Travelling the world has never been easier. Remote jobs, study or work abroad programs are now easier to get than ever and for most young people it’s hard to imagine spending their entire lives in one place. But no matter how much smaller the world gets, jet lag isn’t going anywhere.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is a temporary sleep-wake disorder that occurs after long-haul flights where one or more time zones are crossed. Your biological clock can get confused, the biological time and local time are not correct.
The cause of jet lag lies in the inability of the body to adapt immediately to the time in another time zone. So, when a New Yorker arrives in Paris at midnight Parisian time, his or her body continues to work on New York time.
Jet lag isn’t linked to the length of a flight, but to how many time zones you crossed, also in which direction the plane flies. People are more bothered by jet lag when they fly from west to east, than when they fly the other way around. They actually 'lose' time. For example, if you're flying from Amsterdam to Bangkok at 2pm, you'll arrive around 7am local time in Bangkok. You have missed a night and you will feel that! But if you fly from Amsterdam to New York, your day will only last longer. Flights from north to south, or vice versa usually don’t result in jet lag.
Try to avoid night flights, you will arrive at your destination in the morning so that jet lag appears much faster. Plan your flights so that you arrive at your destination in the afternoon or evening. You just have to stay awake for a few hours or you can go right to bed!
Don't surrender to your tiredness!
When you start feeling sleepy after arriving to your destination because it’s bedtime in your old time zone but midday in your new one, hold off. Try to stay awake for the rest of the day and go to bed around bedtime. In the morning you will also wake up at a normal time (hopefully) and avoid jet lag. Does your plane arrive in the evening? Just go to bed and try to get some sleep.
Don’t eat meals that contain saturated fat or other heavy meals. Your digestive system will get confused when you eat a heavy meal in the middle of the night. It’s better to eat a light meal when you’re on the plane.
While still on the plane; adjust the times on your phone and watch to the local times of your destination. This way you can try to adjust to the new time rhythm. Try to stay awake on the plane if it is morning or afternoon at your arrival destination and try to sleep on board when it is already night. In this way you let your body get used to the new local time while still on the plane.
How do we cope with jet lag?
Most of our journeys are to countries with different time zones. And until now, we never had to cope with jet lag. We planned our trips smart, so we can go right to bed when we arrive. After that, we wake up at a normal time in the morning and just enjoy our holidays. If we can do it, so can you!