Jet lag is a real pain. You can spend days trying to adjust to a new time zone, only to find yourself exhausted and unable to function. But some simple and effective home remedies can help you beat jet lag and get back on track quickly.
Jet lag is a common problem amongst international travelers who fly multiple time zones in one flight. It is more prominent when flying from west to east as compared to flying from east to west. Night-time flying causes more jet lag complications than day-time flying.
Sunlight is the natural regulator of our sleep-wake cycle. While flying very long distances this natural cycle of sunlight exposure gets disrupted as the time zones significantly change. The sleep disorder caused by such travel between different time zone is usually called jet lag.
Since jet lag is temporary disorientation of sleep, it can be easily resolved by lifestyle changes and by using some home remedies before and after such a long time zone travel.
The main reason for sleep disorder occurs due to the disrupted timing of the release of a brain chemical called Melatonin. The brain releases this chemical as night approaches, making us drowsy to help sleep.
Melatonin release is linked to light. The timings of light and darkness change as we move past many time zones affecting the sleep cycle. Since flying from West to east reduces the daytime and nighttime approaches faster due to time zone differences, the set timing of Melatonin release gets disturbed. This creates jet lag.
The main symptoms of jet lag include insomnia, disorientation, lack of concentration or fuzziness, irritability, and indigestion for many days after the journey is completed. You may also experience discomfort in the legs and feel dehydrated.
7 Home Remedies for Jet Lag
Like it or not, unfortunately, there is no cure for jet lag nor is there a sure-shot way to completely prevent it. However, many different ways can help alleviate some of the symptoms of jet lag. One or more of the following methods should work for you:
1. Understand it First to Avoid Jet Lag.
It becomes easy to prevent and treat jet lag if we can understand the different reasons that cause it.
Disruption of the timing of Melatonin release is not the only cause, there are many other reasons for jet lag but the most prominent one is the time zone difference between the two airports.
It is estimated that every one hour of the time zone difference will cause 1 day of sleep disruption before you get back to your normal routine. In other words, if you are taking a long-haul flight of say 9 hours, it may take 9 days for your sleep to come back to the normal cycle.
Other reasons though less prominent include, dryness in the aircraft which impacts sinus membranes, cabin pressure at high altitude causes tiredness and lethargy, the stale air in the aircraft may cause nausea and the pre-journey pressures and anxieties all put together to add to the jet lag complications.
2. Adjust Sleeping Time in Advance
Prepare yourself in advance for the new time zone sleeping schedule. If your flight time zone difference is 1-3 hours then, a couple of days before the journey, you can shift your sleeping time according to the new time zone. Begin to sleep early or late depending on whether you are traveling eastward or westward. This is one of the easiest methods to avoid jet lag during short journeys.
3. Avoid Last Minute Rush – Relax
Another important pre-flight routine to avoid jet lag (reduce the impact) is to remain calm and completely relaxed before the flight. What it means is that complete your preparations for the travel many days in advance. No last-minute rush, shopping for gifts, or any other such activity that causes anxiety. Feel excited and look forward to enjoying the flight.
Don’t underestimate the power of being relaxed as one of the best jet lag remedies.
In addition to the ways, you read so far, the following remedies will help to get rid of your jet lag effectively in a short time.
4. Remain Hydrated
Drink a lot of water during the flight. Keep yourself fully hydrated. This will have a very positive effect on your sinuses and the entire ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) region. Don’t take caffeine, alcohol, or aerated drinks because they increase dryness and dehydration. Apply moisturizing creams to avoid skin dehydration. This way you can reduce if not prevent jet lag completely.
5. Move up and down the aisle
Don’t take sleeping pills. They will increase the complexities of jet lag.
6. Increase Sun Exposure
Another great natural jet lag remedy is to stand in front of the sun at your destination for 20-30 minutes to get the sunlight to regulate melatonin release at the proper time in the new time zone. This regular sunlight exposure and try to avoid sleeping at the old time zone sleeping time ( this may cause little discomfort) but will greatly help as a natural jet lag remedy.
7. Take Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin supplements have been found to help the body quickly adjust to new surroundings thereby curing jet lag. These should be done under a doctor's supervision to avoid side effects which include excessive dreams and nightmares.
Some people take synthetic Melatonin a couple of hours before sleeping time in the new time zone and feel relieved of jet lag.
It works in some cases but its effectiveness is highly debatable. In some cases, Melatonin has been found to increase jet lag symptoms.
It is still not very well understood as to how much melatonin should be taken and exactly how many days and at what time.
A 0.5 mg dose of Melatonin before bedtime is generally prescribed but it doesn’t provide relief in all cases.
It has been found to benefit if it is taken along with regulating exposure timings with sunlight.
Regularly expose yourself to the Sunlight for ½ to 1 hour during the early hours in the new time zone. Take 0.5 mg melatonin before bedtime. If you feel sleepy during the day then take small naps but no log sleeps during the daytime.
This practice has been found to reduce jet lag sleep disturbance period. If a flight from LA to London would have otherwise created 9 days of jet lag, then the combination of Melatonin and Sunlight exposure can reduce the jet lag sleep disturbances to 3-4 days.
If you take precautions you will reduce jet lag.
In conclusion, the best home remedies for jet lag are to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, get some sunlight, and adjust your sleep schedule. Try out a few of these remedies and see which ones work best for you. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can overcome jet lag and enjoy your trip.