Traveling by plane for many hours, crossing many time zones in no time, and when you arrive at your destination you feel tired and apathetic and cannot fully enjoy your holidays, most likely you are suffering from Jet Lag.
But let’s start with order and clarify what Jet Lag is:
Jet Lag is a physiological condition that results from alterations in the body’s circadian rhythms caused by rapid long-distance (east-west or west-east) trans-meridians.
What are circadian rhythms?
Circadian rhythms, or the body clock, are 24-hour cycles in the biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes of our bodies. They regulate daily activities, such as sleep, wakefulness, nutrition and body temperature regulation.
But what are the symptoms of Jet-Lag?
The symptoms of Jet Lag vary, not everyone has the same symptoms, and they differ in:
- sleep disturbances, insomnia, lethargy and fatigue,
- heavy and aching head,
- irritability, confusion and difficulty concentrating,
- mild depression,
- loss of appetite,
- a feeling of dizziness,
- gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea or constipation.
Pay attention to the effect of alcohol and caffeine
The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that drinking alcohol or caffeine during or before a flight can make symptoms worse . For one thing, both can affect dehydration, and hydration during a long flight is very important. The air inside the aircraft cabin is drier than natural air at ground level, this causes dehydration , so the longer the flight the more we need to drink a lot of water , a very important action that should not be underestimated. because it is able to exacerbate the perceived symptoms, thus extending the duration of the disorder.
Additionally, drinking alcohol increases the urge to urinate, which can interrupt sleep, and the hangover effect can worsen the effects of Jet Lag and subsequent fatigue once you arrive at your destination.
Strategic Tips to Reduce Jet Lag Symptoms
- Choose flights that arrive in the early evening local time, so you can aim to sleep around 10pm.
- If you are preparing for a long flight to the east, getting up and going to bed early for several days before the flight helps reduce symptoms instead. for a flight west, get up and go to bed later.
- Change the time in the destination time zone as soon as you board the plane to keep active during the flight by exercising, stretching and walking down the aisle and aim for a strategic nap.
- Try to sleep when it is night at your destination and sleep 20 minutes at a time on other occasions to reduce sleepiness.
- Drink lots of water during the flight to minimize dehydration.
People who can lay back or lie down and sleep during a flight are less likely to experience Jet Lag, so dress comfortably and in layers this way if you are hot you will take off your sweatshirt or sweater and if you are cold you can cover yourself accordingly. In addition, walking and stretching your legs is more than positive, gymnastics is super positive or better, stretching in the plane, consists of a series of movements so as not to suffer more than necessary the hours and hours of flying that we spend mainly sitting, airlines themselves encourage airplane stretching. Do you want to try it too when you are in flight? no problem, here below I leave you an illustrated diagram on the most suitable movements.
What to do once you arrive at your destination:
- Avoid heavy meals or strenuous exercise.
- Spend time outdoors preferably in sunlight.
- Sleep at a “normal” time for your destination time zone.
- The sooner a person can adapt to local time, the sooner the body clock will adapt to the new environment.
Why is it more difficult to travel from west to east?
When traveling east , the symptoms are more pronounced, because physically our bodies have less time to recover. Traveling west adds hours to our days, while traveling east reduces them. Research has confirmed that travel from east to west (from Rome to New York for example) is easier for our body because these time-regulating cells take, more than 24 hours to complete a complete cycle. Hence, our organism fits better because it is already set up for a cycle longer than 24 hours.
Traveling from north to south or south to north can cause additional problems, as the seasons are different.
It should be made clear that Jet Lag does not usually occur after crossing only one or two time zones, the more time zones you cross, the worse the symptoms can be.