How long does it take to overcome Jet Lag? - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
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Friday, May 14, 2021

How long does it take to overcome Jet Lag?

How long does it take to overcome jetlag

Travel allows us to see the world, experience new cultures, and make incredible memories along the way. However, one of the drawbacks is the notorious jet lag you may encounter when you reach your destination. Jet lag is a temporary sleep problem that affects those quickly traveling across multiple time zones, typically by plane.

Jet lag results from a disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm, an internal clock that regulates our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. So, if you leave Los Angeles at 5:00 in the evening and arrive in New York City at 10:00 pm, your body still thinks that it’s on LA time. Jet lag typically worsens the more time zones you go through and when you’re traveling East since you’re losing time rather than gaining it.

Jet Lag Symptoms

Regardless of whether you’re traveling for vacation or work, the effects of jet lag can hinder your experience.

1) Insomnia or excessive tiredness - Sleeping more than usual or trouble falling asleep is a common symptom of jet lag.

2) Daytime fatigue -Travelers may also feel fatigued during the day as a result of their jet lag.

3) Trouble concentrating - Difficulty concentrating is another possible effect. This could be especially bad for business travelers who need to be alert for work.

4) Constipation or diarrhea - Another potential downside to jet lag? Stomach problems. Travelers heading abroad may experience constipation or diarrhea. For those dealing with constipation, experts suggest drinking water, getting exercise, using the bathroom immediately when you need to, and eating more fiber-rich foods. To control diarrhea, you must be mindful of the foods and beverages you’re consuming. The University of California at San Francisco provides a detailed nutritional guideline to help those experiencing diarrhea. Although you’re likely eager to indulge in local cuisine, it’s important to ensure your stomach is well before you try out new foods that could exacerbate these symptoms.

5) Feeling under the weather - While you may not have a full-blown cold, jet lag could cause you to not feel like your best self. The Mayo Clinic describes this as a general feeling of not being well. Furthermore, a lack of sleep can impact your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to illness, which is why it’s good to take as many precautions as you can to stay healthy during your trip.

6) Mood changes - The tiredness you feel from jet lag could also cause you to feel more irritable. Research shows that poor sleep is closely linked to negative emotions and stress.

How Long Does Jet Lag Last?

How long does jet lag last

Jet lag can affect anyone, regardless of age, though older adults may need a longer recovery time. According to Harvard Health, it usually takes roughly a day per time zone to fully get over jet lag. In that case, traveling over five time zones means your jet lag should last about five days.

However, if you experience jet lag symptoms for two weeks or more, you may have another underlying sleep condition and should consult with your doctor.

Travel Tips for Minimizing Jet Lag

Getting better rest while traveling mainly comes down to being as prepared as possible, and the good news is that there are ways to help reduce the effects of jet lag.

Gradually adjust before your trip

You don’t have to wait until you hop on the plane to start preparing for your new environment. Ahead of your upcoming journey, gradually move your meal, bed, and wake-up times to that of your destination.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can intensify symptoms of jet lag, leaving you more tired than usual, and airplanes have low levels of humidity while in the air, further fueling your chances of becoming dehydrated. To prevent this, you should drink lots of fluids - particularly water - before, during, and after your flight. It’s also a good idea to purchase a water bottle or fill your own up in the airport terminal so that you’ll have enough water on hand, especially for those longer flights.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

You may think caffeine is the answer to help you stay awake or that a glass of wine will help you doze off, but health experts warn that both foster dehydration. In addition, caffeine and alcohol can negatively impact your quality of sleep once you reach your destination.

Move around during the flight

Experts suggest that periodically stretching and moving about the cabin is also good for jet lag and helps keep your blood flowing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, travelers seated for prolonged periods are at risk of developing blood clots, and that moving should help reduce that risk.

Bring products to help you sleep on the plane

If sleeping during your flight will help you adjust to your new time zone, do everything you can to make sure you get some shuteye.

An eye mask should keep out light, while earplugs can help block out noise. Dress in cozy clothes that are easy to sleep in and bring a blanket or ask a flight attendant for one if that helps you feel more comfortable.

You may have noticed other travelers carrying a U-shaped pillow with them. Not only can these give you something to rest on, but they should also help prevent any neck pain from developing while you sleep by keeping your spine in good alignment.

Immediately get on the local schedule after arriving

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s vital to get on the local schedule immediately. If you arrive during the day, stay up until it’s time to go to bed. For those arriving late at night, go to bed immediately but avoid sleeping in the following day.

Don’t take naps

You may take one look at that comfy hotel bed, and thoughts of napping begin to fill your mind. However, experts say it’s essential to avoid them in order to get on a good sleep schedule and curb your jet lag - no matter how tired you are.

Get Sunlight


Heading outside and getting exposure to light should also help your body modify to the new time zone. This is because light is one of the primary triggers for the body’s internal clock, and can regulate melatonin production. Sunlight can also help give you an energy boost if you need help staying awake until you’re fully adjusted.

Is there a cure for jet lag?

Is there a cure for jet lag

Unfortunately, there’s no simple, fool-proof method to eliminate jet lag, which is why trying to minimize it is the best thing you can do. By reducing the effects of jet lag, you should have an overall better travel experience and avoid wasting time on your carefully planned trip.

Photo Courtesy: All the photographs have been borrowed from pexels.com under the Creative Commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on pexels.


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