Jet Lags often occur when people travel rapidly from east to west or west to east. It is a temporary disorder that hampers an individual’s circadian rhythm (body’s biological clock). People with jet lag have their sleep-wake patterns disturbed. Symptoms of jet lag include feeling drowsy, tired, irritable, lethargic and maybe a little disoriented. The more you travel eastward, the higher are your chances of feeling jet lagged. A Jet Lag can really spoil your holiday and nobody would want that after spending so much on it.
Here are some tips to help you beat jet lag:
1) Reach your Destination Early
Sightseeing or socializing while you’re jet-lagged is not a good idea at all. So, it is always better to reach your destination, a day or two in advance, to give your body enough time to relax, sleep and adjust to the new time zone. If travelling for business, try and schedule meetings for Mondays so that you can reach the destination by the weekend and rest well before the meeting.
2) Change Your Routine
A week before you leave, try and change your sleeping pattern according to the place you’re going to be travelling to. If you’re going towards the East, start going to bed earlier. However, if you’re travelling towards the West, go to bed a little later than your usual time.
3) Wear Sunglasses
One of the key influences on the body’s circadian rhythm is sunlight. This is because it regulates the release of the melatonin hormone, which helps in the synchronization of sleep/wake cycles and bodily timings. Your circadian rhythm is in line with the detection of natural sunlight. Thus, putting on sunglasses reduces and controls your exposure to natural sunlight.
4) Don’t Stress
Try not to stress out. Even though you have lots to do, right from packing your bag to putting your documents together, try to calm yourself down. Stress only makes things worse. When under stress, an individual experiences a rush of hormones and the flight or fight response gets activated. This response to stress increases heart rate and can also upset your digestive system. These symptoms along with a jet lag, are enough to ruin your health and your trip.
5) Rest well before you take off
Being tired, exhausted, hung-over or stressed only makes you more vulnerable to a jet lag. Make it a point to sleep well and be well rested before you take off to your destination. Plan a stopover, if possible so that it allows you to adjust gradually to the change in time zones.
6) Hydration is key
The dry air in the flight causes headaches, sore throats, coughs and colds. Doctors suggest drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight. Also, don’t fret about frequent visits to the washroom as these tiny walks to the washroom only increase your blood circulation. Don’t forget to stretch while you’re walking back and forth.
7) Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine
Try to avoid alcohol while travelling as it only messes with your system. Caffeine also interferes with your sleep/wake cycle and slows down your system. Thus, it is always advisable to avoid coffee, tea and soda while travelling.
8) East or West?
Travelling to the East is much worse than travelling to the West. When you travel to the West, you gain time and so, it is not a Herculean task for your body to adjust to this. However, when you travel to the East, you lose time and are left with a shorter day. Adjusting to a shorter day is often found to be more challenging for your body making you prone to jet lags.
9) Eat well
Just like water keeps you hydrated, the meals that you eat also have an impact on your coping mechanisms. Eat a high protein breakfast and lunch and high carbohydrate dinner. Dinner high on carbohydrates makes you feel more sleepy and full. This helps you in sleeping better at night and so, in adjusting to the new time zone. Eat foods like turkey, almonds, dairy, eggs as they are high in Tyrosine, an amino acid found in high protein foods.
Tell us your favourite tip to beat jet-lag in the comments below!
Written and edited by Vrushti Oza.