If you’ve ever travelled across multiple time zones, you’ve likely experienced the negatives effects of jet lag. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky!A bad case of jet lag can throw off your entire body clock, leaving you feeling out of whack for up to a week post-travel. Whether you’re travelling for work or play, when jet lag strikes, it can be a trip ruiner! Luckily, there are a few natural jet lag cures and techniques to prevent or lessen those unwanted side effects that come with travelling across times zones. But first, let’s define jet lag and the biological factors at play.
What is Jet Lag?
Referred to as desynchronosis by medical professionals, jet lag is the temporary disruption of your body’s natural clock (also known as the circadian rhythm), which in turn influences your body’s ability to maintain stable energy levels and alertness. The disruption in your body’s clock also affects the way your body releases hormones to help you sleep and wake at the appropriate times, resulting in the telltale jet lag symptoms of fatigue and drowsiness as your body tries to catch up to your new time zone post-travel.
While inconvenient, jet lag symptoms are typically harmless, mild, subside within a few days, and may include:
- Feeling disoriented
- Upset stomach or other gastrointestinal issues
How to Prevent Jet Lag
First Things First, Adjust Your Watch!Start the transition to your new time zone before your plane departs! Once you board and get comfy, set your watch or phone to the local time zone you’re travelling to. Not only does this mentally prepare you to get into a new rhythm, but it’s a good indicator of when you should be sleeping and waking. A good rule of thumb, if it’s daytime in your destination time zone, try to stay awake! And vice versa. It may seem difficult at the time, but trust me, it will pay off upon arrival.
Protect Your Immune SystemTravelling—and jet lag—can be especially harsh on your immune system, so it’s important to take precautions before, during and after your flight to protect your immune system. Stock up on your favourite vitamin and antioxidant-rich supplements and begin taking it religiously in the days leading up to travel. In fact, a traditional herbal superfood blend like Pegaga by PurelyB rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients can help you fight off infections and support your body’s immune system, which is essential during travel.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate...and Then Hydrate Some MoreHydration is another key ingredient in preventing jet lag, while also keeping your immune system strong for the long travel haul. Airlines keep the cabins of the plane at low humidity, which means you’re more prone to dehydration during your trip. To counteract the dry environment during your flight, drink 8-12 ounces of water each hour and skip the alcohol and caffeine, if possible!
Don’t Be Afraid to Move AroundIf you’re staying properly hydrated, frequent bathroom breaks will help with this one! And if you have the urge to move, don’t be scared to get up do a few stretches or take a lap around the plane. At the very minimum, get up once an hour to encourage healthy blood flow and prevent swelling in your feet and legs or more serious conditions like blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Natural Jet Lag CuresOk, so you’ve followed all the steps above and you still find yourself suffering from jet lag. What now?! Here are a few natural cures to quickly help reduce the symptoms of jet lag and get you back on track.
Make Time for a WorkoutWhile there is no scientific evidence suggesting exercise helps to reset circadian rhythm, it has been linked to increased sleep quality during your readjustment period post-flight, which may reduce the length of time you suffer jet lag symptoms. In fact, one study observed flight attendants travelling from Tokyo to Los Angeles. It was concluded that the crew members that participated in moderate outdoor exercise after travel cut their jet lag recovery time from four days to three days.
Catch Some Rays
Light is one of the most important environmental prompts for resetting your body clock. However, according to an interview conducted by Health.com with the founding director of the Biological Rhythms Research Lab at Rush University in Chicago, Charmane Eastman, PhD, it’s important to know that timing is critical when using light in the form of a jet lag cure.
“If you’re travelling eastward—say on an evening flight from New York to London—avoid light during your flight until around 11 a.m. London time after landing; you'll feel more energized and alert throughout the day. You'll also be more likely to fall asleep that night at an appropriate hour in your new time zone . . . then wake in the morning well-rested,” says Eastman. “If you’re travelling west—like from Miami to Los Angeles—expose yourself to light post-flight by going outside under bright skies...later in the day, at dusk, and before bedtime. You'll have an easier time staying up late while waking at an appropriate time for the time zone.”