When we travel, whether it’s for business, vacation, or athletic competitions, a big trip usually means excitement. Unfortunately, the travel process can cause some inconveniences. Jet lag is often associated with long air travel.
This phenomenon is often associated with international flights, but can occur on any flight that flies from east to west and crosses three or more time zones. Jet lag is a regular cause of sleep disruption, which can throw your body’s internal clock out of sync with the day/night cycle of your travel destination.
Knowing ways to avoid jet lag and recover from its effects can help maintain your sleep pattern and overall well-being during your trip so you can get the most out of it.
Flying east or west makes a difference in jet lag.
The confusion of your circadian rhythm (biological clock) is reduced as you travel west. Indeed, a trip west “extends” the normal day-night cycle of the biological clock (the usual bias of the biological clock is slightly longer than 24 hours for most of us). On the other hand, traveling east is in direct contradiction to the biological clock. If you’re prone to jet lag, it may be worth considering a trip out west if possible.
Measures to reduce the effects of jet lag.
There is no evidence that popular techniques like fasting or complicated diets are effective.
Here are some suggestions to lessen the impact of jet lag when travelling:
Make sure you get enough sleep before you go. A sleep deficit or “debt” increases jet lag. When traveling west, try to get to bed as late as possible two or three days before departure. This will make it easier to adjust to the new place.
During the flight :
Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Drink a lot of water. Try to take a nap when you feel sleepy. Eat small, frequent meals and choose light foods such as fruits and vegetables. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Walk around the cabin whenever possible. If you sleep on a plane, try to plan your sleep as if it were at your destination. Wear earplugs. Wear an eye mask. Maximize your comfort with a pillow that supports your neck and head.
Adaptation to time zone changes.
In the event of jet lag, the traveler’s body clock is not synchronized to the new time zone and continues to run based on local time. Different bodily mechanisms adapt to the new time zone at different rates, adding to the confusion. Depending on the individual, the body needs a few days to a few weeks to synchronize to the new time zone.
Sleep and the new time zone.
Here are some suggestions for adjusting to your new time zone:
Exposure to daylight or, if that is not possible, bright light to “reset” your biological clock. The stimulus that sets the clock back is light entering the eyes, specifically the blue light spectrum. Drink caffeinated beverages in moderation throughout the day. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages a few hours before bedtime. Try to mimic your usual bedtime. Use methods that help you relax.
Alcohol, drugs and jet lag.
The use of medication is controversial and should be discussed with your doctor. There have been reports of some beneficial effects from melatonin, or very short-acting tranquilizers. Melatonin use has been shown to help some people adjust more quickly to changes in time zones.
In an emergency, it is not recommended to take sleeping pills during the flight. Some travelers use alcohol to help them fall asleep, but it disrupts the normal sleep cycle and can prolong jet lag.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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