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After a difficult few years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are finally flying around the globe again; Families are reunited and sights are seen.
But the joys of international travel often come with a side of jet lag, which can make it difficult to enjoy the holiday and settle down when you return.
Why do people suffer from jet lag? And is there anything you can do to lessen the impact?
The term “jet lag” describes the physical and cognitive symptoms people experience when traveling rapidly across multiple time zones.
Before you set off on a journey, you will be synchronized with your local time. As soon as you enter a new time zone, your body rhythm no longer aligns with the clock on the wall.
Then the jet lag symptoms apply. You are sleepy when you want to be awake and wide awake when you want to sleep. You get hungry in the middle of the night and you may feel bloated or nauseous when you eat during the day.
Until your internal clock and all the rhythms it controls match the new local time, you are physiologically and mentally confused. No happy holiday mood!
Interestingly, the experience of jet lag varies from person to person. This is because we all tick to our own inner rhythm.
Most of us have a natural daily cycle of around 24.2 hours. So if we lived in a cave and didn’t see any light, our sleep-wake cycle and other circadian rhythms would be ticking at around 24.2 hours. Researchers believe this is an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to adapt to different day lengths throughout the year.
But some people have slightly longer cycles than others, and this can play a role in how a person experiences jet lag.
Research suggests that if you have a longer cycle, you may adjust faster to trips west, e.g. B. if you travel from Australia to South Africa, but we don’t know if a shorter cycle helps to go the other way.
As we age, we also become a little less resilient, so the older among us may have worse jet lag symptoms.
In general, many people find traveling to the West, where you “buy” time, a little easier.
Suppose Jasmine and Sarah leave Adelaide at the same time. Jasmine lands in Perth in the afternoon, which is around 2.5 hours earlier in the day. She sees some sights and easily falls asleep around 8:30pm local time. She then wakes up very early and starts her day.
Since Jasmine’s internal clock is inherently delayed – it shifts slightly later each day relative to local time – it will be fully synchronized after a few days.
Sarah, meanwhile, lands in Auckland, which is about 2.5 hours later in the day. She takes advantage of the mild evening and part of the night and is wide awake until 2am. Then she drags herself out of bed when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m. because it’s still 4:30 a.m. on her internal clock.
Sarah will likely feel the effects of jet lag more severely and for longer than Jasmine.
Some people might wonder if jet lag is just in your head. Well, in a way, it’s because it’s a discrepancy between your body’s internal time (determined in your brain) and your local time.
But that doesn’t mean you can talk your way out of jet lag. It is better viewed as a physiological condition rather than a psychological one.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways to relieve jet lag symptoms and help your body clock adjust. This is especially important for elite athletes traveling to competitions.
1. First decide whether it is worth adapting to the new times or not. If it’s just a short trip, it may make more sense to stick to your home time. If it lasts longer than three days, start consciously shifting your own rhythms—like sleeping, eating, exercising, and sunlight—towards the new time zone.
2. If you’re trying to reset your body clock, it’s a good idea to start on the plane. Set your watch to the time zone of your travel destination and plan your activities accordingly.
3. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption while traveling. This is better for sleep and hydration, and helps adjust your internal clock to the new time zone.
4. When adjusting to a new time zone, try to sleep during the local night time and just get rest when you need it at other times. Short naps can give you a boost to get you through the day and evening activities. Aim for about 30 minutes and avoid naps later in the day as you get closer to your actual planned bedtime.
5. Gastrointestinal discomfort is a symptom of jet lag. If you’re prone to or suffer from stomach upset when traveling, stick to small meals and eat when you’re hungry. Your body will tell you when it’s ready to eat. Tip 3 on caffeine and alcohol applies here as well.
6. Go outside. Sunlight is the key to adjusting to a new time zone. Depending on your time zone change, appropriately timed outdoor activities will help.
If that’s not enough, the Sleep Health Foundation has more tips Here.
Source : www.cnn.com