More than 90% of travelers suffer from the effects of jet lag after moving to a different time zone. But how does the time difference cause tiredness, exhaustion and sleep disorders? You can find out here what simple tips you can use to prevent jet lag, reduce the negative effects at your destination and quickly overcome your jet lag.
Table of contents
- Traveling through time
- How does jet lag occur?
- Consequences of jet lag
- The best tips against jet lag
- Further support
1. Traveling through time
Traveling is slowly becoming safer again and, especially in the summer, many people travel by plane to distant holiday destinations. The fact that long-haul flights involve crossing different time zones and we have to get used to a new day-night rhythm at the destination can put a lot of strain on our bodies. More than 90% of long-haul travelers suffer from tiredness, exhaustion or digestive difficulties in the first few days or even weeks at their destination. But where does the so-called jet lag come from?
2. How does jet lag occur?
Jet lag occurs when we travel through different time zones within a few hours and find ourselves at a completely different time of day when we arrive. Due to the time difference, the body's own circadian rhythm ("the internal clock") gets out of sync and our sleep-wake rhythm no longer corresponds to the natural course of the day in our new environment. After a quick journey to another time zone, our body initially follows its usual rhythm and needs some time to adapt to the new circumstances. This has a particularly strong impact on our sleep behavior and disrupts numerous other bodily functions such as hormone production or the regulation of important metabolic processes, body temperature and blood pressure. And this despite the fact that regeneration during sleep is extremely important for us, especially after the stress and strain of a long journey.
3. The consequences of jet lag
Our sleep particularly suffers from the sudden change in time zones, for example because the body produces sleep hormones even though it is now the middle of the day. You can find out how the hormone melatonin regulates sleep here. As a result of jet lag, we usually find it difficult to fall asleep in the evening or wake up particularly early in the morning and suffer from severe tiredness, exhaustion or mood swings during the day. But headaches, dizziness or indigestion can also occur after arriving in a new time zone. How long the symptoms last varies from person to person and also depends on the number of time zones crossed. The greater the time difference at the holiday destination, the longer the body needs to adjust.
Rule of thumb: For every hour of time difference you need about one day to adjust.
The direction of flight is also crucial. When traveling west, the day is longer, which is usually more bearable and easier for the body to process than traveling east, where the internal clock has to adapt to a “shorter” daily rhythm.
4. The best tips against jet lag
Don't worry! With a few tips you can optimally prepare for your upcoming trip and help your body quickly adapt to the new time at your vacation destination.
#1 Before departure
Adjust your sleep-wake rhythm early on
In order to reduce the time difference and make the adjustment easier for your body, you can start adjusting your day a few days before your trip - and gradually adapt your sleep rhythm to the new time zone. Before flights to the east, it is advisable to go to bed a little earlier and get up earlier, whereas before a trip to the west you can stay awake a little longer.
Note length of stay
For short stays in another time zone, it is best not to let your body get used to the new time, to avoid double jet lag. So stick to your normal daily rhythm if you only spend a few days in your destination with a time difference so that your body doesn't have to adjust again when you return.
#2 Traveling / On the Road
Avoid sleep breaks and naps
Despite boredom and tiredness on the plane, it's better to stay awake! If you take too many sleep breaks, you may reduce your need for sleep and reduce the natural tiredness that would help the body adapt to an earlier or later sleep time at your destination.
Observe a healthy and light diet
Easily digestible, protein-rich meals can be easily processed on the go and even at the destination at unusual “meal times” and also provide the body with important nutrients and energy without having to use it additionally to charge. Also make sure to drink enough fluids and avoid stimulating foods and beverages containing alcohol, caffeine and nicotine immediately before, during and after your flight.
#3 After the trip / At the destination
Adapt quickly to the new time
Even if it is difficult, at least for longer stays you should completely adapt to the new time immediately after arriving at your destination and specifically support your body in doing so. Develop a new day and sleep routine. So try to hold on until the evening despite being tired or go to bed earlier than usual depending on the time difference.
Stay active and moving
Exercise in daylight and in the fresh air gets your circulation going and not only helps against acute fatigue, but also has a positive effect on falling asleep in the evening. Daylight has a positive effect on hormone production and supports your body in the natural regulation of your sleep-wake rhythm. You can find out more about this in this article.
5. Further support against jet lag
Melatonin - secret weapon against the feeling of jet lag
As you probably already know, the sleep hormone melatonin is an important regulator of our sleep-wake rhythm and is already known as an effective means of supporting the process of falling asleep. Scientific studies also show that our “internal clock” can adapt more quickly to a new time zone when we also take melatonin. A dietary supplement with melatonin can therefore reduce the effects of jet lag when traveling through different time zones and help your body quickly get used to the new time. We have summarized for you here how melatonin can be used as a dietary supplement.
For example, our SLEEP SPRAY with melatonin, lemon balm and passion flower extract is ideal for on the go and works quickly.
Attention! While melatonin has a natural effect as the body's own hormone, you should especially avoid chemical sleeping pills on long journeys, as these influence sleep in an unnatural way and further disrupt the natural sleep rhythm.
- Jet lag occurs when we travel through different time zones and the internal clock becomes unbalanced.
- The consequences of jet lag range from tiredness, exhaustion and mood swings to headaches, dizziness or indigestion.
- Before the trip: Before you start your journey, gradually adapt your daily rhythm to the time of your destination.
- On the go: Avoid frequent sleep breaks and eat an easily digestible, healthy diet with sufficient fluid intake.
- At a travel destination with a time difference: follow the new time directly and spend a lot of time in the fresh air to support natural sleep.
- With an additional intake of melatonin, the internal clock can adapt more quickly to a new time zone.