Take The Lag Out Of Jet Lag

We’ve all heard the term “jet lag” and most of us know how it feels, but what exactly is it and how can we reduce its negative effects when we travel? Here’s some helpful info on jet lag to help you reduce it as much as possible so that you can get right down to enjoying your trip.

Time Zones and Jet Lag

Jet lag occurs when you travel across two or more time zones. This disrupts your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, called your circadian rhythm, and your body needs to adjust to local time. The more zones you cross, the more jet lag you may experience. With each time zone you move through, your body can take up to a full day to adjust. Jet lag is usually worse when you travel west to east and “lose time.”

People often associate jet lag with daytime sleepiness, but other symptoms occur too.

  • disturbed sleep
  • difficulty concentrating
  • upset stomach

For retirees, jet lag can hit harder and recovery may take longer.

Five Survival Tips

Use these five survival tips to help minimize your jet lag symptoms to maximize your vacation fun.

  1. Surviving jet lag starts before your trip. Experts recommend shifting your bedtime by 30 minutes each night for a few nights before your departure. If you’re travelling east, shift your bedtime earlier; if you’re travelling west, go later. If possible, change your meal times closer to when you’ll be eating in your destination.
  2. Change your watch to your new local time when you get on the plane. This may help get your mind working like you’re already in the new time zone.
  3. Stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. These substances can further disrupt your sleep patterns and cause dehydration, which can worsen symptoms.
  4. After arrival, eat sensibly in the evening. A high-carb or high-fat meal can further disrupt your sleep as well.
  5. Sunlight exposure helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. When you travel west, get morning sun and avoid afternoon and evening sun. Do the opposite when you go east.

For more information about jet lag and additional survival tips, check out this WebMD site.