Jet Lag

Author: Amber Houghton   Date Posted:3 April 2014 

What is jet lag?

When traveling across time zones, it takes time for our internal body clocks to adapt to the new local time. The disruption in the body´s circadian rhythm, or desynchronosis, is known colloquially as jet lag.

Why does it happen?

The 24-hour cycle of light and darkness provides cues to the hypothalamus, a structure in the brain that activates responses like thirst, hunger, and tiredness. When we travel from one time zone to another, the cues sent by the hypothalamus do not correspond with what the body needs at that time, and the sensation of jet lag results.

What are the symptoms?

The primary symptoms of jet lag are insomnia and fatigue, though a number of other symptoms may also appear, including mild anxiety, irritability, dizziness, confusion, constipation, dehydration, nausea and headache.

What are some day to day remedies?

  1. Exercise regularly, eat well, and get enough rest. Studies have shown that people who are in good physical condition experience less severe symptoms of jet lag when traveling.
  2. Drink lots of water. Keeping hydrated en route also helps alleviate jet lag.
  3. Avoid alcohol. Because it can contribute to dehydration, you should avoid alcohol the day before, while en route, and the day after traveling.
  4. Avoid caffeine. Not only can caffeine contribute to dehydration, but it can also further disrupt sleep cycles.
  5. Observe sleep and meal times at destination. Observe local timetables as soon as you arrive in your new destination. Being awake during daylight hours will help the hypothalamus get back on track.
  6. Break up the trip. If crossing multiple time zones, it can be helpful to spend a few days at an intermediate destination, allowing a more gradual adaptation.
Written by Amber Houghton
Amber Houghton

Amber holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Naturopathy, and has a particular passion for nutritious, whole-food eating. She feels education surrounding the best dietary and lifestyle choices are fundamental in allowing people to take responsibility for their own health, and to help with the maintenance of their well-being.

Although passionate about wholesome food, Amber does confess to having a particular fondness for cake, and enjoys a slice every now and then.