Athens - Greece
From the pristine beaches of Bali to the colossal skyscrapers of New York City, exploration has been in our nature since the beginning of time. It is such a thrill venturing to a faraway land and encountering people and things you only see on TV. But as you know, nothing in this world is free, and feeding this wanderlust certainly comes at a price. It is infamously known as jet lag, and it is a traveler's worst enemy. In this article we will give you scientific facts about it, as well as actionable ways to beat jet lag.
Being that we are in the travel business, and you would like to know what jet lag is, then we are happy to explain:
Every human being is equipped with a group of cells deep inside their brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, or SCN for short.
These cells act as a natural internal clock that tells different parts of the body to do things at certain times of the day. The SMC cells are activated by sunlight and naturally put the body on the same schedule as the 24 hour rotation of the Earth, telling it when to wake up or go to sleep.
But when you change time zones, this natural clock is thrown off balance, and it can take some time to get back on schedule. According the chief of the fatigue management team at NASA, Dr. Smith L. Johnston, it takes the body about one day to adjust to each time zone it is displaced.
So, if you are traveling from Los Angeles to Cairo, you could only imagine how difficult it would be trying to cope with a 9 hour time difference.
If you are a traveler, then you are certainly familiar with some of the annoying symptoms of jetlag; confusion, daytime fatigue, sleeplessness, and digestive problems.
These are definitely symptoms that you can do without when you are trying to enjoy that dream vacation or business trip. So from one traveler to another, here are some useful and scientifically proven pieces of advice to help overcome jet lag, and get you back on schedule.
So, if you are taking that trip to Cairo we talked about earlier and traveling east, then you should sleep half an hour earlier each day before you fly. Do this for a couple of days before your trip, each day going to bed just a half hour earlier. This helps your internal clock begin the transition to your new time zone, and allows you to adapt faster when you arrive. And if you are traveling west, then you do the exact opposite. This is a really actionable tip that might help you avoid jet lag.
Start adapting yourself to the schedule you will be on when you arrive. As soon as you get on your flight, change the time on your watch to the time at your destination. Doctors say this is mostly psychological, but it helps you get into the new groove of things. Try to sleep on the plane if it is night time at your destination, or stay up if it is day time.
Also fasting, then breaking your fast with breakfast on the plane seems to work for a lot of people, especially when you are going long distances. Keep in mind that planes tend to serve meals at times they would naturally be served at their destination. And we know that fasting and sleeping may make you feel pretty miserable, but keep in mind that forgetting about a bad flight is much easier than wasting two or three days at your destination.
Once you step on that plane, it is very tempting to throw back a couple drinks to make that boring movie they have playing just a little more enjoyable. But we highly recommend that you avoid alcohol and high amounts of caffeine which can cause anxiety, dehydration, and disruption of sleep. Being well hydrated also allows your body to function at its full potential, especially when you arrive at your destination.
Arriving a day or two early before that event or meeting can give your body time to adjust to your new time zone.
Melatonin is the chemical the brain releases that makes you feel sleepy. It is always recommended that you talk to your doctor before using Melatonin because it may not be right for everyone. But studies have shown that people who took around 5 mg of melatonin in the early evening in their final destination where able to adjust to the local timezone much quicker.
Jet lag is certainly known as a traveler's worst enemy and has had a track record of ruining people's vacations all over the world. But at Servantrip we are always working on ways to make your trip as enjoyable as possible, not only through the services we provide but our travel blog and recommendations as as well. Do you have any recommendations or other advice on jet lag? Or would like to share a story? We would love to hear from you.