What is jet lag? How to overcome jet lag?

Traveling is one of the most common activities where human beings can socially interact and meet people from different cultures. Jet Lag is also very common amongst frequent travelers,  tthis is an alteration of our biological clock and it's produced by traveling long distances throughout different time zones.

From a medical standpoint it’s called ‘’circadian disrhythmia’’.

But when does it happen? Jet Lag is appears mainly when we travel from west to east, because in this direction we are ‘’losing’’ hours while moving through the different time zones, and this causes our biological clock to have a cycle that goes over 24 hours, which is the usual, damaging our ‘’circadian rhythm’’, the one in charge of the time of the day at which we do different things, such as sleeping, or eating.

On the other hand, if we´re traveling from east to west, we are ‘’winning’’ hours, which means you might feel a little tired, but you won’t have any major changes in your biological time cycle.

This is why we should be very cautious when travel, and especially if we’ll travel a long distance, especially if we are traveling from west to east, because a combination of all of these factors can cause our body to end up very confused and tired, generating extreme fatigue, and even indigestion, and other gastrointestinal problems such as loss of appetite. It can also lead to having trouble focusing and remembering things, and not feeling so well in general.

Symptoms of Jet lag

Jet Lag main symptoms might include:

  • Feeling exhausted
  • Digestive problems (vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Confusion
  •  Irritability
  • Reluctance
  • Forgetfulness
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

Even though there are no magic remedies, gladly, there is something we can do about it. To try to, if not avoid it fully, at least diminish it as much as possible, so you can enjoy your trip and not have to worry about not feeling well. So,

How to avoid Jet lag?

Before the flight

First, try to start adapting to the new time zone you are going to visit: For example, a week before the flight you could start going to bed later than usual, or earlier than usual, depending on the time of your destination of choice.

It is also important that you sleep well at night the night before the flight, at least 6 to nine hours straight.

When people have very strict schedules for eating or sleeping, it is more likely that they will be affected by jet lag when they travel.

During the flight

-Adjust your sleep time to the time of your destination.

-Try to sleep during the flight. You can take with you a small pillow, ear plugs, and a sleep mask.

-Try to avoid alcohol. In the air, alcohol increases tiredness and dehydration. 7. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks. Especially if you will be landing at night, because this will affect your sleep pattern.

-Walk around the plane, in order to keep your blood pumping, and if possible stretch a little.

-Drink enough water, to keep yourself hydrated.

After the flight

-Try to adjust your eating and sleeping Schedule to the ones at your new location.

-Some studies have shown that melatonin may also be an usefull tool for dealing with the insomnia that comes with the process.

-Spend time in the Sun with sunscreen on, and stay outside as much as possible.  

-On the first day, take it easy. Try to get some rest, and leave more challenging activities toward the end of your trip.

– Work out as much as your itinerary allows you. To keep your endorphin levels up and feel better. Do your stretches as well, to keep your muscles relaxed.

-It is also important to eat well during your time at your destination. Try to eat enough fruits and vegetables. And drink enough water. Eating out or eating fast food tends to be very common when we travel, but try to eat as clean as possible to diminish the symptoms of jet lag.

Lastly

-Scales or stop offs are also important to prevent jet lag. It’s good to spend at least a full day in a halfway destination before arriving at your final one.
-Try to travel from east to west if possible. It may be a longer trip, but you will avoid jet lag and might save you a Little Money on the plane ticket.

Upon arrival, remember that jet lag affects everyone in a different way, some stronger than others. Depending on many factors, the most important one being how many time zones you will be flying through. But if you are traveling from North to South or viceversa, you won’t be facing this issue at all.