There are so many reasons to travel and discover the world at the same time. It opens your eyes. It challenges you. Not only because you have to get along in a foreign culture in a foreign language. No, suddenly you notice that your body is rebelling. You wanted to explore the world and you’re paying the price now. It’s called jet lag. Here you can find out what jet lag is and what tips you could help yourself with.
It’s 4:30 in the morning. Wide awake! You used to know that time when you came home from a party. But to get up so early and be awake at this time… Oh my god. I came home from Hawaii the day before yesterday crossing 12 time zones. So basically I’ve come back from the other side of the world.
Do you have one or more of the following symptoms and have recently flown for miles across multiple time zones?
- digestive disorders
- intestinal disorders
- lack of appetite
- memory and concentration problems
- sleeping disorders
Congrats! You are jetlagged.
Oxford dictionary defines jet lag as “Extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across different time zones.”
Jet lag occurs when you cross multiple time zones, usually on a long-haul flight, and feel the effects on your alertness, appetite and sleeping habits. But why is this happening? The circadian rhythm, our “inner clock”, is responsible for this.
This means that your body initially continues to run at the same rhythm as at the point of departure. Adapting to a new set of waking, sleeping and eating times can take several days. It is said that the body needs about one day per time zone to adapt. From Hawaii to Zurich there are 12 time zones, so it can take up to 12 days until everything is back to normal!
By the way: The feeling of jet lag is more intense when travelling to the East than to the West. It is easier for people to stay up longer (which is “going through a night”) than to get up early. Flights to the East “lose” time. On long-haul flights to the East, you basically “lose” the night.
1. Plan ahead
- Begin the journey in a rested state.
- Plan ahead! Adding a stopover during the journey gives your body time to adapt to the new routine. Positive side effect: The cost of your flight will probably sink.
- Exercise sufficiently and above all regularly. Fit people suffer less (long) from jet lag. So if you want to get rid of a few extra pounds, your possible trip to Australia next year can be a good incentive, right?
2. Eat and drink healthy during the flight
The temptation is great! On long-haul flights there is often a lot to eat and some airlines also offer free alcoholic drinks. Just don’t overdo it! Your body is already stressed by the dry air in the plane and alcohol draws additional hydration from your body. You should also be careful to eat in a balanced way and only if you are feeling hungry. But in this case you’d have to buy your own healthy food at the airport and take it on the plane, so you probably won’t do it. (Note: I always eat from the menu in the plane, but only when I’m hungry and drink a lot of water.)
3. Adjust the clock to the target location
This trick is purely psychological and seems to help certain people.
4. Don’t nap
From Hawaii via San Francisco to Zurich was a 23-hour flight. After such long flights you are usually exhausted. It seems sleep would do well. But that should not be done under any circumstances. The jet lag can be overcome more quickly if one immediately takes over the rhythm/routine of the destination.
5. Go outside
Spend the first day outside after your arrival and catch some sun rays.
6. Take a day off
No matter if you are on a business trip, have to go back to work after your vacation or just want to explore the new place immediately. Take it easy! By giving your body the necessary time to recover, you will make your trip much more productive – and more fun. Or if you don’t have to work, you can follow the next tip (which promises more fun but is less relaxing).
7. Go out and have some drinks
Once you arrived at your destination, head to a great bar or nightclub, have some drinks and dance like nobody is looking. After that you probably sleep like a baby.
8. Embrace your jet lag
If nothing helps… Getting up early can also be good! For example, if you fly from Switzerland to Asia and get up really early in the morning, you can discover the world before the masses of tourists arrive.
If you don’t have to go straight to work the next day, but still wake up early, use this time too. Sort your holiday photos. Write a blog entry. Do your laundry. Go for a morning walk and watch the sun rise. Just do something. 😉
*) How good these tips are or how sensitive you are to jet lag varies greatly from person to person. Generally it depends on your fitness, your state of health and your age.
Do you have one or more tips for mastering jet lag? Let me and the other readers know by commenting on this blog entry.