically, the number of days experiencing jet lag equals the crossed time zones, meaning a three-time zone shift eastward results in approximately three days of jet lag.
Conversely, westward travelers may wake up earlier than desired, but adaptation occurs more swiftly. In this case, the duration of jet lag is around two-thirds the number of crossed time zones. For instance, crossing three time zones to the west leads to an estimated two days of jet lag.
However, to lessen these effects, here are useful tips to overcome jet lag and seamlessly adjust your internal clock while on the move.
In the days leading up to your journey, align your sleep routine with the time zone of your destination. For eastward travel, set an aim to sleep earlier, while for westward trips, consider going to bed later. This gradual adjustment aids your body in adjusting to the new time zone prior to your departure.
Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in the brain, regulates nighttime behaviors like sleep and is released in darkness. To optimize its effectiveness for jet lag, take a low dose (0.5 mg) 13 hours before your desired wake-up time. Higher doses won’t enhance sleep onset and might lead to issues. Begin melatonin supplements before your trip, aligning with adjustments in light exposure. Stop melatonin use on your departure day. This approach aids in managing jet lag and promotes a smoother sleep-wake transition
Proper hydration is crucial for tackling jet lag, as dehydration can amplify its impact. Ensure you drink ample water before, during, and after your flight to counter the effects. Steer clear of excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can dehydrate your body and disturb sleep patterns. Opt for water, herbal teas, or natural juices instead. Staying hydration supports overall bodily function and aids in adapting to new environments. Make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water, particularly during your flight. (Note: Don’t forget to take an advice from your physician)
As soon as you reach your destination, sync with the local schedule—stay awake during the day and sleep at night. Adjust your activities, reset your internal clock, and align meals and sleep with the destination’s time zone after boarding the plane.
Expose yourself to natural light during daylight hours in your new location to aid your internal clock adjustment to the local time zone swiftly. Make sure to embrace natural light upon arrival to regulate your body’s internal clock. Go for outdoor activities or sit by a window during daylight hours. When you reach your destination, locate the nearest green space and spend some time there.
Go for lighter meals during and after the flight to avoid feeling sluggish and disrupt your sleep. Choose clean, disciplined eating—no sugar, simple carbs, alcohol, or dairy. Healthy snacks like protein bars, beef jerky and nuts are ideal for travel. Be cautious with airplane food, often carb-heavy and high in low-quality salt. Look for healthy airport options, plan layovers strategically, and adjust your eating schedule to the destination’s time zone for effective jet lag management.
Upon reaching your destination feeling fatigued, resist the urge for a lengthy nap, as it may disrupt your sleep patterns and hinder adjusting to the local time zone. Opt for brief power naps of 20-30 minutes, set an alarm to avoid oversleeping, and strategically schedule these naps, preferably in the early afternoon, to enhance energy levels.
Adjust your well-being while traveling by adopting a healthy lifestyle to minimize the effects of jet lag. Choose nourishing, light meals rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins for sustained energy, steering clear of heavy, greasy options that may induce sluggishness. Incorporate regular exercise like stretching, walking, or light workouts to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and enhance sleep quality.
The app crafts a personalized jet lag plan considering your current location, destination, flight schedule, and regular sleep pattern. It determines optimal times for light exposure and darkness, aiding in adjusting your internal clock and minimizing jet lag effects.
In conclusion, managing jet lag involves a combination of strategic pre-flight preparations and adopting effective in-flight and post-flight strategies. Prioritize adjusting your sleep schedule before departure, stay hydrated, expose yourself to natural light at appropriate times, and consider using sleep aids cautiously. After arrival, gradually adapt to the local time, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and engage in outdoor activities to sync your body clock with the new time zone. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, these measures can significantly mitigate the effects of jet lag and help you adjust more smoothly to your destination.
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