Last updated: January 29, 2017
Some people think that jet lag is a figment of one’s imagination. After all, some people see jet lag as a state of mind, where you can simply shake it off (but not as well as Taylor Swift) by simply napping before or during your flight and thinking happy thoughts once you land. In this article, we'll go over some proven methods on how to avoid jet lag.
The reality is that jet lag is a real condition that can affect anyone, regardless of how positive you are. Even Buddhists get jet lag from time to time, no matter how transcendent they may be.
The reason jet lag occurs is that, by travelling long distances in a short amount of time, as happens when you fly, your body’s circadian systems need to reset to your new location. Your circadian system is like an internal clock that tells you what time it is. This is the reason we feel awake during the day and sleepy at night.
When you move to a new location, your body needs to catch up and tell your brain that you should still be awake, even though your brain wants to go to sleep. To learn more about the circadian system and jet lag, you should read a great article at the National Sleep Foundation website.
Now that we know what it is, we should learn how to avoid jet lag symptoms so you can enjoy every experience in your new destination. You should be wowing your office’s international branch, enjoying Paris at night, and waking early to see the sun rise over the Pyramids, not worrying about jet lag. Fortunately, you will have no worries with these jet lag remedies that will help prevent the symptoms of jet lag.
How to Avoid Jet Lag
With some jet lag remedies, you can simply avoid experiencing the jet lag symptoms so you can focus on what is important, the time you are spending in your new destination.
The most common way to eliminate jet lag is to simply wait. For such an easy solution, it is also very effective, as jet lag does not last more than a week in most individuals who experience it. All you have to do is stay hydrated, get good quality sleep, and wait for your body’s circadian system to adjust to its new surroundings.
Some people who experience jet lag do not want to wait. Businessmen and women have important presentations to give, travellers want to spend their time in a new country taking in new experiences, and students want to start learning at their new universities. Sometimes, you cannot wait to get over the effects of jet lag and, for times like these, medication and light therapy can help you overcome your jet lag much more quickly than sleeping it off.
Some common drugs that are used to quickly treat jet lag are Ambien and Provigil. Other drugs exist, but you do not need to take multiple drugs. One type of drug should be enough. After all, overdosing on drugs is often dangerous and the last thing we want.
Another solution you can try is light therapy. Light therapy is exactly what it sounds like; it is the use of light to help you adjust to a new circadian cycle. The sun might rise earlier in your new destination causing your body to naturally wake up earlier as well. This can leave you in a state of constant fatigue, since your body will not have gotten sufficient sleep due to your jet lag.
You can fix this by getting rid of any and all light sources when you sleep. This means closing the curtains, putting tape over the light on your digital alarm clock, turning off your electronics, and even wearing a sleep mask. With a pitch-black room and an alarm set for the time you want to wake, you can sleep on your own terms.
Of course, this is not the only way you can use light therapy. You should consider the effect you want to achieve and then work backwards, adjusting the light in your bedroom until you achieve the results you want.
One last method to beat jet lag, before it even starts, is to ensure that you drink an acceptable amount of hydrating liquids. You do not need to drink excessive amounts of water, but just make sure you have enough. You can reduce the amount of water you need by not exercising as much, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, and staying out of the hot sun.
Being hydrated will allow your brain to be charged and prepared to deal with the effects of jet lag. Hydration reduces the effects of jet lag because hydration allows your body to function as well as it possibly can.
Common Symptoms of Jet Lag
Jet lag affects each of us differently. Some of us might not experience a reaction, while others may need days or weeks before they are able to overcome their symptoms. Luckily, while jet lag symptoms are annoying, they are relatively minor in scope.
If you are experiencing jet lag, you will feel one, or more, of the following:
- Your sleep is interrupted - This can be anything from suddenly becoming a light sleeper, to suddenly becoming a deep sleeper, or to experiencing insomnia, where you may not sleep at all. Essentially, look for any changes in your sleep routine.
- You are tired during the day - This is a symptom that might be hard for you to notice at first. After all, if you are sightseeing and enjoying a new country, the experiences can over-stimulate you, leading to fatigue. However, if you feel much more tired than usual, especially if you are having trouble concentrating or remembering things, you may be experiencing increased fatigue as a result of jet lag.
- You suddenly experience digestive issues - If you have digestive issues after flying to a new destination, it might not be a sudden shift in diet or culinary hygiene practices that lead you to develop issues like diarrhoea or constipation; rather, it could be jet lag. If you are staying in a new destination for awhile, you may notice your stomach issues getting better. If they do, it was probably jet lag. If you are staying in a new destination for a short while, you might be better off sticking to a diet similar to what you enjoy at home.
- You experience a change in mood - Mood changes are another common symptom of jet lag that you may experience. However, like all the other jet lag symptoms, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint. Everyone has mood changes, and there is no real way to tell whether or not a mood change is due to jet lag or not. However, if you have drastic or noticeable changes in your mood after taking a long flight, jet lag may be the cause.
How To Avoid Jet Lag Conclusion
Following the information above can help you avoid jet lag, or at least reduce its symptoms. As a quick recap, here are some simple steps to follow: stay hydrated, take an Ambien, or use light therapy. Three simple steps will allow you to take full control over your vacation, work trip, or educational adventure in a new country. You no longer have to wait days or weeks to get over jet lag naturally.