Jet lag is something that affects most long distance flyers to some degree, and can prove to be one of the most uncomfortable parts of travelling. Caused by travelling to different time-zones, jet lag is the result of the body’s circadian rhythm being forcibly disrupted. As effectively a sleep condition, the effects of jet lag echo those of sleep deprivation and are similarly problematic. The phenomenon affects different people in different ways, but typical symptoms include extreme sleepiness during the day and insomnia during the night, often combined with feelings of nausea and headaches throughout.
While jet lag cannot be eradicated completely, it is a distinctly temporary condition and the length of time that you suffer from it is largely down to how you react to it on arrival in a new time-zone.
There are a number of ways in which you can combat jet lag and get on with life unhindered as quickly as possible – ranging from pre-flight preparation techniques and dietary considerations to over-the-counter treatments and re-routing trips to lower impact. While these methods might be useful to some, they’re generally not so straight-forward to implement in practice.
We’re focusing on some of the more simple ways that jet lag can be minimised – here are four easy techniques that, when applied in order, can be the difference between a two or three day period wiped out by jet lag, or a pleasingly rapid adjustment to your new time-zone.
Change your watch the local time – this helps you to get into the new time-zone as soon as possible. Forget about what time it is where you’ve come from.
Take a nap – if you’ve arrived in a new time-zone when your body thinks it’s the middle of the night, the urge to sleep will likely be irresistible. Take a short, timed nap to get a quick boost of energy that will help you last longer throughout the day.
Go to bed on time – resist the urge to go to bed for the night at an unrealistic time. Try and stay awake until a reasonable bed-time in the new time-zone, otherwise you’re risking the effects of jet lag staying longer than they should.
Wake up on time – when you’ve had your first full night in the new time-zone, even if you’ve had a terrible night’s sleep, try and wake up at a reasonable time in the morning. The light environment will help your body adjust.