Photo credit by Adnan Yahya
Jet lag affects up to three out of four people who travel long distance with symptoms ranging from simple tiredness to mild depression. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to minimize any negative side-effects caused by jet lag.
Jet lag symptoms
The severity of jet lag symptoms will vary from person to person depending on their general state of health, age and the number of time zones that they cross during their journey. Some of the symptoms they may experience when they return from vacation include:
- Mild depression
- Aching muscles
Adjust your sleep patterns to local time
There is a great temptation to go to sleep when you arrive home and are exhausted. Often, while it may be morning at home, in the country you have just left it will be night time and your body clock will be telling you that you need to sleep. The problem with this is that if you have a long sleep in the morning or midday, you may not be able to sleep at night-time. You then get into a cycle of more days of interrupted sleep. This can particularly be a problem if you have to go to work the next day or have business meetings where you have to be alert. If you really can not stay awake until local night time, have a nap but make sure that you set your alarm so that you do not sleep for more than one or two hours. You should also ensure that your nap is not taken close to bedtime.
Be active until bedtime
Sunlight helps to regulate your internal body clock so if you want to stay awake it helps if you can spend time outside, weather permitting. You are trying to adapt your body to the new time schedule and by exposing yourself to light, you are telling it that is not yet time to produce sleep inducing hormones.
Avoid large meals
Large or heavy meals can make you feel tired at the best of times, let alone when you are exhausted and want to sleep. Try to avoid having heavy meals and opt instead for a light breakfast and lunch.
Drink plenty of water
All of the symptoms of jet lag can also come from dehydration so it is especially important that you make sure you drink plenty of water. This will ensure that your symptoms are not more severe.
Give yourself time to recover
Rather than returning to work the day after you arrive home, you should try and schedule your flights so that you have at least one full day (preferably two) to re-adjust your body clock. A good nights sleep can make a significant difference to your performance and the amount of time it takes you to recover. If you can not take more time off work, try at least to schedule your flights so that you will have the weekend to get yourself back into your normal routine.