Jet lag is a physiological condition that can affect anyone who travels across multiple time zones, causing fatigue, irritability, upset stomach, and brain fog.
In this article, we explain why jet lag occurs and show you the best ways to ease its symptoms.
What Is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is the disruption of the natural circadian rhythm that occurs when you travel across time zones. Most people are affected by jet lag after crossing three time zones or more.
Besides interrupting the function of your biological clock, there are several other factors that may cause you to experience jet lag. Dehydration which is due to low humidity levels in airplanes contributes to common jet lag symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and dizziness. Research shows that changes in cabin pressure and high altitudes may also lead to developing jet lag symptoms, even when you’re not traveling across time zones.
Jet lag symptoms
The most common symptoms of jet lag include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Poor sleep quality
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Digestive issues, and
- Loss of appetite.
Jet lag symptoms are likely to be worse and last longer the more time zones you cross, especially if you travel from west to east. Jet lag doesn’t occur on north-south flights where you’re not crossing time zones. Your susceptibility to jet lag also depends on your age, health, fitness level, and how frequently you travel.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Jet Lag?
It usually takes about a day to recover for each time zone you cross. For example, if you change five time zones, you’re likely to experience jet lag symptoms for five days.
Jet lag is a short-term problem that goes away once your body’s circadian rhythm has adjusted to the local time. For people who frequently fly long-distance, such as business travelers, pilots, and flight attendants, jet lag can become a chronic problem. If your jet lag symptoms don’t go away after a week or two, consult your physician as this could be a sign of another condition.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce jet lag symptoms. Let’s take a closer look.
What Are the Best Cures for Jet Lag?
Although jet lag is temporary, you may be looking for ways to improve sleep quality and increase your energy levels after a long flight. Sleep medications and IV therapy are among the best ways to ensure a fast recovery from jet lag.
Your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills such as eszopiclone (Lunesta), zolpidem (Ambien), temazepam (Restoril), or midazolam (Nayzilam) to help you rest when you reach your destination and avoid sleep deprivation as you adjust to the new time zone. Side effects of these medications are uncommon, but may include morning sleepiness, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sleepwalking, and confusion.
IV therapy effectively prevents and reverses the effects of jet lag and is beneficial both before and after traveling. Because the nutrients bypass the digestive system and enter directly into your bloodstream, you will feel better in just a few hours, rather than having to wait for days for your body to adjust.
At Reset IV, we create customized solutions that contain all the fluids and vitamins you need to recover after crossing several time zones. Our Jet Lag Package contains normal saline (a mixture of water and sodium chloride) to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air, anti-inflammatory medication to decrease swelling and pain, multivitamin, and B-complex vitamins combined with electrolytes to reduce stress and combat fatigue.
In addition, some simple home remedies can also help you manage your jet lag symptoms.
Home Remedies for Jet Lag
The key to minimizing jet lag symptoms is to synchronize your biological clock with your destination’s time zone. Here’s what you can do to help your body recover faster.
One of the reasons jet lag interrupts your circadian rhythm is the change in your exposure to light when you travel between time zones. Exposing yourself to sunlight is a powerful way to adjust your circadian rhythms and cure jet lag. It can help you wake up and reduce the release of melatonin hormones that make you sleepy. Keep in mind, however, that timing is crucial, and exposing yourself to light at the wrong time could shift your circadian clock in the wrong direction.
If your access to natural light is limited, light therapy lamps, also known as lightboxes, can provide bright light exposure to help your body reset its internal clock.
Minimize caffeine consumption when traveling across time zones. You should try to avoid coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate as caffeine can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and cause dehydration which can make jet lag symptoms even worse. Drinking plenty of water, juice, or herbal teas will help your body stay energized and hydrated and lead to a faster recovery.
Avoid greasy foods
To avoid increased gas, belly bloating, and other digestive issues, it is advisable to stay away from greasy foods while traveling. Make sure to eat light meals and healthy snacks such as energy bites, fruit, and vegetables.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that governs your circadian rhythm and makes you feel sleepy. Prescription medication containing melatonin and melatonin supplements can help your body reset its internal clock and recover from jet lag faster. Always talk to your doctor before taking melatonin, as supplementation is not recommended for everyone.
Studies have shown that moderate exercise is an effective way to restore your body’s circadian rhythms and adjust to a new time zone. Upon arrival at your destination, outdoor exercise will provide the added benefit of sunlight exposure.