The Best Ways to Get Over Jet Lag

Jet lag occurs when your body’s usual rhythm is thrown out of sync by travelling across time zones. Your body will eventually get used to its new time zone, but there are things you can do to help you adjust quickly and minimise jet lag symptoms. The severity and duration of jet lag vary from person to person, depending on the trip itinerary and other individual factors.

There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your destination and discovering that you can’t enjoy it because you’re jet-lagged out. But don’t worry; there are a few easy things you can do to get the most out of your trip while feeling jet lagged.

  • Light exposure

The most significant impact on circadian rhythm is natural light, which has the most influence. It is because the brain interprets even faint sunlight as a signal and uses it to adjust our internal clock. So, depending on how far you’ve travelled and when you land, avoiding light as soon as possible is preferable and then gradually exposing yourself to more sunlight throughout the day.

Artificial light affects our daily rhythm, and electronic screens have a more suppressing effect on melatonin than any other type of light. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate when we are awake and when we sleep. Therefore, to avoid jet lag, limiting screen time before bed and using dim lighting in the evening would be most beneficial.

  • Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone produced by the body. Melatonin production usually begins in the evenings, around the time of bedtime. Melatonin has two primary functions: helping to start sleep and maintaining circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal process that manages various bodily tasks throughout the day. 

If this daily pattern is interrupted, it can cause problems with sleeping. Jet lag is one example of a condition that throws off the circadian rhythm.

In the case of a delayed sleep cycle, you may consider using melatonin to help you sleep.

Melatonin is considered to be relatively safe. However, certain side effects may occur, such as headache and nausea. 

Note: Don’t take more than 5 mg of melatonin simultaneously to avoid unwanted side effects.

  • Realigning your circadian rhythm

If you’re travelling east, you’re more likely to experience jet lag. It is because your body’s internal clock needs to adjust to the new time zone. The best way to overcome jet lag is to get your body’s 24-hour clock synchronised with the 24-hour day at your destination. It varies, however, depending on factors specific to your trip, such as:

  • The number of time zones crossed
  • Total travel time, including stop-overs
  • Flight arrival time
  • Length of your trip (including subsequent flights)
  • Your normal sleep schedules 
  • Plans during your trip.

Once you arrive at your destination, don’t immediately go to bed or start staying up all night. Instead, gradually adjust your sleep schedule to align with the local time.

  • Get plenty of rest before your trip

Jet lag will be more challenging to cope with if you’re already tired from a lack of sleep. So make sure you get a good night’s sleep before your flight.

  • Move around regularly

Getting up and moving around every few hours will help keep your body clock in sync and prevent you from feeling too sluggish. For example, take a walk around the airport or do some stretching exercises in your seat.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to jet lag, but there are some strategies that can help minimise its effects. One of the most important things you can do is to adjust gradually to the new time zone before your trip. It means progressively shifting your sleep schedule and meals to match the time at your destination.