You will agree with me if I said that while travelling to different countries for work or pleasure is very much fun, there is one big downside to it that takes a toll on your health, isn’t it? I am hoping you are well versed with what I am talking about. If not, know that I am talking about Jet lag. That complete alteration in the body clock can be very taxing. While the remedies for jet lag are not that tough to adhere to, it is mainly a few tweaks and changes in one’s overall lifestyle.
Jet lag can be very strenuous and a lot taxing not just on one’s physical but mental health as well. Fatigue and consistent tiredness because of lack of sleep is possibly the common side effects that one witnesses and experiences.
In this article, we are going to be walking ourselves through some of the common jet lag remedies that you can try to prevent jet lag while on a trip overseas.
What is Jet lag?
Before we jump right into explaining what a jet lag is and how it’s caused and what can be done to effectively prevent it, let us start with the basics, shall we?
Our body’s entire sleep cycle is completely dependent on our body’s circadian rhythm which is controlled by the functions of the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
Below, you will find the complete pie diagram and division included in the circadian rhythm for you to understand better how our body works.
Now, coming onto Jet lag.
When we travel trans-meridian and to a different time zone, it is most likely that our body’s circadian rhythm is very slow to adjust to the abrupt change and tends to prefer to stay on the original biological schedule for quite a few days after one reaches their destinations.
This slow adjustment to the altered time zones end up affecting the body’s sleep cycle, making people fall asleep in odd times of the new time zone. The entire experience is what one describes as the phenomenon of jet lag.
What Causes Jet lag?
Now, when it comes to the reasons behind jet lag, it is not a much unknown factor that the primal reason include the issues with the disturbances caused to the circadian rhythm of the body which is what ends up causing the alterations in the sleep schedules.
There are majority of people who often tend to blame the dehydration, stress of overseas flying as well lack of proper sleep during the flight and while these can definitely be some of the accessory contributing factors, it is much more than just that.
The misaligned circadian rhythm is possibly the primary cause behind the jet lag. It is primarily because the adjustment to a new time zone definitely does take quite a good chunk of time and in the meanwhile when the body’s biological clock is indicating that it’s time to sleep, it is possibly bright sunny outside. This ends up in you either taking a long daytime nap which prevents you from getting a proper night’s sleep at night.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the body which is responsible for the maintenance of our body’s biological clock and the gene Lhx1 is the one responsible for the activity concerning our body clock and circadian rhythms. Any kind of disruption in their routine is what ends up causing and inducing jet lag in an individual.
How to Get Over Jet Lag?
Now, this is possibly the section of the article that majority of the people have been looking forward to. If you are a businessman, frequent travelling to different parts of the world might not be a very uncommon stance which is why it is best to keep these tips and tricks to beat jet lag up your sleeve to overcome the consequences effectively the next time it hits you.
1. Ground Yourself – Earthing
The concept of earthing (R) is one of the most common and effective jet lag remedies that one can opt for. Apart from the misaligned circadian rhythm, yet another factor that plays a crucial factor in the process of inducing jet lag is because of the buildup of the excess positive ions in the body during the flight or air travel.
Earthing (R) or grounding yourself, or in simple terms, standing on the ground barefoot is an amazing way to get rid of those positive ions in the body which often impact the body negatively. The Earth consists of a negative charge which is very effective in neutralizing the excess positive charge in the body and helps prevent any kind of damage to the body.
Try and go for a walk without the shoes, it might help.
2. Sunlight Exposure
Getting an ample amount of exposure to natural light during the day is an amazing way to attune the body clock back (R) to normal and adjust the circadian rhythms to the current time zones.
The disrupted light cycles contribute as one of the primary reasons behind the affected sleep cycles in an individual, so when your body is exposed to sunlight, our body gets signals conforming the light/dark cycle. The morning and the exposure to sunlight help align the body clock and help you get that much-coveted sleep at night that you have been dreading.
If you land in a different country in the morning, try and soak in as much fun as you can, even though the eyes. Avoid using any kind of sunglasses in this process and you will see the results right in a day or two.
Read More Health Benefits of Sun Light Exposure
3. Ubiquinol to the Rescue
When we travel in the air for extended periods of time, our body is not just exposed to a lot of stress but also undergoes ample exposure to radiation of altitude. These end contributing the excess of free radicals in the body which adversely affect the healthy cells in the body and end up making you feel tired and drowsy.
