Jet lag: cause, symptoms and treatment tips

Jet lag usually lasts only a few days and yet it makes the arrival more relaxed. But what can you do about it after and before the flight? The best tips against the time zone hangover.

Wanderlust, anticipation, jet lag? When flying to distant countries, the time zone hangover is already in wait. Why this is so, what symptoms appear and how you can tame it.

Symptoms of jet lag

Anyone who has ever flown to countries with a different time zone has probably already got to know jetlag. Typical symptoms are:

Not every traveler with jet lag also suffers from all symptoms, some are more comfortable with the changes than others.

Why do we have jet lag at all?

Roughly speaking: our internal clock has got out of step. Processes in our body repeat themselves according to a rhythm. B. when we are particularly efficient or when we are tired. Because our biological clock is also in sync with the times of day and reacts to light and dark. If our sleep-wake rhythm is confused by flying to a different time zone, this will disrupt it. There is also a significant difference in which direction we fly …

The direction decides …

… how bad jet lag is felt. If we fly west, we fly with the sun, so to speak – our day is getting longer. But if it goes east, our day will be shorter, light is missing, the organism can no longer keep to the usual rhythm. The outer timers and the inner clock no longer matched.

With a time difference of one or two hours, the body usually adjusts to the new time relatively easily. With longer distances and longer flights, however, this is no longer so easy. You can find out which tips will help in the next section.

Jetlag – the best tips

How severe the symptoms appear is individual. Some have more severe symptoms than others. As a guideline, you can remember that we need about a day per jet lag houruntil the inner clock and the outer day-night rhythm run in sync again. In the meantime, you can take the following tips to heart to treat jet lag:

Tips when flying west

  • A few days before the start of the trip, go to bed one hour later and get up an hour later.
  • Adjusting meals before departure helps to better manage jet lag. Eat west later than usual.
  • Naps (about 20 minutes) on the plane and upon arrival are fine.
  • Also go into daylight on site in the evening.

Tips when flying east

  • Go to bed an hour earlier and get up an hour earlier a few days before the start of your trip. Soak up light in the morning.
  • It is best not to sleep during the flight so that fatigue sets in more quickly on arrival.
  • Go into daylight on site in the morning.

These tips help after arrival:

  1. If you wear a wristwatch, set it to the current local time. Smartphones usually switch automatically.
  2. Protection is the order of the day! Surely you want to explore the holiday country as long and immediately as possible, but it is more advisable to take it easy for the first two days and not to overexert your body.
  3. Live according to local time, so try to adapt to the new daily rhythm. Eat, for example, after the local times, to use (healthy) snacks for hunger lows.
  4. Activities in the fresh air also help to get a better grip on jet lag.

Avoid double jet lag

If you only have a short stay, e.g. B. as a stopover or short trip, it does not make sense to adjust to the new rhythm, because if you fly back again, you have jetlag again …

Melatonin as a jet lag saver?

The hormone melatonin controls the sleep-wake rhythm in the body, which is why it is also called the sleep hormone. Melatonin supplements are said to promote sleep, but there are no studies to prove the effect.

Already knew? Whether jet lag, headache or sleep disorders – you can exchange ideas with others in the BRIGITTE community.

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