Do you often feel tired and out of sorts after long flights? If so, you're not alone. Millions of people suffer from jet lag every year, and the duration of it can vary from person to person. The good news is you don't have to suffer from it forever, as there are many ways to get relief. Here, we will discuss what you need to know about it and how to make yourself feel better quickly if you're experiencing it. Before long, you'll be reducing the symptoms of jet lag and taking your travel adventures to the next level.
What is Jet Lag Disorder?
Your body's internal clock, also called your circadian rhythm, is responsible for controlling when you feel sleepy and awake during the day. It’s typically in sync with the sun, but long-distance flights where you cross at least 2 time zones west or east can throw off this balance and keep your body from adjusting to its new environment.
What Causes Jet Lag Disorder and How Long Does it Last?
Jet log disorder, or simply jet lag, is caused by the disruption of your body's natural circadian rhythm, which is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Jet lag can last for several days or even weeks, depending on the number of time zones you crossed and how quickly you are able to adapt to the new time zone.
Symptoms of Jet Lag
As mentioned, the symptoms of jet lag can vary from person to person, but they most commonly include fatigue, irritability, nausea and insomnia. It also causes GI issues and headaches. Jet lag symptoms can also affect your mental and physical performance, making it difficult to concentrate and focus. For this reason, jet lag can be more than a mild convenience for people traveling long distances for work, as its symptoms can have a significant impact on your productivity.
How is Jet Lag Treated?
One of the best ways to get over jet lag disorder is to slowly adjust your sleep and wake times to the new time zone. This may mean going to bed earlier than usual or taking short naps during the day. It's also important to stay hydrated and exercise while you're traveling to help reduce fatigue. In addition, getting plenty of natural light exposure can help reset your body's clock. It helps to stay healthy too because a fast recovery from jet lag is also linked to a healthy lifestyle.
How Can I Prevent Jet Lag?
If you are wondering how to avoid jet lag, the best way to prevent it is by planning ahead. In other words, try to adjust your sleep and wake times a few days before you travel, so that your body has time to get used to the new schedule. It's also helpful to avoid heavy meals and alcoholic beverages close to bedtime, as these can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Additionally, you can use certain herbs & OTC medicines that might help to reset your body's clock and prevent jet lag.
Common Jet Lag Medicines
Many people turn to over-the-counter medications, such as melatonin to help reset your body's internal clock and offset jet lag disorder. Melatonin is also naturally present in many foodstuffs if you want to take a more natural approach to getting it.
Melatonin is produced naturally in your body by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness, and it helps with your sleep. It often levels off in your teens, so older people with insomnia often turn to sources of it to supplement the loss and get to sleep.
There are natural sources of melatonin in some foods that you eat like herbs, mushrooms, fish, nuts and eggs. You can also drink it in tea made with cardamom pods. To do this, simply remove the husk and crush up about four cardamom pod contents in water. Then, boil them in hot water to extract the melatonin. Also, chai teas often contain cardamom pods that are already crushed in the tea bags.
There are also certain other foodstuffs that have been found to reduce the effects of jet lag, such as tart cherries or dark chocolate. Eating a healthy diet during travel is important for overall health and recovery, so make sure you're getting plenty of fruits and vegetables as well.
You can also take synthetically produced melatonin in supplement form. More importantly, you should only take it as directed since the long-term effects of taking more than recommended aren't known. When supplementing with melatonin, it often levels off and diminishes after the initial dose. To avoid this, you can take time-release melatonin supplements like Natrol.
Be cautious with taking melatonin though, as it can cause daytime drowsiness. Additionally, melatonin supplements should not be taken if you have certain autoimmune diseases. Lastly, it can interact with other medicines. Always talk to your doctor if you are taking any herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements.
Our bodies are naturally wired to respond to light. Exposure to natural sunlight helps our body's natural clock and can help us adjust to the new time zone faster. Getting an hour or two of exposure to sunlight in the morning, for example, can help reset your body's internal clock and make it easier for you to sleep at night. You should practice this technique a few days in advance of your travels to get the most benefit.
When Should I Call a Doctor?
Some people may need to take prescribed jet lag medicine to get an adequate amount of sleep. These include some antidepressants and benzodiazepines, which can be prescribed by your doctor to help with jet lag-related sleep issues when nothing else works. Prescription drugs for jet lag disorder should only be taken as directed by your doctor, as they can have serious side effects.
Other Good Things to Know
If you are traveling to another country, make sure that you know their drug laws. Take Russia, for example. Medications you take to Russia and other countries may contain narcotics or psychotropic substances. If they do, they must be declared at customs, along with a notarized and Russian-translated prescription. Also, some dietary supplements like melatonin that can be purchased over the counter in the United States may be banned or regulated in other countries.
Avoid These Things Before Bedtime
Alcohol and caffeine can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid both of them at least several hours before bedtime so you don't disrupt your sleep. This is especially important when traveling since jet lag can make it difficult for you to get a good night's rest. Additionally, avoid electronics that emit blue light in the evening hours, as this can disrupt your circadian rhythms and make it harder for you to sleep.
Does Jet Lag Light Therapy Work?
If you are looking for a more natural way to beat jet lag, then bright light therapy may be the answer. Bright light therapy, also known as phototherapy or helio-therapy, involves exposure to an artificial bright light or lamp that mimics sunlight. It works to help reset your body's natural circadian rhythm. This type of therapy involves exposing yourself to a bright light device for 20-30 minutes a day to help reset your body's clock. An effective strength for these treatments is between the range of 2,500 - 10,000 lux.
Science backs up that it works too. A study by Rush University Medical Center shows that lamps that emit this brightness help promote better sleep patterns, especially when combined with melatonin supplementation. Bright Health's Light Therapy Lamp uses this range of intensity to help you get back on track quickly after traveling by helping you to reset your internal clock to match the new time zone.
Try Bright Health's At-Home Light Therapy Device Today
If you're suffering from jet lag, Bright Health's At-Home Light Therapy Lamp is an easy and convenient way to help reset your body's clock. It emits a bright, natural light that helps stimulate the production of melatonin in your body so you can sleep better at night. Its portable design allows it to be used anywhere, anytime. Plus, it comes with a 60-day satisfaction guarantee so you can try it risk-free. Try Bright Health's At-Home Light Therapy Device today and kick jet lag to the curb!