Ubiquinol is an amazing free radical scavenger which helps and boosts the functions of the mitochondria in the body. It is very effective in combating the impending stress in the body and helps boost the energy levels. Try and consume nothing more than 200 mg of Ubiquinol capsules after a flight.
4. A Relaxing Spa Experience
Stiff and taut muscles along with the expediting stress are often the primary causes behind the symptoms associated with jet lag. If you are in for a soothing experience, try and find a spa or even a sauna nearby and that should help you get rid of these secondary symptoms of jet lag effectively.
There are limited or no specific research that scientifically backs these claims up but normal instincts should be more than enough for you to understand how effective these tactics are to get rid of the said signs and symptoms associated with the altered sleep cycles.
5. Cold Soaks Help too
Many travel experts often emphasise on the alternative hot and cold exposure as a remedy to overcome jet lag (R). Spend 10-15 minutes in a sauna and alternate that with 5 minutes of a cold shower or a swim in the pool. Do this in sets of 3.
If you can’t source any kind of sauna close by, a cold soak is helpful nevertheless. When you plunge yourself into the sea or just a pool by your hotel, it helps wash away the stress and helps provide you with a breath of fresh energy which is very beneficial to prevent jet lag or at least get rid of it quickly.
6. Hang Yourself Upside Down
Before any of the readers of this article think that I have gone crazy, let me explain it out properly. When we are constricted to flights for a longer period of time, there are possibilities of formation of blood clots in the body which often proves deadly for a number of people.
These kinds of restricted blood circulation often times end up making us tired and morbid post-flight. Try and walk around to normalize the blood flow throughout the body. One of the best ways to prevent any signs of blood pooling is to hang upside down (R), much like how one would do a headstand.
7. Compression or Massage
The lack of proper oxygen levels along with nutrients in the body is the primary determinant of our body functions. Any form of massage is very beneficial in boosting the overall blood circulation of the body, which in turn, helps in delivering oxygen to all the parts of the body.
Not just that, even compression to the lower half of the body (R) where the blood is mostly accumulated in help in getting rid of signs of blood pooling and even helps in revitalizing the body (R) to effectively overcome jet lag.
8. Reduce Blue Light Exposure At Night
Often times, it is witnessed that the excess exposure to blue light sources during the night time adversely affects one sleep cycle. When you are already jet-lagged, the last thing you want is to aggravate the situation even further.
Blue light exposure (R) sends mixed and wrong signals to the brain making it think its day which is what ends up affecting the normal secretion of melatonin. The lowered levels of melatonin in the body is what ends up making you stay up at night and prevent the normal sleeping cycles.
9. Hyperbaric Chamber
This is one of the most difficult ones to source and is often on the expensive side of the remedies for jet lag which is why it is optional, if you find one and if you can afford the same.
Apart from the altered impacts on the circadian rhythm, the continued flying and journey in higher altitudes often tend to impact the body because of the oxygen deprivation (R) in the body. The reduced levels of oxygen in the body oftentimes end up being the reason behind the lowered secretion of melatonin in the body (R) which is responsible for a systematic sleep cycle.
An exposure of 30-60 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber helps normalize the levels of oxygen in the body which is what acts as an amazing treatment for jet lag.
10. DHA Rich Seafood
DHA makes up as a very crucial component for the important part of the cell membrane. If you didn’t know any better, Docosahexaenoic acid, otherwise commonly known as DHA, is the amazing omega-3 fatty acid which is found in the shellfishes and other forms of cold-water fish.
Lack of DHA in the cell membrane (R) often ends in gradual disruption of the healthy cells which is what induces fatigue and prevents a proper sleep cycle. While you can opt for the fish oil capsules for a convenient remedy to beat jet lag, it oftentimes oxidizes very quickly.
Instead, just grab the menu of the nearest seafood restaurant and gorge down some delicious seafood to replenish the levels of reduced DHA.
11. Time your Carbohydrate Intake
Try and avoid eating any form of carbohydrate until the evening time in the time zone you are in. Consumption of carbohydrates during dinner (R) actually does help boost the secretion of serotonin (precursor of melatonin) which helps align the circadian rhythm and hence the sleep.
Stead insulin levels during the night help in the maintenance of proper levels of growth hormone as well as leptin, both of which have beneficial impacts in helping prevent jet lag.
12. Time Your Coffee Intake
Coffee and any form of caffeine, for that matter, will seem very enticing when you are drooling and feeling drowsy in the wrong time of the day but trust me, it does no good as being one of the remedies for jet lag.
