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Jet Lag

Jet lag is a phenomenon that occurs when traveling east and west through time zone changes. 1 The effect causes individuals to lose sleep because of change in time schedule and sleep patterns. Jet lag only occurs when traveling east and west because when traveling north and south there are no time zone changes.

Effects of Jet Lag

Symptoms of jet lag can include confusion, daytime drowsiness, lack of alertness and trouble sleeping. Those who are extroverted, not easily stressed, exercise regularly and have a set day to day routine will likely suffer less from jet lag. 2 Traveling to a place multiple time zones away is hard on both the body and the mind, which is why being prepared for such strenuous travel is the best way to combat negative reaction.

Combating Jet Lag

Jet lag can possibly be avoided by taking simple steps to help you body and mind adjust to the new time zone:

  • Choose a flight that allows you to arrive in the early evening, and then go to bed around 10 p.m. This will help your body adjust to the new because you will most likely be tired from traveling as is and staying up for a short period of time should not be too difficult. 1
  • Plan to sit on the side of the plane opposite of the sun while you will be traveling.
  • Drink plenty of water to combat the tendency to become dehydrated due to the dryness of the cabin. 2
  • Practice stretching and walking around to increase circulation on long flights.
  • Bring earplugs or headphones to help block out noises and light that may disrupt adjusting to your destination’s time zone. You may also want to forgo the on-flight meal as it may fall at a strange time in your destination. 2
  • Be sure to ask for or bring your own pillow for the plane and hotel that may offer the comfort of home and aid in the adjustment process.
  • Prepare for jet lag. Five days before you leave, begin to preset your biological clock for your destination: if traveling east, go to bed and wake up earlier each day; if traveling west, go to bed and wake up later each day. 2
  • Change your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you get on your flight.
  • Upon arriving at your hotel set the thermostat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit and request to have a room on a high floor on the street side of the building away from the ice machine, elevators and staircase. 2
  • On your first day in your new location, you should avoid napping and push through the day. Go to bed early that night to ensure you get a full night’s sleep.
  • Do not stay indoors your first day in your new location. Daylight can help to regulate your biological clock and aid in your adjusting to the new environment. 1

Coping with Jet Lag

Taking sleeping pills or melatonin supplements can help with irregularities in sleep routine by helping you to be forcefully adjusted to your destination’s time zone. This method is proven effective, but can come with side effects of using drugs to induce sleep.

Jet lag is an uncomfortable, but manageable when the proper preparation is taken. By focusing on the concept that sleep is the most important thing and not pushing your body and mind to adjust you can rest easy and make the most of your trip.

Bibliography

1. National Sleep Foundation—Jet Lag and Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/jet-lag-and-sleep

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998. 151

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. very good tips. especially when traveling alot

    October 17, 2012
  2. need a new pillow got jet lag every night

    October 17, 2012
  3. great tips on combating jet lag. I’m printing a copy of it so I can have next time I fly across time zones

    October 17, 2012
  4. great article! jet lag can really mess you up. awesome tips! thanks much!

    October 17, 2012
  5. Great tips for helping with jet lag! Thank you!

    October 17, 2012
  6. Great, informative article.

    October 17, 2012
  7. I have had a few experiences with jet lag. The most recent being simply from the east coast to the west coast. These tips really do help! Thanks!

    October 17, 2012
  8. Love the tips I will have to try them next time

    October 17, 2012
  9. uhhh, Jet Lag is the worst! Sometimes it can take days to get into sync mode. I totally agree with the “go out side and get some sunlight” this helps me for sure! Thank you for the great informative post and helpful hints!

    October 17, 2012
  10. Isn’t it funnfy that jet lag symptoms include not being able to sleep….even when your so tired from a flight very interesting

    October 17, 2012
  11. I have had jet lag..takes a bite out of you if you don’t get the proper rest!

    October 17, 2012
  12. excellent article 🙂

    October 17, 2012
  13. It’s amazing what a good pillow can do for sleep!

    October 17, 2012
  14. Great tips! Pushing through the day always helps when I arrive at my destination, along with the excitement of being in a new place. It’s always much more difficult to reset my clock when heading home! In that case, strategic napping and/or caffeine can help a bit. But I’ve learned the hard way that you are often better off coming home a day early (e.g. if on vacation come home on Saturday) so that you have a day to re-acclimate before going full-steam again.

    October 17, 2012
  15. I have suffered jet lag for a very long time, and will always refer to this article to help make my flying experience a bit easier. Especially the tip about not staying indoors. I usually lay around the hotel room and that could be one of my biggest issues.

    October 17, 2012
  16. I find the best way to combat jet lag is to drink a lot of water on the plane

    October 17, 2012
  17. helpful

    October 17, 2012
  18. great tips on how to combat jet lag. I traveled 25 hours to Malaysia and I had a terrible jet lag when I reached there

    October 17, 2012
  19. Jet lag is so much harder coming from the west coast back to the east coast. Vegas back to TN was worse than any of the times I went to Ireland. Good article on how to prep!

    October 17, 2012
  20. Having your own pillow is possibly more important. That familiar feel under you head and neck are far more important. Strange beds and even worse strange pillows will really cause havoc on your ability to rest and get comfortable in a new place.

    October 17, 2012
  21. I love to travel but jag lag is one of those things that is so hard to avoid!! Your tips and advice is much appreciated and I will be sure to use them during my next adventure!!!

    October 17, 2012
  22. jet lag is the worst! i’m flying to cancun friday! I will certainly use these tips! thank you!

    October 17, 2012
  23. jetlag always screwes me up for days

    October 17, 2012
  24. Jet lag is indeed tough to find balance-which is key! -Bethany nelson

    October 17, 2012
  25. I don’t fly much but when I do its from west coast to east. Ill be passing this along to friends and family Thank you!

    October 17, 2012
  26. Thanks for the awesome tips!

    October 17, 2012
  27. EXCELLENT article! Thank you for sharing all of these simple steps I can take to help me adjust to time changes on future trips.

    October 17, 2012
  28. very informative tips!

    October 17, 2012
  29. Thanks for the practical suggestions!

    October 17, 2012
  30. Love this! Always wondered what the secret was to fight jet lag! Thanks sleep academy!

    October 18, 2012
  31. I flew to Indonesia and had horrible jet lag. It’s such a long trip. I love your tips.. Drinking plenty of water is so important and of course bringing your own pillow!

    October 18, 2012
  32. great tips for dealing with jet lagg

    October 23, 2012

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