Jet lag or travel fatigue can be a killer.
What is Jet lag?
Well, it occurs when you travel across more than one time zone and your body struggles to adapt to the new time zone. This mainly occurs on long haul flights across different continents.
The mayoclinic state it happens due to alterations of your circadian rhythms putting your sleep-wake cycle out of sync. A circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal body clock which operates with your brain. Which works in cycles between sleepiness and awakeness.
Have you ever commuted a long distance from flying and have work or school to attend to the next day? Arriving at the office the next day like a zombie. Waking up at 3:00 am your body clock thinking it’s still in the former country? Just as bad, arriving at your destination and being incredibly exhausted from the journey you have to spend the rest of your day sleeping?
If you’ve experienced jet lag/travel fatigue your symptoms might differ from the next person reading this post. Medicalnewstoday state people can suffer from headaches, insomnia, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating and mood changes. As well as affecting the physical and mental performance of your normal daily tasks.
It’s normally experienced 24 or 48 hours after you’ve arrived at the destination. It’s not permanent as your body’s circadian rhythms eventually adjust back to the current destination you’re residing in. Yet experts note and statnews state it’s harder for your body to adjust coming from an Eastern time zone to a Western time zone. So, if you’re planning a holiday perhaps allocate yourself a few days off after your vacation to recover.
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Moreover, you can simply minimise your chance of jet lag/travel fatigue by following these steps. Likewise if not minimise, at least make your recovery quicker. Here are some top tips on how to do so:
Avoid the use of mobiles, computers and TV around bedtime.
All of these devices contain an artificial light, blue light. It has been discovered that blue light reduces your supply of melatonin automatically, according to LiveScience. Which then, alters your sleeping patterns making it harder for you to go to sleep. If you’re returning from a trip or arriving somewhere and need to catch up with your sleep avoid using these gadgets.
Try not to drink drinks that have caffeine
Avoid drinking coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks before, during or after travel. The stimulants in these drinks will keep your brain more alert preventing it from shutting down for sleep.
Have a good night sleep the day before you fly
Don’t deprive yourself of sleep beforehand. As exhaustion will just hit you even harder!
Expose yourself to sunlight (if you need to be awake)
If you have commitments like work, meetings or other plans getting off that aeroplane. It’s best you expose yourself to as much sunlight as you can. The sunlight will keep you alert as it will trick your body clock telling you that you need to stay awake.
Adjust your sleep schedule before you leave
If you have time on your hands a few weeks prior to travel, you could slowly try sleeping 30 minutes earlier or later (depending on your direction of travel). Keeping increasing or decreasing by 30 minutes. Likewise, change your eating patterns slightly to adapt to your arrival when you’re there.
Adjust your watch face
Nowadays mobiles, computers and tablets do this automatically according to a time zone. However, if you own a watch, make sure you set the time in advance of your countries destination. That way, you will be able to align your mind with the new time zone. Hoping to make your transition into it a little bit easier.
Some people like to take melatonin supplements to help your body adjust to your circadian rhythms, according to sleepeducation. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the evening by the pineal gland in the brain. Hence, why people feel sleepy the most at night. Melatonin supplements may help you sleep slightly easier…
Take a few extra days off work
As mentioned in the beginning, this can be an important one. Especially, if you’re heading to work the next day. The last thing you want is to fall asleep on the job, you could make some serious mistakes! I am speaking from experience here.
If you don’t drink enough water throughout your journey you will become dehydrated. When you are dehydrated your bladder can become irritated. Making you want to use the bathroom more frequently to pee more. If you’re constantly peeing and your water levels are not balanced you will be kept awake throughout the night.
When you bathe in hot water, it causes your bodies temperature to rise then cool down. Which in return helps you to relax. Once relaxed it is easier to fall asleep.
Long layover, pay extra for a good night sleep
Certain airports have airport hotels either inside or attached to the airport. If you have a long layover of 10 hours or more, it may be worth considering booking yourself into the airport hotel. That way, you might be able to feel more rejuvenated when reboarding your next flight. Feeling fresh may help you psychologically to feel less exhausted. It’s all a trick on the mind!
Jet lag isn’t completely ‘curable’ however it can be minimised by incorporating some of these travel hacks may help you psychologically. It’s all about advancing and tricking the mind into thinking you need to be awake or asleep. If you have it, it’s not the end of the world either as your body clock will eventually return to the time zone of your country. However, if you travel often it may be worth speaking to your doctor as regular travel and lack of sleep could disrupt your life dramatically.
Have you ever had jet lag before? Share your tips on how to recover from it in the comments below…