As you fly through multiple time zones, it’s almost inevitable that you will experience jet lag. If your body wants to eat when it’s time to sleep or sleep when you want to go out, you’re most likely experiencing jet lag.
What Is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is the disruption of the body’s sleeping and waking cycle. Jet lag is a common, temporary sleep problem and affects almost everyone who travels across multiple time zones.
Your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm signals the body when to sleep and when to wake up. You will experience jet lag when the internal clock is still synced to the original time zone instead of the time zone you have traveled. Sometimes it may take several days for the body’s internal clock to catch up to the new time zone. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)
Causes of Jet Lag
Apart from disrupting your body’s natural clock, several other reasons can cause jet lag.
- It may be difficult to sleep during the flight due to the temperature, noise, or comfort level. Sometimes, even too much sleep during the flight can throw off your body clock.
- The hormone melatonin helps your body to get ready to sleep. When the lights are dim, the brain releases this hormone. If there’s too much light in the cabin or too much screen time, it slows down melatonin production, causing the body to stay awake.
- Travel fatigue or conditions like altitude sickness can also contribute to jet lag.
- Not drinking adequate water or drinking caffeinated beverages during the flight leads to dehydration. Also, drinking alcohol can impact the quality of your sleep. All these factors can worsen jet lag.
- The symptoms of jet lag seem to be more severe when flying eastward. Also, older people are more likely to experience jet lag than younger travelers.
Symptoms of Jet Lag
The more time zones you travel, the more likely you are to experience jet lag. Usually, the symptoms may show up within 12 hours of arriving at your destination. Sometimes you may have just one sign, or you may experience multiple symptoms.
Some of the symptoms of jet lag include:
- Excessive sleeping
- Minor gastrointestinal problems like constipation or diarrhea
- Feeling disoriented or confused
Tips to Prevent Jet Lag
Jet lag affects your state of alertness and energy levels. While you can’t avoid jet lag altogether, here are some steps to minimize its effects.
Try to Adjust Your Schedule Before Your Trip
If you’re flying eastward, it’s a good idea to go to sleep one hour earlier every night for a few days before your trip. On the other hand, if your travel involves flying westward, try to go to bed one hour later for a few days before your trip.
Sleep Well Before the Trip
Sometimes you may not find time to rest well before a flight. You could be busy packing and preparing for your trip or be excited about the trip. Some people may even deliberately tire themselves out with the hope of sleeping through the flight. This may not work well. Resting well and getting good sleep before the flight is crucial to fight the effects of jet lag.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and even after the flight, so you’re not dehydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can cause dehydration and affect the quality of your sleep.
Choose a Flight That Arrives in Daylight
Choosing a flight that arrives in daylight or early evening will help you stay awake. It’s best not to sleep until local night time, so your body adjusts to the new schedule. Even if you want to sleep, make sure you only take a power nap of no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
Try to Sleep During the Flight
One of the best ways to minimize jet lag is to try and sleep during the flight. Using earplugs, eye masks, or noise-cancellation headphones helps to block out light and noise.
It’s best to avoid sugary and fatty foods when traveling. Eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables instead. Avoid overeating, as this can increase symptoms of jet lag like fatigue, bloating, or an upset stomach.
Avoid Sleeping Pills
It’s best not to rely on sleeping pills, especially on long-haul flights. Sleeping pills do not help in recovery, and they might leave you feeling fuzzy when you land. Try to sleep naturally or have some herbal teas to help you get some shut-eye. (Hinson, 2020)
While the effects of jet lag may last for a few days, the best way to adjust to the new time zone is by eating, working, and sleeping right. Remember to give yourself time to adapt to the new schedule to make the most of your trip.
Las Vegas Welcomes International Travelers
Las Vegas welcomes international travelers. We are a city that never sleeps, so be prepared to take extra measures to insure you sleep well while you’re here. When booking lodging, be sure to book away from pool areas or elevators. Stock your mini-fridge with water bottles and make use of your blackout curtains if you need a power nap during the day.
We want our visitors ready to rock and roll as soon as they hit the pavement at McCarran International Airport!
Mayo Clinic. “Jet Lag Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2 Oct. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jet-lag/symptoms-causes/syc-20374027.
Holland, Kimberly. “What Causes Jet Lag and What Can You Do to Manage and Prevent the Symptoms?” Healthline, Healthline, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/jet-lag.
Hinson, Tamara. “How to Get over Jet Lag: 14 Tips for Beating Timezone Tiredness.” Skyscanner’s Travel Blog, 18 Mar. 2020, https://www.skyscanner.net/news/jetlag-15-tips-beating-timezone-tiredness.