Jetlag, describes the collection of symptoms caused by disruption to our internal clock when we fly across several time zones in quick succession. It normally occurs when the time difference is more than 3 hours.
On arrival at our destination, we may experience a variety of symptoms:
Let’s remember that our internal clock is set to the time parameters of our normal environment, namely light, temperature, meal times etc. Crossing several time zones within a short space of time disrupts this internal clock and, as a result, various of the body’s functions too. We need to adapt a little in order to become accustomed to this new circadian rhythm.
It’s often said it takes a day to adapt, though this is easier when travelling west rather than east. But for some people (especially older individuals), it can take longer, and the related physical and mental problems can therefore mar a holiday or adversely affect a business trip.
So let’s now explore the 3 natural techniques which can really help with this resynchronisation...
In the nights leading up to your trip, try to ensure you sleep well so that you avoid building up a sleep debt, which will exacerbate jetlag.
Then once you’re on the plane, we recommend changing your watch to the time zone of your destination. In this way, you’ll have already subconsciously begun to adapt to your new time zone.
Use the flight to take a long nap, if it’s in the daytime, or to sleep the whole night (if you’re able to), if it’s a night flight. Keep yourself well-hydrated, eat lightly, avoid alcohol and stimulating drinks, and get up and move around from time to time.
To overcome jetlag, it’s particularly important to align yourself as quickly as possible with the local time.
If you’re landing at night, then go to bed. If you’re arriving in the early hours of the morning, treat it the start of a new day.
The most important thing is not to stay cooped up inside but to get out in the fresh air so that you’re exposed to natural light, a key element of your resynchronisation.
One of the most recognised remedies for overcoming jetlag is melatonin. A hormone produced naturally by the pineal gland, levels of which increase as night starts to fall, it is known for maintaining the sleep-wake cycle.
When jetlagged, the body’s melatonin production becomes out of synch with its actual needs. Supplementing with melatonin thus facilitates and accelerates the re-synchronisation process. This is especially so when you’re travelling from the west to the east, since melatonin production gets delayed (in the case, for example, of a European flying to Asia, or returning from the US). A melatonin supplement, taken in the evening, brings forward the release of melatonin in the body and helps you to get to sleep faster (1-4).
Melatonin supplements are available in various forms:
If you’re looking for other natural products to pack in your suitcase, these are the most valuable supplements to take with you on your travels:
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