While there are downsides, there are positive impacts to it as well. Coffee or caffeine (R) is a potent adenosine blocker (R) which is considered as one of the most important homeostatic regulators of sleep. So, if you have been trying to overcome the tiredness, a quick shot of espresso can do the trick for you and realign the sleep cycle as per the local time zone that you are in.
13. Try the Re-Timer Glasses
If you are a frequent overseas flyer, having a pair of re-timer glasses with you can actually be very handy and useful. These unique yet very effective glasses can actually help realign your circadian rhythm to help you overcome jet lag.
The re-timer glasses actually do help in emitting green light into the eyes which is what helps in adjusting the sleep cycles back to normal. Majority of the experts suggest wearing the re-timer glasses in the evening to help adjust and realign the sleeping patterns and adjust the same to the time zone you are currently in.
14. Melatonin Supplements
Supplements are much like the last resort and it is always best to align the normal recovery of the circadian rhythm naturally for effective and long term benefits. That being said, it is also beneficial to not blindly rely on the melatonin supplements for getting the required sleep and should be restricted only to short periods of time.
Consume 1-3 mg of melatonin supplement (R) before bed and do that for the first 1-2 days to help get the circadian rhythms aligned to the current time zone and don’t solely rely on it.
15. Anchor Sleep And Short Naps
Anchor sleep (R) is the duration of sleep during the night, a minimum of 4 hours, which helps anchor the person to the normal grounds of sanity and entrains their circadian rhythm and helps relieve the stress after a long flight journey.
The worst side effect concerning jet lag is the lack of sleep and while the 4 hours of anchor sleep during the night is not even close to being enough for the body, it is best to sneak in a few power naps throughout the day to make up for the lack of sleep at night.
16. Avoid Drinking Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol and any other form of stimulant is not a very good option for someone who is trying to get their circadian rhythm of the body back to normal. Consumption of alcohol (R) tends to confuse the body even further which is definitely not something likely for you to opt for if you want effective remedies for jet lag.
Once you have overcome jet lag, then indulge in a bit of alcohol here and there but with the already affected circadian rhythm (R) and jumbled sleep cycle, it is best to stay wary of it for the time being.
17. Eat Light Meals
One of the easiest ways to help combat the taxing feeling because of jet lag is by eating some light and healthy at the same time. Don’t start gorging down greasy and heavy right off the bat and indulge in something light and healthy till the biological clock of the body is back to normal.
And yet another important thing is to ensure that you are eating complete meals all throughout the day and not skipping on them.
18. Get a Good Night’s Sleep the Night Before Flying
Majority of the travellers either skip on a good night’s sleep because of the increased levels of excitement or sometimes even because they want to sleep throughout their flight journey. This is where the majority of people tend to go wrong.
Any kind of last-minute changes to the sleep cycle from the normal norms ends up adversely affecting the overall circadian rhythm, which, in turn, induces jet lag. Getting a proper night’s sleep the day before actually does help in making you better equipped to handle the jet lag that you are about to experience.
19. Get Some Exercise
The form of exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be anything over the top, even just a simple 10-20 minute jog can be very beneficial to keep the blood flowing throughout the body which will help in keeping you feeling rejuvenated and fresh even with the waft of jet lag accompanying the situation.
Exercise also helps boost the levels of endorphins in the body which is an added bonus to helping with the array of other jet lag remedies.
20. Do nothing!
Now, this specific is one of those remedies for jet lag if you are staying in the new time zone for a day or two. The main reason for this is because once you attune and adjust your circadian rhythm to the new timezone, it will take you time to again readjust it back to your original body clock as per the original time zones.
So, if it is for a day or two don’t indulge in anything and just go with the flow because it becomes harder to beat jet lag when you get home again.
How Long Does Jet Lag Last?
One of the most common questions that the majority of people want to know about jet lag is how long it affects the person.
Now, to clarify, jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder and nothing permanent.
When it comes to aspects regarding how long a common jet lag lasts, it completely depends on how many time zones the person has crossed.
It is believed that it takes our body one day to adjust to one timezone, so, if you have crossed 4 timezones, it is most likely going to take you 4-5 days to completely overcome jet lag and feel better about the situation.
The remedies for jet lag are actually effective and can help you source out unnecessary tiredness and fatigue. So, if you are on a trip overseas and plan on staying there for a good fraction of time, it is best to try your hands on any of these above mentioned remedies and the rest shall be sorted for you.