Whether jetting off to stroll the cobbled streets around the Seine or fleeing to a far-flung fantasy island (we can dream about travel plans like that right now), jet lag sure can be a drag. Hopping from one time zone to the next can have a knock-on effect that follows you for the first few days of your trip, making you feel sluggish, sleepy, and ready to stretch out on the bed rather than explore the sights. While your circadian rhythm is no fool, there are a few tricks and tips that can help your body beat back jet lag. These are our tips on how to naturally deal with changing time zones and some tips to help you beat jet lag back with the big stick.
What is Jetlag, Anyway?
We've all heard the word but what does jet lag mean and what the hell is going on in the body? Our body works on a 24-hour cycle where we naturally alternate between rest and sleep and action. This is called the circadian rhythm which in short is the body's internal clock.
Whether you are flying west or traveling east, when we rapidly jump across time zones, our body's circadian rhythm gets messed up and confused. The further you jump, the more of a challenge it can be as your body's internal clock gets out of sync. The science behind jet lag links to a disruption in two different groups of neurons in the brain.
One of the groups is responsible for physical fatigue and the deeper side of sleep, while the other is linked to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This latter group of neurons struggles to catch up and adjust with the new time zone and this has a knock-on effect on the other group of neurons too.
A shakeup to our internal body clock (circadian rhythm) also affects our hormone regulation and body temperature which can also have a knock-on effect on our feelings of disorientation and feeling out of sync.
There are other elements of long-haul flights that can also feed into jet lag and your overall health. Dehydration is common on a long flight as is a disruption to your natural eating habits and the stress on the body being sat upright for a long period of time. All these can feed into exhaustion and confusion post-flight.
Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with jet lag.
- Insomnia or disrupted sleep pattern
- Mild depression or mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Changes to gastro system (diarrhoea or constipation)