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Blog > How to Prevent and Treat Jet Lag

The Arootah Return Blog

How to Prevent and Treat Jet Lag

With the predicted increase in travel in Summer 2022 comes the return of travel complications. Here’s how to prevent and combat the negative effects of jet lag.
Sleeping on plane

After two long years of COVID pandemic, many people have begun to travel again—but travel can come with its own complications. One of these is jet lag, which can disrupt your sleep patterns and impact your experience during or after a trip.

Summer 2022 is expected to be the biggest summer for travel since the start of the pandemic, and many people are going farther for longer to make up for lost time.

Travel experts are predicting more traveling abroad for Americans, specifically to Europe, which has been largely off-limits to them during most of the past two years. Other travel blogs predict that summer 2022 will be the year many people choose to take their “once in a lifetime” trips, and that the urgency to travel is peaking.

If the past two years have taught us anything though, it’s that it is vital to take care of your health while you continue to live your life. As you plan your travels, make sure you’re protecting yourself from the symptoms of jet lag.

Jet lag can really put a damper on your sleep schedule and your trip, but with some preparation, you can effectively combat the negative effects of jet lag.

What is Jet Lag?

The act of traveling itself can be incredibly stressful. Getting to the airport, going through customs, and being stuck inside a plane for several hours can take its toll on your mental health. On top of that, when you touch down in another place, your body will need time to adapt to a different time zone.

Jet lag disrupts your circadian rhythm. This internal clock typically correlates with the 24-hour cycle of day and night. When you find yourself in a new local time zone, your internal clock is out of sync with the day and night cycle in your current location.

A regulated circadian rhythm will help you get adequate sleep, and promote your physical and mental health. By disrupting this cycle, you may experience brain fog, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating.

Jet lag is typically at its worst when individuals travel east or west through three or more time zones. For people who travel frequently for work, this continuous change in time zones can take a serious toll on the body.

Jet Lag Symptoms

Here are some signs of jet lag travelers frequently experience.

  • Sleeping problems: It is more difficult to fall asleep or wake up when suffering from jet lag.
  • Impaired cognitive function: Jet lag usually impairs attention span and memory.
  • Exacerbated mental health problems: Jet lag can lead to heightened emotions such as anger and irritability; it can also exacerbate symptoms of mood disorders.
  • Stomach problems: People who suffer from jet lag may experience nausea, a reduced appetite, or symptoms of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Sleep paralysis or seizures: Jet lag could increase or induce conditions such as sleep paralysis or seizures for people who are susceptible to those conditions.

How Can You Combat the Negative Effects of Jet Lag?

Understanding jet lag early can help you avoid some of the worst effects of it or get rid of them quickly when you suffer from them.

If you’re planning to take advantage of the travel trends predicted for this summer, make sure you understand how to combat jet lag so you can enjoy your trip as much as possible.

Preventing Jet Lag

You can take some preventative measures before a trip to help reduce jet lag. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Light exposure: Strategic light exposure can help you reduce the jet lag you experience. Since light exposure is the main influencer of your circadian rhythm, look into light therapy to combat jet lag before a trip.
  • Pre-adjusting your circadian rhythm: Start adjusting your sleep schedule a couple days before a trip to offset the severity of jet lag you’re exposing yourself to.
  • Melatonin or sleep aids: Melatonin or sleep aids can help prepare your internal clock for a new time zone by helping you adjust your sleep schedule. Use these resources when your internal clock isn’t ready to sleep.

Jet Lag Treatment

During or after your trip, here’s what you can do to relieve the effects of jet lag:

  • Eat and drink strategically: Avoid alcohol and caffeine around travel times so you don’t disrupt your already tumultuous sleep schedule any further. Eat healthy food as well to make sure you don’t suffer from further digestive troubles due to travel.
  • Nap cautiously: Naps can be helpful to get your circadian rhythm to adjust to a new time zone, just keep them brief. Try not to nap less than eight hours before your new designated bedtime.
  • Exercise: Physical activity and exposure to outside light can help your body adjust to its new time zone.
  • Use a jet lag calculator: It typically takes one day for each hour your circadian rhythm needs to adjust. By using an online jet lag calculator, you can determine how long your body will need in order to fully adjust to the new time zone, and make your schedule around it.

The Bottom Line

Jet lag can really put a damper on your sleep schedule and your trip, but with some preparation, you can effectively combat the negative effects of jet lag.

2022 is a great time to get back into travel, and many people are planning to do so. Don’t let the stress of travel and jet lag on your body prevent you from experiencing new places. By being proactive, you will be well-equipped to avoid the worst effects of jet lag.

Need some guidance on creating habits that serve your life and your body? Talk to one of our life coaches today.

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherelliott/2022/05/21/heres-what-to-expect-from-the-2022-summer-travel-season/?sh=413569d2bf16

https://www.purewow.com/travel/travel-trends-summer-2022

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/21/the-biggest-2022-travel-trend-go-big-spend-big-on-bucket-list-trips.html

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/travel-and-sleep/jet-lag

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-hidden-impact-of-jet-lag-on-your-body_n_570ec6d5e4b0ffa5937e236d

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/02/study-finds-possible-new-jet-lag-treatment.html#:~:text=Short%20flashes%20of%20light%20at,circadian%20rhythms%2C%20according%20to%20researchers.&text=Jamie%20Zeitzer%20sets%20up%20a,can%20help%20prevent%20jet%20lag.

https://www.gatewaypsychiatric.com/sleep-junkie-jet-lag-calculator/

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

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