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7 Simple Tips To Help You Overcome Jet Lag
Jet lag is one of the most common sleep disorders. In fact, it affects almost anyone who travels across two or more time zones.
But the good news is that there are jet lag remedies and ways to prevent it in the first place. So, on your next long flight, you can be better prepared to prevent jet lag affecting your sleep and your adventure.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is that feeling of tiredness you have for a day or even longer after a flight. It’s your body’s way of trying to adjust to the change in time zone. Jet lag leaves you feeling like you just need a good sleep.
Jet lag is a temporary condition that unbalances your body’s biological clock. It usually begins when you travel across more than two time zones. Some people are more susceptible to jet lag than others. And some are simply better prepared for it.
It’s All About Your Circadian Rhythm
To prevent jet lag you need to understand your body’s circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is on a 24-hour clock. And your rhythm affects you physically, mentally and behaviourally on a daily cycle. Your circadian rhythm uses light, from the sun, to signal when you should be feeling tired or alert.
So, as the sun is setting that’s a signal for your circadian rhythm to bring on a feeling of tiredness. It does this by releasing melatonin, the sleep hormone, into your body. So it makes sense that your circadian rhythm will be affected by a change in timezone.
That’s because your body’s usual routine of releasing melatonin or suppressing it when the sun comes up may have changed by many hours up to half a day.
Your circadian rhythm adjusts slowly to this change. And that slow adjustment leaves you feeling like you want to sleep in the middle of the day. Or stay up late into the night. Which is not great if you’re on a business trip or want to squeeze in lots of sightseeing.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Jet Lag?
If you’re like most people it’s going to take you at least a day to recover from jet lag. In fact, it’s estimated to take one day per 1-2 time zones you travel. For example, if you crossed five time zones on your flight, then it’s going to take 2-4 days to recover from jet lag.
Also, the older you are the longer it takes your body to adjust. And if you’re travelling a lot over a short period of time you may feel excessive tiredness. Like you are suffering from constant jet lag.
It also depends on which direction you’re travelling in. If you’re travelling east, you’re more likely to suffer from jet lag. However, if you’re travelling west you may only suffer from minimal jet lag. Either way, the power is in your hands. With our tips, you can minimise the impact of jet lag and sleep well regardless of your age or which direction you’re travelling.
1. Sleep Well
Sleeping well on your flight can make a difference to jet lag. But it’s easier said than done. Before getting on your flight set your watch to the time in your destination. If your bedtime is around 8 pm then try to sleep on your flight when it’s 8 pm at your destination. Check out our tips on how to sleep on a flight and be prepared.
2. Arrival Time
The arrival time of your flight makes a difference. If you can, try to book a flight that arrives in the early evening. This is especially important if you struggle to sleep on a plane.
By arriving early in the evening you can plan to stay up until around 10 pm before going to sleep. By the time you collect your baggage and make your way to your accommodation, it will be getting close to this time anyway.
Take a hot shower or bath and make your room as quiet and dark as possible. Having a great night’s sleep will help your body adjust more quickly and minimise your jet lag the next day.
3. Change Your Sleep Routine
In the week leading up to your flight try to change your sleep routine slightly. This may mean going to bed an hour or two earlier or later than your usual bedtime. And waking up an hour or two earlier or later. You can even set a clock in your home to the time of your travel destination. This will make it easier to work out your bedtime and waking time.
4. Avoid Alcohol
Avoid alcohol on your flight and also a day or two after your arrival. While alcohol may make you feel drowsy and you may find it easier to fall asleep it can also disrupt your sleep. Alcohol can even disrupt your circadian rhythm by affecting melatonin production.
Also, it blocks REM sleep. This is the sleep phase that is most restorative and just what your body needs during or after a long flight. And if you have snoring or sleep apnea* and don’t have your CPAP machine with you, alcohol can relax the muscles in your throat making you more prone to snoring.
5. Limit Caffeine
We all know caffeine is a stimulant. And even black or green tea can disrupt your sleep. During your flight be aware of the time at your destination. If it’s 3-4 hours before your usual bedtime, skip the tea and coffee and get some sleep on your flight instead.
6. Avoid Heavy Meals
If your flight is arriving close to your bedtime skip the final flight meal. Or opt for a light alternative. Eating fires up your metabolism. And a large meal can also cause digestive problems which you don’t want before going to bed.
7. Get Some Light
Once you have arrived at your destination try to spend time outdoors as much as possible. Exposure to daylight will help your body adjust to your new time zone. And your circadian rhythm will catch up to the change faster.
So next time you’re going on a long flight, you can easily avoid jet lag with these simple tips. All it takes is some preparation before your trip and some common sense during your flight. Don’t forget to check out our tips on how to sleep on a plane and enjoy your jet lag-free adventure!
* The negative consequences of sleep apnea are serious. If your sleep apnea is untreated please get in touch with us. The effects of treatment are extraordinarily positive.
Call us today on 1300 246 637 for a free no-obligation chat with one of our friendly Sleep Therapists. Contact us now.