To get technical, jet lag is a psychological condition which disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms. The term jet lag can also be referred to as desynchronosis, but evidently jet lag is much easier to pronounce and well…easier to remember. In much simpler terms, jet lag occurs when our internal body clock is disrupted, which is why we find ourselves struggling to stay awake or struggling to sleep when we travel.
A Closer Look at Circadian Rhythms
A circadian rhythm , which is also known as the body clock, is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rest and eat. It consists of physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle, and when this changes, our bodies need time to adjust which is why jet lag symptoms will kick in. For example, changes in sleep patterns shift the body’s natural clock and from recent studies, it has shown that this can have negative health effects.
Depending on how many time zones we have crossed during our travels, that will also have a major impact on recovery time. Fun, fun fun!
How Long it Lasts?
Jet lag is only temporary, although it may seem the opposite when you’re experiencing it. As said previously, how long it lasts will depend on the amount of time zones you have crossed. So if you were to travel from Rome to San Francisco, you could suffer from jet lag for 4 or more days. Another study found that it takes a full day to recover from each time zone we travel through, but thankfully there are a range of different things we can do to prevent us accidentally falling asleep in a restaurant or looking zombie like in broad daylight while roaming around Paris.
The symptoms of jet lag vary from person to person, but some of the most common effects include:
- Disruption of sleep
- Headaches and migraines
- Irritability and moodiness
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Loss of appetite
- Mild depression
Preventing Jet Lag
Although tips and tricks can’t guarantee that you’ll wake up feeling refreshed after a 17-hour flight, they’re certainly effective and can reduce the severity of jet lag.
- Alcohol and caffeine is a no go – we know you most likely think caffeine will give you that ‘boost’ but it has quite the opposite effect, especially when traveling.
- Be smart and arrive in the day – arriving at night makes it easier for you to fall asleep and be lazy. If you catch a flight in the day, the daylight and sun makes it easier for you to want to explore and beat fatigue.
- Once settled and you’ve gotten used to the local schedule, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. There are a few hacks to improve your quality of sleep while you’re away, and they can actually work wonders!
- Stay hydrated – and not with alcohol! Your body is able to perform more efficiently when it is hydrated.
- Stay active – On the plane it’s important to have a few strolls up and down the aisles to stretch your legs and the rest of your body. This will help you feel more awake and reduce potential medical complications such as blood clots.
We know jet lag isn’t the greatest, you want to explore different cities and cultures without feeling exhausted, but if you follow a few of the tips above, they can significantly help reduce jet lag and improve your overall mood if you know what is expected. Remember tips for preventing jet lag the next time you’re on your travels, and if you have some tips of your own, feel free to share them with us – the more tips the merrier.