First of all, it is important to know exactly what jetlag is and how it affects you during your travels. Jetlag is an imbalance in our body’s natural “biological clock” caused by traveling to different time zones. In short, our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called “circadian rhythms.” These rhythms are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help determine when we sleep and when we wake.1
When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it’s actually the middle of the afternoon or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. This experience is known as jet lag.
Over the years, there have been a variety of different solutions to jetlag, but the big question is, do any of these actually make a difference in combatting jetlag?
Something that can help is to change your watch to the destination’s time zone when you board the flight, the more you look at this, and the more your brain is convinced of its new time zone. Once you arrive at your destination, always keep to your destinations clock and not the time that it would be at home.
By fitting in some last minute exercise, this will help to work out any stresses before your flight and if you can manage it, try to fit in exercise when you have arrived at your destination.
A massive trigger of jetlag is excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption when travelling. While sugary drinks may quench your thirst initially, the sugars and artificial sugars siphon out your body’s water storage by making your organs work harder to process them. It is important to stay hydrated when you are travelling, though on a long flight, in that case, you may want to opt for an aisle seat… Dehydration at an altitude causes toxins to build up quicker because oxygen is scarce and your body functions less efficiently, making you feel groggy after a long flight.2
Though it can be difficult while stuck in the plane or even in an airport terminal, try to get as much natural daylight as possible. Once you arrive at your destination it is as important to get it there too if it is daytime. Daylight is a good stimulant to regulate your biological clock.
When trying to sleep on the plane, make sure you are doing so at the correct time of day at your destination. So if it is night time at your destination, try to sleep according to their times. Using a sleeping aid like Melatonin as this is a brain hormone that helps control the body’s circadian rhythm, a natural way to control your sleep. Also try this with some simple items like ear plugs, a sleeping mask and a neck pillow.
A massively important piece of advice is to turn off all devices a couple of hours before sleep as the lights and activities can prevent you from falling asleep by distracting your mind and creates a wake-up effects on the brain.
Be prepared for your next big trip with these simple facts. Travel happy, arrive refreshed.