How to recover from jet lag
Jet lag occurs when you travel across multiple time zones very quickly, and it doesn’t just affect your sleep pattern, but you can experience other symptoms, too. Jet lag can impact the beginning of your holiday – after all, who wants to explore the sites when a nap is so tempting?
Unfortunately, jet lag isn’t avoidable, but there are ways to manage and reduce your symptoms by following the helpful advice in this guide. So get out of bed, put aside the caffeine, and keep reading!
What is jet lag?
Your body has its own internal clock, known as your circadian rhythm, which tells your body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake. As your circadian rhythm is in sync with your original time zone, when you travel across time zones (for example, Europe to Asia) your body won’t be in sync to the place where you’ve travelled to, causing jet lag.
Jet lag can last from a few days to a few weeks, but it all depends on you personally and where you’ve travelled to. Typically, younger people are able to bounce back quicker than older people.
Is jet lag harmful?
Jet lag isn’t harmful, but it can affect your general wellbeing, an unpleasant prospect if you’re travelling to enjoy a holiday or to focus on work. If you’re a seasoned long-distance traveller - you might be a business traveller, pilot or a flight attendant - you’re more likely to experience jet lag due to the nature of your work, which may lead to something known as chronic jet lag.
Chronic jet lag may create persistent sleep problems, like insomnia. Having a healthy circadian system is vital for a healthy body, with chronic jet lag possibly heightening your risk of developing diabetes, depression and certain types of cancer.
What are the symptoms of jet lag?
If you’ve got jet lag, you may be struggling to sleep at night and feel exhausted during the day. But you might be experiencing other symptoms, too, including:
- Concentration and memory problems
- Changes in appetite
- Mild anxiety
- Mood swings
How to recover from jet lag
There’s no quick fix for jet lag, so you’ll have to fight that fatigue! The usual advice is to always listen to your body, but with jet lag, you should listen to your time zone instead. Read on to discover how.
Adapt to your new time zone
…Even if your body resists. It’s important that you try to fit into your new time zone as quickly as possible, that means eating at meal times and going to bed at nighttime.
Although you may not be hungry or tired, teaching your body the new from the old will slowly help you to adjust. Make sure you change the time on your phone and watch, too!
Temporary sleep aids, like Nytol and Kalms, may help you to win the battle with jet lag. If you’re able to get some good quality sleep, odds are, you’ll be well-rested during the day and ready to sleep again at night!
Expose yourself to light - real or not!
Jet lag disturbs your body clock, partly because your exposure to light changes when you move time zones. Therefore, getting out in the sunshine can reduce the amount of melatonin hormones your body creates that make you tired, helping to wake you up.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamps may be able to reduce your jet lag by giving you the appearance of sunshine, used to help those suffering with SAD during the autumn and winter months when the sunlight is sparse.
For most of us, jet lag is a necessary, albeit unpleasant, side effect of visiting countries far, far away. However, if your jet lag is the consequence of work, you might find it frustrating to deal with.
Don’t let jet lag turn your world upside down - if you follow the advice in this guide, we imagine you’ll be on your feet in no time. If you need further information about jet lag, visit the NHS website.