How to Beat Jet Lag in 7 Easy Ways

October 15, 2020

Jet lag can ruin a trip across the world. But with some tools and rules, you can beat jet lag and make the most of your trip. Here are 7 of the ways that I beat jet lag.

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Embarking on a journey across time zones can be an exhilarating experience, whether for leisure or business. However, this excitement often comes with an unwelcome companion: jet lag. This physiological condition, characterized by a series of symptoms ranging from sleep disturbances to cognitive impairments, poses a significant challenge for travelers worldwide. Understanding jet lag, its causes, and effective strategies to combat it is crucial for anyone looking to maximize their travel experience and maintain their well-being.

Jet lag arises from disruptions in our circadian rhythms, the internal body clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle, among other bodily functions. This disruption is a direct consequence of rapid long-distance transmeridian travel. As our world becomes increasingly connected and global travel becomes more accessible, understanding and managing the effects of jet lag has never been more important.

The symptoms of jet lag are more than just an inconvenience; they can significantly impact the quality and productivity of your travel. From the difficulty in falling asleep and waking up to a general sense of malaise, these symptoms can be particularly challenging for business travelers, who often need to be at peak performance upon arrival. Leisure travelers, too, find that jet lag can substantially diminish the enjoyment of their vacation.

The severity and experience of jet lag can vary widely based on several factors. These include the number of time zones crossed during travel, the direction of travel, individual health and age, and one’s usual sleep patterns. Typically, traveling east tends to produce more pronounced jet lag symptoms than traveling west, as it’s generally harder for our body clock to advance rather than delay its natural rhythm.

In this article, we delve into the science of jet lag, exploring how our circadian rhythms are affected by cross-time zone travel. We’ll look at the common symptoms of jet lag and how they manifest differently depending on the direction of travel and the number of time zones crossed. Moreover, we’ll provide practical and effective tips for both leisure and business travelers to reduce the impact of jet lag. This will include advice on light exposure, sleep aids, dietary choices, and behavioral changes that can help realign your circadian rhythm with your new environment.

Understanding jet lag is the first step in combating its effects. With the right strategies, travelers can mitigate these symptoms, making their journeys more enjoyable and productive. Let’s embark on this journey to conquer jet lag and transform travel experiences for the better.

What is Jet Lag?

When traveling across time zones, a person’s circadian rhythm (body clock) is tied to their original time zone. This is commonly referred to as “jet lag” though it shouldn’t be blamed on the jet.

If a person flies from the east coast of the United States to France, the time difference is +6 hours, meaning that when it’s noon in New York, it’s already 6 PM in Paris on the same day. Flights from the East Coast of the US fly through the night hoping to help customers overcome the time difference. A flight from New York to Paris might depart at 9 pm and arrive at 10 AM the next day (a 7-hour flight and 6-hour time difference when flying east) but for the New Yorker, it feels like they arrived at (4 AM.)

The New Yorker will be tired when they wake up/land and likely earlier in the day than they should. This of course works the same way in reverse upon a negative time change, which is why New Yorkers travelling to Los Angeles will find themselves up at 4 AM (7 AM in New York) and heading to bed very early by west coast standards (8 pm feels like 11 pm.)

The most challenging time zone adjustments for me are the east coast of the US to Southeast Asia whereby the clock is opposite, noon in New York is midnight of the next day in Bangkok, for example.

The effects of jet lag include general malaize, loss of concentration, and very inconvenient schedules. You’ll want to fall asleep at night in your home time zone. Some can only hope to minimize jet lag so if you’re able, sleep on the plane and utilize bright light when possible.

The Role of Light Exposure

Light exposure plays a significant role in adjusting our circadian rhythms. When traveling east, you’re likely to experience more severe jet lag because it’s harder for your body to advance its clock. To combat this, seek bright light in the morning hours of your new time zone. This light exposure helps reset your body clock to align with local time.

Effective Strategies for Business Travelers

For business travelers, reducing the effects of jet lag is crucial. Simple strategies include adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before your trip, staying hydrated, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, as they can exacerbate jet lag symptoms.

Falling Asleep: The Use of Sleep Aids

Sometimes, falling asleep in a new time zone can be challenging. While sleep aids can be helpful, it’s important to use them cautiously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using them temporarily and in accordance with a healthcare provider’s advice.

The Impact of Crossing Multiple Time Zones

The number of time zones crossed directly affects the severity of jet lag. The more time zones crossed, the worse the jet lag can be. Business travelers often find jet lag including issues like impaired judgment and reduced alertness.

Tips to Reduce Jet Lag

To reduce jet lag, gradually adjust your sleep schedule before your trip. Exposure to bright light at strategic times can also help recalibrate your body clock. Additionally, staying active and eating light meals can aid in quicker adjustment.

Alcohol, Caffeine, and Hydration

Avoiding alcohol and caffeine is crucial in mitigating jet lag. Both can disturb sleep patterns and dehydrate you, worsening the symptoms. Staying hydrated is key to helping your body adjust.

In conclusion, while jet lag is an unavoidable aspect of traveling across time zones, its impact can be significantly reduced. By understanding how our circadian rhythms work and employing strategies like light exposure, sleep schedule adjustment, and mindful consumption of substances like alcohol and caffeine, travelers can mitigate the effects of jet lag. Staying informed and prepared, such as through travel insurance and money-saving tips, can also contribute to a smoother travel experience. Remember, the key to beating jet lag lies in aligning your body clock with your destination’s local time, ensuring a more enjoyable and productive trip.

How to Beat It

There are some quick and easy travel tips to help anyone beat jet lag. Of all of these, number four is the most important to follow.

  1. Adjust your body clock before you leave (including setting your watch.)
  2. Adjust to your new local time zone when you’ve arrived.
  3. Unlimited coffee and caffeinated beverages on the first day.
  4. No naps! Stay awake all day.
  5. Don’t eat the food on the plane.
  6. Stay busy.
  7. Be just as diligent the second day.

If you find yourself struggling the easiest thing to ask yourself is this: According to the time right now where I am right now, should I be awake or asleep? We recommend avoiding sleeping pills as this can cause a break in your circadian rhythm. It’s important to adjust your body clock (internal clock) naturally.

Staying awake is a lot easier than falling asleep when your body wants to be alert. If you’re having trouble sleeping during these times make sure you have fully prepared for bed – change into sleepwear, avoid caffeine, make the room dark, don’t use your phone, consider watching something boring or try reading.

You can do it. We have faith in you.

If you’d like a more personalized approach to your next long-haul flight, contact one of our Concierges today!

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