How To Minimise Jet Lag

Morning all, 

This weeks #TrainingTips post is all about something I have been slightly suffering with this week after getting back from Mexico, JET LAG!

Some people really suffer with the after effects of traveling long distances and getting their body clocks to adjust to the time zone changes.  Bupa suggests that it can take up to 14 days to recover from the effects of jet lag and the speed in which you recover can be a very personal thing.  However, some scientists do suggest that it take one full day to recover for every hour in time difference change.  Now I’m not being funny but if like me you’ve just enjoyed 2 weeks of a relaxing holiday, the thought of coming back and struggling for the same period it’s taken me to feel refreshed and revitalised is not very appealing, is it?  Before I traveled I took the time to do some research into the differing methods of reducing the effects of jet lag and from my own personal recovery this week, which has really only been slightly inconvenient, so I thought I would share what I found.

 

First of all what is jet lag?

Jet lag is a genuine physiological phenomenon which originates in the nerve cells of the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus is a region of the brain which regulates the bodies temperature, sleep, appetite, hunger and circadian rhythm.  Now it’s your circadian rhythm that is you natural body clock, which is governed by daylight and controls when you feel sleepy and active.  So when you’re traveling across time zones it’s this circadian rhythm which becomes out of sync and causes the symptoms of jet lag which may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disorientation
  • Reduced concentration
  • Reduced aerobic fitness
  • Reduced anaerobic fitness
  • Nausea
  • GI distress
  • Joint swelling and stiffness
  • Muscle pain and stiffness

Strangely the direction you travel has an effect on the severity of your jet lag too.  It appears that the body copes better traveling west than it does east, or in other words the body is better at delaying the body clock than speeding it up.  I’ve definitely felt this, going out it took me 1 day to adjust, coming back it’s taken me 3-4 days to feel fully back to normal.

 

So how to reduce the effects?

 

There is no one perfect solution but these helped me.

Pre-adjust to your new time zone.

If you’re going to be spending more than 3 days in your destination start to adjust your waking and sleeping patterns 3-4 days out from your travel.  You can do this by adjusting your wake and sleep cycle as close to your destination time as possible, start by checking if your destination is either ahead or behind your current time and then adjusting your sleeping and waking cycle by an hour every day.

 

Get in the light.

Get as much natural light exposure as possible by getting outside or get next to a window.  This helps your body clock adjust quicker.

 

Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Consuming alcohol and caffeine thinking it will help you nod off on the plane will actually disrupt the quality of your sleep and cause dehydration.  If you do make sure it’s only a small one and couple of hours out from your flight.

 

Avoid napping.

After a long flight and when you finally arrive at your hotel room having a nap may seem the most intelligent thing to do.  But try to avoid it, try to adjust yourself into the new time zone you’re in, it may be hard to keep your eyes open, so get out side and start moving, this will get your body into your new zone quicker.  If you really feel a nap is best and you’re a regular napper, only nap for 30-40 minutes. 

 

Stay hydrated and fast.

Maintaining a good hydration status consider fasting.  I have to admit I did keep well hydrated but I didn’t try the fasting, going to try that next time.  But anyway staying hydrated maintains mental focus and helps regulate your body temperature.  As for the fast an article by Precision Nutrition suggested last on long haul flight fasting between 14-24 hours can reduce jet.  They advise eating normally before your flight then fast during your flight and then eat as close to normal time as you can in your new time zone, this was my plan but when they came round with food I couldn’t help myself, whoops.

How To Minimise Jet Lag

Image Source: http://blog.vendoservices.com/vendo-blog/2015/07/20/2015720fighting-jet-lagand-winning-sometimes

Give it a go next time you’re on a long haul flight if you do suffer with jet lag, it certainly helped me adjust quickly.

 

Have a great weekend guys.

 

 

Stay strong and live, love and laugh!

Dan

#1CoachDC

#FitFam

 

References 

Bupa. (2015) [online], http://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/j/jetlag (Accessed 13 September 2015).

National Sleep Foundation (2015) [online], https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/jet-lag-and-sleep (Accessed 13 September 2015).

NHS (2015) [online], http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/jet-lag/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Accessed 13 September 2015).

Precision Nutrition (2015) [online], http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-jet-lag (Accessed 13 September 2015).

 

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