How to Overcome Jet Lag Quickly

By Niyati Shinde on Jul 09, 2015
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Whether you are travelling for business or for pleasure, alone or with family, to an island or to the mountains, within the same continent or to the other side of the globe, travelling to a new time zone can result in jet lag. International travellers and frequent fliers suffer from the symptoms of jet lag the most. So, what can be done to reduce, or better yet, overcome jet lag quickly? Let's understand this phenomenon.

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder. Disturbed sleep, fatigue, headaches, stomach problems and difficulty in concentrating are some of its symptoms. The more time zones you cross, the more intense the symptoms are likely to be. If you are an older adult, jet lag may hit you harder.

Photo by Alberto Vaccaro (CC BY2.0)

What Causes Jet Lag?

Ever wondered why you start getting sleepy by night time? Why you start feeling hungry by noon? Circadian rhythms. Your circadian rhythm is your biological clock that controls your actions- right from when to start feeling sleepy to when to feel hungry. Jet lag occurs when you travel across two or more time zones. You know you have been hit by it when you start getting sleepy and tired. This occurs when your circadian rhythms refuse to let go of their original biological schedules and thus cannot quickly adjust to the new time zone. A funny consequence of this being you end up sleeping bang in the middle of noon and are wide awake as an owl at midnight! Jet lag occurs when your internal clock and the external time are desynchronized.

Photo by leoplus (CC BY-SA2.0)

How to Overcome Jet lag?

  1. Simulate your schedule
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Take medication but with caution
  4. Take a shower
  5. Soak in sunshine
  6. Relax after the landing
  7. Avoid junk food for kids

1. Simulate your schedule:

Try simulating your new schedule. Start sleeping later or earlier than usual depending on the country of your travel. Schedule your meals accordingly. This will help you in setting your circadian rhythms. Follow the same schedule while in flight. If its bedtime at the destination of arrival, sleep in the flight. If it is daytime, try staying awake. It is a tough thing to follow so let it happen naturally, dont force it. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before bedtime. Both act as stimulants and prevent sleep.

Image Source: Photo by Aweisenfels

2. Stay hydrated to fight the jet lag:

There can never be enough emphasis on the benefits of water! Drink a lot of water- before, during and after your flight. Dehydration can worsen jet lag. Remember, water! Not juice, not alcohol, not energy drinks. Drinking plain simple water is the best jet lag remedy.

Image Source: Photo by Davide Restivo

3. Take medication but with caution:

Melatonin supplements may be taken to combat jet lag. Melatonin is a naturally secreted substance in our bodies that helps our circadian rhythms. However, the effectiveness of Melatonin supplements is a much debated subject. Many swear by its usefulness while some find it to be completely useless.  Check with your doctor first before trying it.

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Image Source: Photo by Murrur

4. Take a shower - the most effective remedy for jet lag:

So, you finally landed your destination at night and are still fighting jet lag? When in doubt, a hot refreshing bath always works! The water will ease sore muscles from travel and will help you relax and unwind. It might even make you feel sleepy. 

Image Source: Photo by Nicole-Koehler

5. Soak in sunshine - The easy way out:

After reaching your destination, try to get outside in the sunlight whenever possible. Daylight is a powerful tool for regulating the biological clock and thus helps you to overcome jet lag. Staying indoors is known to worsen it.

Image Source: Photo by Oliverherold

6. Relax after the landing:

Avoid doing anything important as soon as you land. Don't rush off to that important meeting or that exciting new theme park! It is a bad idea to deal with any adrenalin boosting activities within 2-3 hours of your arrival. Give it atleast half a day for your body and mind to adjust to the new environment and time zone.

Photo by Alexas_Fotos

7. Avoid junk food for kids:

For parents travelling with children, keep your kids topped up on healthy snacks along with following regular mealtimes. Avoid junk food; it will only worsen the problem. Apart from this, do ensure that they soak in plenty of sunshine.

Photo by AdinaVoicu

Follow these simple pointers and don't let jet lag ruin your next vacation. I am all set to travel to the mountains now! Where are you going?

Share your ideas and tricks that you use to overcome Jet Lags in comments below.

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