What is jet lag?
Jet lag is a condition with both psychological and physiological symptoms, and occurs when you travel across time zones. If you’re flying east, you’re more likely to suffer from jet lag than if you were heading west across the same number of time zones. Unfortunately, the older you get, the condition hits you harder and it takes a longer time to recover.
What causes jet lag?
Air travel over long distances disrupts our circadian rhythm, which is the biological clock controlling our sleep and awake patterns. This means appetite, digestion, bowel habits, body temperature, blood pressure and urine production are affected.
Your body clock is tuned to your local time and dictated by light and daily routine, i.e. active during the day, asleep at night. By crossing time zones, your body clock needs time to readjust to a new routine at the destination.
Another reason is that the oxygen in blood decreases due to air pressure when flying, causing fatigue. As movement is restricted in a plane, your circadian rhythm doesn’t re-synchronise accordingly.
How to deal with jet lag
Jet lag lasts can last a couple of day or even up to a week. Follow these tips to help reduce the effects:
- Follow your new schedule before you leave
If you’re traveling east, go to bed half an hour earlier for a few nights before leaving. If you’re going west, do the opposite. Change your mealtimes closer to the time you would be having them at your destination.
- Adapt to your new schedule while on the flight
Try this psychological trick – adjust the time on your watch to your destination’s time when you get on the plane. This will help you get used to the new times before you land.
- Get moving
Try to move around and do static exercises on the flight. When you arrive, avoid heavy exercise as this can delay sleep.
- Spend time outdoors
Exposure to natural light is one of the best ways to alleviate jet lag symptoms, so spend some time outside after landing.
- Stay hydrated
Drink lots of fluids, preferably water, and limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol.
- Relax before bedtime
Take a hot bath, read a book or any other relaxing activity to induce sleep.
- Reduce distractions
Minimise the factors that affect your sleep like screen time and loud noise.
This article has been republished with permission from Hello Doktor.