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What is Jet Lag?
For those of us who have ever spent time traveling, particularly flying over an ocean, or traveling multiple times in a matter of a few days, then jet lag has become an unavoidable part of the experience. Essentially, since planes can transport us so quickly across huge distances, we will end up in a different time zone than where we started, having “gained” or “lost” a handful of hours – or even more.
Basically, you can depart from London at 10 am heading west, and land in San Francisco 11 hours later. Your body will feel as though it is nearly 10 pm, but when you land, San Francisco is 8 hours behind London, which means that it is approximately 1 pm! Your body’s normal clock, the way that it regulates your sleep cycles, the chemical balance in your system…all of them can get thrown severely out of whack by jet lag.
Medically known as desynchronosis, jet lag plagues millions of people each year who travel longitudinally by plane, and at one point, it was actually classified as a sleep disorder. It can often take a few days to get over, which includes being wide awake in the middle of the night in your new locale, feeling exhausted during the day, and generally “lagging behind” the rest of the world. People have developed plenty of home remedies for jet lag over the years; let’s take a closer look at these 10 ways to beat jet lag.
Ways to Beat Jet Lag
Traveling can be hectic, but anticipating jet lag is often the best way to beat it. Ensure that you get proper rest before your trip depending on where you are traveling. This will help your body accustom itself to the new time zone easier and more rapidly.
Change the Meal Times
Beating a jet lag can be as easy as changing your meal times, claims a study conducted by the University of Surrey. The researchers say that by simply shifting your breakfast time to five hours from waking up delays the blood sugar by the same time, and thus helps calm the circadian rhythm. Simply put, adjust your body clock to the place where you’re landing and be free of jet lags!
Sleep on the Plane
The problems with jet lag often arise due to a combination of exhaustion and screwed up time zones. If you can manage to snag some restful sleep on the plane trip, your body will be far more prepared to tackle the time zone shift once you land. It isn’t easy to do, but try to use a pillow, some earbuds, or any other natural sleep aid that might help.
Use Lavender Oil
This particular oil has been shown to enhance sleep in a natural way, unlike pharmaceuticals and other common sleep aids. Sprinkle some lavender oil on your pillow and enjoy the restful sleep, either before your travels or once jet lag sets in upon your arrival. Restful, recuperative sleep is what you need!
Pineapples are full of many beneficial nutrients, including melatonin, which is an important hormone in our bodies that is crucial in the regulation of our sleep cycles and circadian rhythms. Typically, melatonin is released based on the amount of light out body perceives, but jet lag confuses that process. Extra melatonin in your diet, from oranges, pineapples, or melatonin supplements, helps our bodies fall back into a natural cycle.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
It may be tempting to use alcohol to fall asleep, or caffeine to overcome tiredness, but these two chemicals can confuse an already confused body! It can actually take longer to overcome jet lag if you continue artificially manipulating your sleeping and wakefulness.
Increase Fluid Intake
Dehydration is dangerous under any conditions, but if you’re also suffering from jet lag, the lack of energy and cognitive impairment of even minor dehydration can make the uncomfortable sensation last for days, perhaps even your whole trip. Putting enough fluids in your body can effectively help jet lag, or at least not make it worse!
Have the Right Mindset
Our minds are powerful things, but we can sometimes trick them if we try hard enough. By setting your watch to the time zone to which you are flying as soon as you get on the plane, your body will begin to think along the same “timeline” and it will be easier for you to sleep at appropriate times, more specifically, during the same times you’ll hope to sleep in your destination.
Eat Light Meals
Not that airplane food is that exceptional anyways, but eating a heavy meal can cue our “mealtime” clock, which is one of the ways our body tells us what time it is. By eliminating our mealtime clock and possibly fasting for a few hours (and during the flight), our body can be tricked into re-setting its internal clocks, thus beating jet lag.
Use Naps Wisely
When you do arrive and feel jet lag setting in, don’t immediately crash into a nap. Try to stay awake until a normal sleeping hour, and use naps sparingly. Passing out in the middle of the day upon arrival can be disastrous, solidifying the jet lag for an extra few days, rather than getting it over quickly.
Avoid Depressants or Sleeping Pills
Artificially forcing sleep on your body is a poor choice if you’re worried about jet lag. Depressants and sleeping pills don’t provide restful, recuperative sleep; they simply force your body into a sleep state, just like alcohol. In the long run, trusting behavioral and natural solutions for jet lag will help you feel back to normal much faster!