Jet lag is a combination of fatigue and other symptoms caused by travelling across different time zones. Symptoms that can occur due to jet lag are: fatigue, sleepiness, digestive upsets, impaired judgement, memory lapses and irritability. The body is synchronized to night and day by the action of sunlight through brain chemicals or neurotransmitters, especially melatonin. Many bodily processes are timed on this 24-hour physiological ‘clock’. These include temperature, hormones, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and brain states. This changing rate of activity over each 24-hour period is called the circadian rhythm. Travelling to a different time zone disrupts the circadian rhythm.
The is no cure to jet lag, although symptoms can be helped by doing the following things, all of which are without any medical drugs.
Before the flight:
- Leave home well rested – Try and put your farewell party a few days before your trip. If you leave extremely sleep deprived, you will be walking like a zombie after flight delays, customs and midnight flights.
During the flight:
- Reset – Reset your clock to the time zone you are travelling to as soon as you take off. If you are arriving in the morning try to sleep for the last 8 hours of your flight, although if you are arriving at night try to have slept near the beginning of your flight
- Stay Hydrated – Drink lots of water before, during, and after your flight to avoid dehydration. Try and avoid alcohol or caffeine a few hours before you plan to sleep as they can disrupt your sleep and may cause dehydration.
- Sleep– If you can’t sleep easily on a plane, try using ear plugs, pillows and a eye mask to minimize distractions and increase your comfort on a plane. Either that or turn on a really boring movie and you will be asleep in seconds.
After the flight:
- Have a busy first day – Try and keep the first day of when you arrive super busy. There is more of a chance of you falling asleep if you stay in your hotel close to a comfy bed rather than taking in the beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Caffeine – Even if you are using twigs to keep your eyes open, five cups of coffee is not the answer. Coffee will make you dehydrated which can make your jet lag worse. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t drink coffee, just try and drink your coffee in moderation. Although statistics do show that apples will make you more awake than coffee.
- Here comes the sun! – Exposure to daylight will help reset your body clock, as brain chemicals or neurotransmitters, especially melatonin are influenced through sunlight