How to avoid jet lag

Martin I. Jones
5 min read
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Do you have a big business trip coming up? Do you worry about getting jet lagged? Don't worry; you're not alone. Many people experience jet lag when they travel to different time zones. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for avoiding jet lag and managing travel fatigue. Following these tips can help you perform better on arrival, make your trip more enjoyable... and less stressful!

The severity of jet lag increases with the number of time zones crossed and depends on the direction of the time-zone transition. Flights to the east are associated with more jet lag than flights west, and the effects of jet lag are worse for older than younger travellers. Sleep and circadian rhythms are disrupted in aircrew therefore, more experience of time-zone transitions does not act as protection.

The circadian rhythm – the natural body clock – can be disrupted by travel. This is what causes jet lag. When you cross time zones, your body must readjust, and this can result in feelings of fatigue, disorientation, irritability, gastrointestinal issues, and reduced cognitive function. There is no cure for jet lag, but there is a way to hack your circadian rhythm and avoid that post-travel fatigue. And it all has to do with light.

Jet lag happens when there is a mismatch between your internal clock and the time in your destination. For example, if you travel from New York to London (a five-hour time difference), your body is still in New York time when it lands in London. To reset your internal clock, you need to expose yourself to light at the correct times.One general piece of advice is to try and sync your body's circadian clock with the new time zone as quickly as possible. This can be done by gradually adjusting your sleep schedule before your trip and exposing yourself to (or avoiding) natural light or bright light therapy when you arrive at your destination. Commercially available light boxes are usually advertised as treatments of seasonally based depression. However, these same devices can also help phase-shift circadian clocks, so that jet lag isn't a big issue! Try shifting your circadian phase by switching on your light box at a time equivalent to morning at your destination. Also, a few days before your trip, move your bedtime earlier or later by 15-30 minutes each day to match your bedtime at your destination.

During the flight, drink plenty of fluids (but not alcohol or caffeine) and eat light meals on the plane. Dehydration and low blood sugar can worsen the symptoms of jet lag. When you're on the plane, adjust the window shade so that the light exposure is like what it would be at the time of day at your destination. As soon as you land at your destination, expose yourself to natural light as much as possible. Go for a walk outside or sit near a window. This will help reset your circadian clock faster. If it's daytime, go out and get some light exercise. And if it's night-time, try to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime. It is essential to keep your body clock as close as possible to the new time zone by eating and sleeping correctly in the new time zone as soon as possible. Eating or exercising at inappropriate times (i.e., during the night at your destination) can misalign your body clock with your environment, causing more significant fatigue and discomfort. Adjusting your watch to the new time zone early in your trip can help you remember what time it is and to adjust your behaviour (and light exposure) accordingly. Finally, exercise can help adjust your body clock, but try to avoid intense training in the first few days after travelling to avoid unnecessary added stress on your system.

Although jet lag can be a significant nuisance, it doesn’t have to disrupt your performance. If you frequently find yourself struggling with jet lag after business trips, there is something you can do about it. By hacking your circadian rhythm, you can minimise the effects of jet lag and arrive feeling rested and refreshed. Using the tips in this article, you can minimise its impact and stay on top of your game while travelling.

Book a coaching session with us today if you want personalised advice on how to best avoid or rectify jet lag. We’ll help you get back on track quickly so you can focus on your goals:

We also discuss how to entrain your circadian rhythm within our online sleep course.  You can learn that and much more information here:

Until next time.

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Martin I. Jones