People who travel will sooner or later have to deal with the unpleasant experience of jet lag. If you travel a lot you can train your body to get used to it, but eventually it will catch up to you. So while jet lag seems unavoidable, there are some things you can do to minimize it’s impact on your physical and mental condition when traveling.
Simply put, “jet lag” means your your body is disoriented, often as a result of crossing time zones which affects your internal clock. Some of the common symptoms of jet lag are inability to sleep at night, loss of motivation, tiredness, inability to concentrate, and headaches.
Surprisingly, experts say the severity of a jet lag is dependent on the direction of the travel: when people travel westward the symptoms are generally less severe than when they travel eastward. This is because the body rhythm is extended up to 27 hours when you fly westward. This so-called “circadian rhythm” can be greater than 24 hours when a person travels for enough westward: the change in timezones adds bonus hours to your day, giving your body more time to adjust.
In reality, there are no quick fixes to “cure” the signs of jet lags. However, there are ways to deal with it so you minimize the impacts and get adjusted to your new environment faster:
- Stay outside during the day. Your body clock will be able to adjust at a faster rate if it becomes accustomed to your new surroundings. Natural light will speed up that process.
- Adjust your bedtime schedule to the new timezone as early as possible, so your body won’t be as affected by the changes in time zone after arrival.
- Start eating, sleeping, and doing your usual activities based on the local time setting of your destination and not based on the usual time back home. I usually change my watch to the new timezone when the airplane door closes on departure. It’ll “trick” your brain into getting into the new pattern faster.
- If you’re attending a business meeting, wedding or other important event at your destination plan for this accordingly and give yourself time to adjust and get accustomed to the new environment.
When dealt with and planned for appropriately, jet lags don’t have to be much of a problem. It is a matter of adjustment and dealing with the symptoms.
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If you have any more jet lag tips please feel free to share them in the comments below.