How to Avoid Jet Lag

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If you’re planning to travel to far off destinations you will probably experience some jet lag. Feeling sleepy, irritable, and exhausted in the midst of your vacation is no fun and it can seriously cut into your limited holiday time. But no worries! There are many jet lag remedies that people swear by.

What is Jet Lag?

Flying across multiple time zones interferes with the body’s internal clock or, to be more specific, the endogenous circadian clock. The body’s circadian clock “controls the body’s circadian rhythms and the destination time zone and sleep/wake schedule.” While the body slowly adjusts, travelers often experience a wide range of jet lag symptoms, from sleepiness and loss of concentration to depressed moods and gastrointestinal disturbance. People who experience frequent jet lag (flight attendants, politicians, athletes, etc.) can experience long-term health risks as well, such as cognitive deficits.

Innovative Jet Lag Research

With jet lag being such a bother to so many people, scientists have long been researching potential treatments. In fact, a few years ago, researchers from the Sanford University School of Medicine conducted a study on flashing light and its impact on jet lag. The 2016 report stated that “exposing people to short flashes of light while they’re sleeping could provide a fast and efficient method of preventing jet lag.” This light therapy helps adjust participants’ internal clock to time changes.

Another 2016 scientific report, this time from the University of Surrey, found that meal adjustments is an effective jet lag cure. The study focused on long-haul flight crews since they experience jet lag more frequently than the average traveler. According to the researchers, meal times play a crucial role in resetting the body clock. When long-haul cabin crewmembers regulate their meal times on their days off it eases their jet lag symptoms.

This innovative research may seem impractical for the average traveler, but you can incorporate some of the scientific findings into your own travel schedule quite easily.

How to Beat Jet Lag

Listed below are a few tips that can help you avoid jet lag.

  1. Prepare your body before you leave. According to experts, “the most effective treatments for jet lag rely on shifting the circadian clock to the new time zone as fast as possible.” This means adjusting to the time zone of your final destination before you leave. So, if you have the time, try slowly rearranging your schedule a few days before your trip so you’re in sync with the other time zone. This might mean going to sleep at awkward hours or having your meals at unusual times, but it can definitely help.
  2. Prepare on the plane. If you don’t have the time to adjust your body before your trip, try doing so on the plane. Set your watch to the time zone you’re heading to and start adjusting on the plane. That might mean going to sleep during the flight or staying awake, depending on your destination.
  3. Allow yourself some recovery time. Hopefully, if you’ve had some time to prepare before your flight you’ll experience very little jet lag. However, just in case, consider taking it easy on the first day of your vacation. Have leisurely activities planned so your body has time to recuperate.

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