Even if you are still new to travelling, you still must know how awful and annoying a Jet-Lag can be. Almost everyone flying abroad knows the feeling: tiredness, headaches or migraines, bad temper, and so on. All these things are symptoms of Jet-Lag, and it can happen even if your flight was only a 4 hour one. Here are 10 things you need to know about the phenomenon if you want to be able to overcome it.
#1: It’s Not a Question of How Long Your Flight is
Rather, it’s a matter of how many time-zones you “skip” during that flight. Though probably very exhausting, a 12 hour flight from north to south might not affect you as much as a 5 hour flight from west to east. Apparently, a quick shift in time-zones temporarily scrambling our biological clock. Our system will self-regulate, but it takes time. Sometime, our body will need up to two whole weeks to get used to the new time-zone!
#2: Jet-Lag is More Than Just a Disruption of Sleeping Patterns
Even tough Jet-Lag is known for its effect on your sleep, it is so much more than just that. Among other symptoms you can find restlessness, tendency to catch a cold or the Flu, digestion problems, lack of motivation and even mild depression, and issues with cognitive processes such as memory function.
#3: Flying East is More Difficult
If you fly from west to east, the chances of a harsh Jet-Lag increase. The reason behind it is that flying east makes us “squeeze” the days in a shorter time span, whereas flying west makes the days longer. This shortening of the day takes us away from our natural inner rhythm. It is easier for our body to elongate the day than to shorten it.
#4: Exercising Helps
Stretching during the flight helps reducing the stress that a flight causes, obviously, but don’t forget to exercise after you land as well. Though exercising has a minor effect over the ability of the body to adjust to the new time-zone, researches show that moderately exercising helps increasing the time you sleep at night and improve its quality. For the best results, try and work out a few hours before you go to bed, or exercise right after you wake up.
#5: Alcohol Makes it Worse
It might be tempting to start your vacation on the plane and go wild with lots of booze, but when it comes to Jet-Lag it’s a big mistake. Alcoholic beverages dry out your body. Excessive drinking is one of the most common mistakes travelers make. Try to tone down your drinking, and keep hydrating.
#6: Naps are OK
To nap or not to nap? That’s one of the main questions when it comes to sleeping problems caused by Jet-Lag. Most of the people believe you should totally avoid short naps from the minute you arrive at your new destination. But experts claim that a short nap could actually be useful, as long as you limit it to 30 to 40 minutes. A longer nap might confuse your biological clock and make the adjustment harder.
#7: Daylight Resets Your Inner Clock
Since our sleeping patterns are strongly correlated with the day-night patterns, exposing your body to sunlight after a long flight could help reset your inner biological clock. Sleep with the blinds open on the first days after your arrival, and let the sunshine fill the room. Another option is to sit every morning for a few minutes and bask in the sun,and just let nature do its thing. The more your body will be exposed to the day-night patterns, the faster it will bounce back to its natural rhythm.
#8: Change Your Sleeping Schedule in Advance
NASA helps its astronauts to prepare for missions by regulating their sleeping patterns before take-off. If you have enough time, and your schedule allows it, start preparing for your trip a few days before your flight. How? Try to set your waking and sleeping hours to simulate the ones in your new destination. Even if you can only shift a few hours, you will still feel the difference when you’ll land.
#9: Light Meals – Light Jet-Lag
Research shows that skipping the meal on the flight in favor of consuming a few light meals in the regular meal schedule in your new destination will help your body adjust better. Acknowledge the fact that your digestive system is correlated with the biological clock, and that it takes time for it to adjust to the shifting time-zones. Prefer light meals over heavier ones and try not to overburden your system until it adjusts fully.
#10: Sleeping Pills Don’t Help
A lot of travelers choose the easy way out and simply take sleeping pills. This is definitely a way to induce sleep, but it doesn’t help the body regulate its inner processes or stabilize the inner mechanism of day-night patterns. Moreover, researches show that even if it will make you sleep, sleeping pills won’t assure a good quality of sleep.