Travel is a wonderful privilege with very few downsides...but then there is jet lag. I am currently suffering myself after flying home to the UK from 6 months abroad and have been doing research on how to handle it! Here is what I have discovered, some helpful tips and suggestions of ways you can get over jet lag more quickly and reduce symptoms.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag happens when you alter your natural circadian rhythm by travelling to a new time zone. Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock that your body uses to manage sleep and wake times, it measures daylight, your temperature, and your hormones and therefore understandably gets out of sync when you travel! Some people are more susceptible to jet lag than others, age can be a factor and how frequently you travel. It can cause fatigue and insomnia and all the delightful symptoms associated with that like mood swings, an inability to concentrate and headaches.
How long does it take to get over jet lag?
Your body will naturally adjust and the general rule is that it takes a day for each time zone you travel through so as an example if you travel from California to England like I often do, it will take 8 days to fully recover. Jet lag is worse when you travel forward in time, from west to east — but it can last longer going the other way. I personally find it a lot easier going back in time to California but I'll wake up really early for a while and even after spending a couple of months there I find it hard to stay up late at night.
5 tips to get over jet lag
1. Adjust to your new time zone
This is more of a mind trick than anything else but if you adjust your watch/phone to your new time zone as soon as you get on the plane it can help you make the shift.
2. Get outside
Travel can play havoc with your internal clock, partly due to a difference in your exposure to light. Exposing yourself to natural daylight after travelling will help wake you up, as it reduces the release of melatonin hormones that make you sleepy.
3. Stay hydrated
If you're dehydrated, your jet lag symptoms will feel even worse. Make sure you drink enough water before, during and after your flight. You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security with you and then fill it up airside to take on the plane with you or request it in flight. Try and avoid too much in flight bubbly.
4. Manage your sleep
Try and avoid napping upon arrival if it's during the day, and sleep only according to your new time zone and schedule. Eye masks, earplugs, comfy pillows and sleep aids like melanin capsules or CBD oil can all help you drift off if you're struggling.
Caffeine can be handy to keep you alert during waking hours, especially in the morning (or an espresso martini is a great trick a night). Coffee, tea, energy drinks and sodas, and chocolate all contain caffeine but of course watch how much you consume and be cautious of other nasty ingredients that can do you more harm than good.
Can you prevent jet lag?
Sadly, not really. One option is to try and change over to your new time zone a few days early but either way, you're going to lose some time on either side to it where you don't feel on top form. If you are going forwards in time, try and sleep as much as you can on the plane (see above point on sleep aids!) and then plan your first few days to allow for a slow start.
Do you have any other tips on how to get over jet lag? I'd love to hear them, comment below!