Circadian Dysrhythmia (or jet lag as it’s more commonly known) can turn the most seasoned travellers into sleep-deprived wrecks – nausea, irritability, red eyes, hopeless wakefulness in the dead of the night… the symptoms are numerous. Try these tips to minimize the strains of jet lag and travel in peace.
Prepare in advance
A few days before your trip, prepare a gradual shift to your new time zone. In jet lag terms, west is best, east is a beast - the rule of thumb is to go to bed slightly later if you’re flying west, or earlier if you’re flying east. Your body adapts better traveling west because your day is extended rather than shortened when you travel east. Why not download one of the apps available online to help you adjust your sleep schedule to the new time zone before travel.
Suck on a lemon
Most of us know that avoiding caffeine and alcohol (though often ignored) is important when flying – as they can lead to dehydration, which, in turn, exacerbates jet lag symptoms. We also know to drink water on the plane to stay hydrated… but not many of us think of lemons, even though they might be one of the most easily-available fruits on an airplane. Sucking a lemon will not only help combat dehydration, but they contain vitamin C (good for the immune system), and hesperidin for better circulation, making them a great minimizer of jetlag symptoms. So next time, you reach for a glass of water from the airhostess - ask for a slice of lemon in your glass.
Follow your circadian rhythms
Jet lag occurs due to disrupted circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm is your body's natural 24-hour routine – linked to our internal master clock. This routine is disrupted when traveling to a new time zone - our bodies tell us it is time to sleep, when it's actually the middle of the afternoon, or it makes us want to stay awake late at night. To overcome this, adjust your sleeping patterns accordingly, and if you must sleep during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, but no longer than two hours.
Move into the light
Another key influence on your internal body clock is sunlight: light influences the regulation of melatonin, which helps synchronize cells throughout the body. During the flight, keep on your overhead light when it's daytime at your destination. Turn it off when it's night. Upon arrival, time your sunlight exposure to ease yourself in: if you’ve travelled west, get some sun in the late afternoon. Avoid sunshine in the evening if you’ve travelled east. Also, avoid comparing your time zone to the one you just left. To settle in, focus on where you are now.
Preparing yourself in advance for a big trip and taking steps to avoid jet lag and its symptoms when traveling, will help you better protect your body and health.