Jet lag is a condition that occurs when our bodies are thrown out of their respective natural rhythms, this process is commonly referred to as the circadian rhythms, and it usually occurs when we are traveling long distances like that of different time zones. It happens because the body is used to a particular schedule, known as the “biological clock,” where it is in effect synchronized to sleeping while it’s dark and awakening once it’s light out. When we are traveling, typically abroad, it can be very disastrous in what should otherwise be an enjoyable vacation, business trip, or another event. So how can we cope with this less than the ideal condition? Read on to learn some strategies for dealing with jet lag.
Jet lag is also commonly referred to as flight fatigue and is referred to as desynchronosis in the medical profession. Regardless of the terminology, the result is the same, either you are exhausted through the day where you arrive, or you are awake at times you would typically be sleeping in your home time zone.
Dealing with jet lag after a long international flight can seem impossible; either you’re going to have to “pull an all-nighter,” or you can try to get sleep, but the issue is that many people have problems with napping once they’ve already woken up for the day, you also don’t want to stay up too long because lack of sleep can be dangerous to your health. It’s ultimately a no-win situation any way you look at it, and this is where many of us turn to alcohol. It does not help that the alcohol is free most of the time, and we may feel the whole jet lag situation will be easier to deal with under the influence of alcohol, resist the temptation and get some rest instead, you’ll be happier and feel better, the last thing you’re going to want is a hangover in a foreign land.
Experts say to stay away from alcohol, it can be extremely welcoming to have a few drinks on your flight, but it turns out that this could do more harm than good concerning jet lag. You’re better off staying away from the alcohol and getting some rest. You’re, after all, going to need the rest to better deal with your jet lag.
So you want to know the obvious, how exactly can you get over jet lag; this is not so straightforward so let’s examine it further.
Be Your Destination to adjust to jet lag fast.
First, if you are traveling East or West, you can (if your schedule allows for it) start by getting into the schedule of your destination. For example, if you are heading east, you can start by adjusting your bedtime to earlier and earlier each day; if going west, then you can simply do the opposite and stay up later each night. This will, in essence, help you adopt the schedule of your destination before you go, and you will find it easier to adjust little by little rather than all at once. This is a great way to change before you travel, but let’s face the music, not all of us have that luxury in our busy lifestyles.
Second, you can always leave a few days earlier for your destination, and in this way, you have those few days to adjust to your new time zone easier. This can be especially valuable if you are going to an event or business meeting, whereas you must be functioning at your best.
Third, a strictly psychological method to adjust to your destination would be to change the time on your watch as soon as you depart, so in this way, psychologically, you are prepared for the new time zone.
Melatonin and sleeping pills can help fight jet lag.
Fourth, you could take a hormonal supplement of melatonin, which may help your body adjust. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the body, usually in the late afternoon and evening, and it’s what makes you feel drowsy and otherwise tired towards your usual bedtime. So you can take a supplement during the late afternoon time of your destination, and you could also take a sleeping pill along with melatonin to have the most significant effect and hopefully get some rest that will help you adjust and ultimately cope better with the jet lag.
Fifth, keep adequately hydrated. This is partly why alcohol could be a terrible choice, you are going to want to stay hydrated, and alcohol makes you dehydrated. Keeping hydrated is essential because otherwise, you may have issues with an upset stomach, and bowel movements may be impeded. You are already throwing off your body’s natural processes by altering its biological clock, and traveling can make it hard to fit in proper bowel movements, so keep hydrated to minimize the effects.
Natural light helps regulate sleeping patterns.
Sixth, sunlight is a major player in regulating circadian rhythms, so you can essentially fool your body into your new sleeping schedule in the following ways: If going eastward, try to avoid bright early morning light until late afternoon and early evening. Were you going westward? Do the opposite and try to get that bright early morning light earlier in the day when you arrive and avoid it during the late afternoon. Again, this can help shift your body into the new schedule at your destination.
You may also want to bring a set of earplugs with you to your destination, and this will help you avoid anything that could potentially disrupt your sleeping pattern at your new location. Some travelers swear by bringing their pillow with them because it allows them to have a less disruptive and restless sleep while adjusting, so consider that if you’d think it would work for you too.
Another tip is to have a nice hot bath before bedtime at your destination. It can help relax your muscles and regulate your body temperature, leading to more sleep. Some people who fly frequently swear that changing their diets before flying can make it easier to adjust to jet lag. Many will fast the day they travel, while others stick to a high-calorie diet depending on the direction of travel.
More Tips for a better night sleep when you reach your destination:
Tip 1: Moderate exercise before sleep
Stress is one of the primary triggers of sleep problems. To relieve some pressure after a hard day at work, moderate exercise in the evening can help. For example, a short walk in the evening is recommended, during which you can consciously let your thoughts dangle a little. Intense sport at a late hour, on the other hand, is counterproductive. This raises the stress hormone level, and the metabolism runs at full speed. Therefore, any evening workout should be finished at least 3 hours before going to bed.
Tip 2: Relaxing bath
A warm, full bath has a calming effect on the nerves and helps against insomnia. The water temperature should be 36 to 37 degrees, and the bath should last about 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you could have a warm foot bath, which relaxes you as well. Then, you could start a diary and write down important points for those who don’t have a clear head late at night. That way, you can put those problems to rest, at least for the following night. In addition, yoga, massages, muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, meditation, Tai Chi, or acupuncture are good relaxation aids.
Tip 3: Evening rituals
Also suitable are rituals that act as timers, so to speak, help us enter the relaxation phase more quickly and are very significant for the functioning of our inner clock. An evening walk, a relaxing bath, a light novel, or even a 1/2 hour of relaxation music can help relax you enough to sleep. Try to always go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even on weekends. It is also highly recommended to consciously arrange your schedule to leave room for relaxation, friends, family, and hobbies.
Tip 4: Less computer and cell phone time in the evening
Insomnia has become a real epidemic – almost 40% of Americans suffer from it. One reason for this is the Internet and cell phones. The digitized world catapults people into a constant “standby situation.” We are constantly on our toes, living in a continual state of tension that is admittedly not immediately relieved when we go to bed.
Excessive TV, computers, and smartphones already cost children and adolescents at least one month’s sleep per year; about 23% of children sleep poorly. Especially in the evening, people should stop pushing computer activity, because it excites and prevents relaxation. It is also evident that screens, especially those with a high blue light content, may suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and other endogenous signals of the internal clock while activating stress hormones. Therefore, anyone who frequently struggles with sleep problems should also think about banning computers, televisions, and, above all, smartphones from the bedroom.