Jet lag – how to deal with it?

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Air travel is associated by most people with a comfortable and quick change from one location to another, but it is not so easy for everyone. Jet lag, or sudden time zone change syndrome, can be a nuisance. Drowsiness, poor concentration and headaches – what to do when such symptoms hit us after a long journey?

Why is jet lag so troublesome?

What is jet lag? It is a phenomenon which occurs due to a sudden change of time zone. It manifests itself in the following days:

  • problems with sleep (affecting up to 78% of travelers),
  • headaches,
  • stomach aches,
  • bad mood,
  • a sense of drowsiness,
  • exhaustion,
  • delayed ovulation (affects ⅓ of women).

It is interesting to note that this affliction more often affects people who change time zones and travel long distances in the eastern direction. This is probably due to the feeling of “shortening” of the day. This makes it much more difficult to adapt to changing conditions. Although jet lag-related disorders are temporary and disappear after you get used to the new time zone, they can be very disruptive

How long does jet lag last?

The answer to this question depends both on the destination and on personal predisposition to this type of disorder. It is assumed that the duration of the disorder is:

  • 3 or 4 days – if traveling to any of the Americas;
  • 5 or 6 days – when flying to Asia;
  • up to 12 days – if crossing 12 time zones.

Who is particularly vulnerable to jet lag?

The main issue is our body’s habituation to sudden time zone changes or lack thereof. As a rule, this does not apply to pilots, stewardesses and those people who are in the habit of frequent and long-distance travel. They are accustomed to such changes. More resistant are likely to turn out to be people who lead a not very normal lifestyle, often sleepless nights, sleeping them off later during the day. Who can suffer the most? Probably, jet lag will affect most severely those who value constant daily rhythm and go to bed at a fixed time

How to protect yourself from jet lag? Useful ideas

What to do so that the phenomenon will not be able to take away our pleasure from the long-awaited vacation in Asia or South America? The basic thing to do is to prepare well before departure. Sometimes it is even recommended to divide the trip into two stages, which usually helps to reduce the nuisance of jet lag symptoms. What else can we do to avoid or overcome difficulties?

Adjusting your bedtime

First of all, it is important to get a good night’s sleep before you set off on your trip. This will minimize the possible effects of jet lag once you are at your destination. Additionally, a very good strategy will be to try to adapt your sleeping rhythm to the one that is in force in the time zone of the country to which you are going. However, you need to give yourself enough time for such attempts. For some people a few days are enough, others need, for example, two weeks


Before and during the trip you should eat and drink a lot. What you eat a few days before the trip should be easy to digest. Proper hydration is also important. It is estimated that an adult should drink at least 2 liters of water a day and it is worth sticking to these proportions. It should be non-carbonated mineral water. Drinking coffee, alcohol and sweetened colored drinks, we will achieve the opposite effect

Movement, relaxation and lots of sun

How to avoid jet lag after landing? It is recommended to gradually acclimatize through relaxing baths, music therapy and walks. The latter should preferably take place in nature. Exposure to sunlight is also important – especially in the morning and before evening

Photo Ross Parmly/Unsplash

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