Traveling far across different time zones, you may need to have a few days to adapt to the time difference. But a vicious cycle may follow after you return home as you have to revert back to your everyday routine.
In this post, let’s look into what causes this phenomenon called jet lag—we’ll cover topics such as its common symptoms and how you can cope with it. Let’s take a look at what exactly jet lag is and what causes it, shall we?
What is jet lag?
Time difference is caused by the difference in time zones between where you live and your travel destination. Jet lag is a medical term to refer to such problems. To be precise, it refers to a medical condition which causes problems with sleep and day-time activities if you move too quickly without enough time for your circadian clock to adapt.
Now, what does a circadian clock mean? There is a part of our brain that pushes us to go to sleep at night and get up in the morning. The suprachiasmatic nucleus helps us to maintain the circadian rhythm and serves as an “in-body clock”.
If there is a five to six-hour time gap, it makes it difficult for us to adapt as the circadian clock recognized by your brain deviates from the actual time in your destination. It is known that jet lag occurs in such conditions.
Here’s how you can get over jet lag!
A wider time difference lead to changes in our body rhythm and various symptoms in our body. Most notably, you may find it difficult to go to sleep at night and function normally during the day. Thus, your day and night are completely switched when you travel far away.
In addition, you may find it harder to digest and concentrate, have a headache or dizziness, and experience difficulties in daily activities of living. So, wouldn’t it be nice to be prepared for jet lag? Let’s take a look at how you can prepare in different situations.
1. Control your circadian rhythm before departure
If you understand your circadian rhythm, it helps to adapt to time difference. Our body’s sleep rhythm—how you go to sleep and get up based on your circadian rhythm—is 25 hours, 1 hour longer than a day. If you travel west from Korea, your day gets longer, which makes it easier for your circadian clock to adapt. But if you travel east, it may cause some difficulties in your circadian rhythm. If you understand how your sleep rhythm works, it helps you to adjust.
If you travel west from Korea, it might be helpful to get up an hour early starting three days before your travel. By contrast, getting up an hour late would help you to adjust better if you travel east. It’s like preparing your body slowly before your travel.
2. Rest aboard
You may also adapt your body aboard your airplane. If you are flying during the middle of night based on your destination’s time, it would be better to get some sleep. If it is the day time, it would be helpful to not to go to sleep. If you arrive at your destination with your body accustomed to its time, it helps you to adapt early.
Hydrating yourself aboard and resting in the right posture are also greatly helpful. One of the biggest reasons for fatigue is dehydration. In particular, it is very dry inside the airplane where air pressure is low and there is not enough oxygen. It would be good to drink water as often as possible and hydrate yourself. Furthermore, sleeping for a long time in the wrong posture may also make you feel more tired. So, take a short nap several times to rest.
3. Prepare for deep sleep at your destination
It is helpful to get some sunlight during the morning once you arrive at your destination. It helps you to readjust your circadian clock. Furthermore, outdoor activity during the day encourages good sleep at night. The release of the sleep hormone melatonin is stopped when there is light or physical activity.
So, high-protein and high-carb meals are also one of the best ways to cope with time difference. Food high in protein such as meat, egg, bean, or milk provide physical energy while food high in carbohydrate such as bread, fruit, or vegetable may encourage deep sleep. A good solution would be to eat food rich in protein during the day and food rich in carbohydrate during the evening. However, note that coffee or alcohol may interfere with your sleep.
Additionally, you can have food supplements such as red ginseng, vitamin, or aloe. They also help to replenish your tired body and mind. What about taking some red ginseng, which helps to restore strength and restore energy, or multi-vitamin pills, which helps to prevent deterioration in your immune system? Another option is to eat various healthy foods to overcome digestive problems during a long flight.
4. Revert back to your circadian rhythm after arrival
It takes our body seven to eight days to completely adapt to time difference. Because our circadian clock adjusts one hour per day to local time. When you come back to Korea after adjusting your body to your travel destination, you have to adjust again to the local Korean time.
To reduce physical fatigue and side effects, it would be better to avoid taking sleeping pills. It is important to eat regularly even if you don’t want to eat and make efforts to get up on time even if you have bad sleep. It will help you to recover quickly when you return to Korea.
Today, we have looked at jet lag and how to adapt to time difference more quickly. Whether it is business trip or tourism, your circadian rhythm will be altered if you travel far away. Simple tips as described above will help you to overcome jet lag and adjust to the new place.