Jet Lag: What Is It And How Can You Avoid It?

Have you ever experienced the insane groggy feeling that you get when you have been travelling?

Not only do you feel dazed and sleep derived, but you may also feel a little bit disorientated, and any activity asked of you requiring even just the smallest amount of concentration and energy feels like the biggest ask in the world!

If you’ve ever been on a long haul flight or just generally had to travel across different time zones, then you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about and this feeling won’t be unfamiliar to you!

However even though it feels like your body is giving up on you, what you’re experiencing is the very common effects of jet lag.

Also known as time zone change syndrome, desynchronosis and flight fatigue, jet lag is a physiological condition which disrupts our bodies circadian rhythm which we get when we have been travelling from West to East and vice versa on a jet plane.

 

Causes

Even if you manage to get a few hours’ kip on the plane you might be wondering why you are still feeling absolutely exhausted, which might appear particularly ludicrous if you have just spent the last week lying on a beach and soaking up the sun!

The main cause of jet lag is the bodies inability to quickly adjust to a different time zone.

When you’re abroad somewhere you’ve probably looked at your watch and remarked on the fact that it’s only morning back home right? Well until your body has had time to adjust to the new schedule.

As you’ll know, the world is divided into 24 different time zones, and as your body’s natural 24-hour clock controls your 24-hour circadian rhythms, this will be disrupted when you’ve been travelling across different time zones.

More severe jet lag usually occurs when crossing from seven to twelve time zones rather from three to six time zones. If you’ve travelled to Australia from the UK then the chances are that you’ll be more jet-lagged than if you’re travelling from the UK to Spain!

 

Symptoms

Jet lag can affect people of all ages and its symptoms tend to vary depending on the individual and how far you have travelled.

However apart from feeling massively fatigued and sleepy, what are some of the other symptoms of jet lag?

Have you ever felt a bit irritable or anxious? This is another common feature of jet-lag, along with dehydration, confusion, constipation, headaches, nausea, sweating and even memory loss.

If you want to read up on the symptoms of jet lag then head to the NHS Choices page where you can find out more on how jet lag may affect your circadian rhythm.

 

Jet Lag Prevention Hacks

Even before you step on the plane, there a number of tips which can you try which will help your body prepare for the changing time zone.

When you’re in the planning stages of booking your holiday, try and choose a flight time which lands you at your destination in the morning or in the afternoon. You’ll be more likely to stay awake during the day and then bag yourself a good night’s sleep in the evening.

However, going back to before you have left the country, if you tend to have a very strict schedule of when you come in from work, have your dinner and then go to bed at the same time every evening, you’ll probably find adapting to the new time zone pretty difficult. Try and be more flexible by mixing up up your schedule a little, and perhaps wake up at different times.

When it comes to the night before you go away, make sure that you aren’t up late last minute packing and making arrangements! Make sure you get a restful night’s sleep so that your body is full restored for you going away.

To help give you best chance of a good night’s sleep, it’s important to make sure that you are sleeping on the right pillows, and if you do prefer to sleep with a particular type of pillow, then don’t forget to take it away with you on your travels! You can take a look at our wide ranging pillow collection here.

You could even try and change your sleeping pattern by altering it to the time of your destination. Although you might not fancy leaving your cosy bed and getting up at 4am to start your day, you could get up, go and make yourself a drink, read a magazine and then go back to bed.

 

During The Flight

As you’ve already seen, dehydration is one of the symptoms of jet lag, therefore make sure you keep hydrated during the flight, but avoid opting for alcohol, caffeine or drinks which are high in sugar as these only disturb sleep and may worsen jet lag symptoms.

Whilst on the flight, change your watch to the new time zone you’ll be landing in so that your mind and gradually body begin to get used to the new zone.

 

During Your Stay

Once you have arrived at your destination, try and spend as much time outside as you can. This will help your body to adjust to the new surroundings and time zone by altering its natural body clock which is affected by daylight.

In the evening, try to avoid getting into bed as soon as your reach your destination unless you have arrived at night. Even though you might feel exhausted from the days’ excursion, it’s important that you try and get as much sleep in 24 hours as you would normally when you were back at home.

We hope you’ve found these sleep hacks on how to beat jet lag useful, but if you want to read more then make sure you to check out Skyscanner’s 15 tips for beating timezone tiredness here.