Jet Lag, Schmet Lag: Yes or No?

Written by Entertainment, Health

“More than half of travelers believe that sleeping on the plane is the best way to counteract jetlag, while 15 per cent change their watch to the new timezone in advance to help avoid tiredness.”


(Photo: GETTY)

It is four in the morning and your eyes still wide open, your brain is drained out and you are lying on your bed in a hotel. Thanks jet lag! This costs you for a single flight over 10 hours and travelling through to many time zones.


“There is nothing worse than being exhausted on vacation or on a business trip.” 

Jo Piazza, Managing Editor for Yahoo Travel

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is defined as “travelling across time zones…which can disrupt regular patterns of sleep and wakefulness” (Jet Lag and Shift Work, 2007). When you are flying fast from west to east, or east to west, you will have a change in time zones. For instance, when you fly from Paris at 7:00 p.m, after 6 hours your flight will land at 7:00 a.m. Boston time.

Yet, your body clock will feel like the middle of the day — because back in Paris, it actually is, midday.

Then, if you feel a mixture of nasty symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • poor sleep
  • insomnia
  • disorientation
  • reduced concentration
  • headache
  • stress
  • nausea
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • stiffness and muscle pain

– most likely you will be suffering jet lag!


“There’s no single silver bullet, because the physiological cause and impact of jet lag upon your body is complicated stuff”

– David Flynn, business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller

Shifting to new time zones can confuse your circadian rhythm (body clock) which regulates your hormone production, body temperature, sleep patterns, and appetite. As a result, it may cause sleep disturbances. In this situation, you probably feel sleepy when everyone else is having breakfast, and you stay wide awake when people around you are falling  to sleep.


Stories of overcoming jet-lag

Quentin Long, owner of Australian Traveller and International Traveller magazines

Mr Long, annually travels between four and five return long-haul (plus numerous domestic) flights, can be considered a ‘travel professional’. He states that its effects worsen as one gets older.

His tips:

  • drink a lot of water on the flight
  • sleep if you need to sleep or perhaps use sleeping pills

Anh Dang, a current exchange student in the US

He was suffering “horrible” effects of jet lag last summer, when he had a chance to fly from the US to Vietnam to visit his parents. In the first 2 weeks, he could not sleep before 2 in the morning (that is the time when he takes nap in the US) and had to take longer nap during lunch (about 4-5 hours).

His tips:

  • Sleep or stay up in the first 24 hours when going to a new time zone
  • Then waking up or sleeping and tried to catch up with the schedule of this time zone.

This way, he felt much better after the second time.


But…. It seems to be easier to speed our internal clocks than to slow them down.

“Fortunately, jet lag is usually temporary…” says Healthy Sleep website. Since our internal biological clock gets used to external signs in the new environment, it will slightly adjust itself day by day until it is aligned with the external environment.

So, common advice for the first few days for you

  • exposure to daylight
  •  be active
  • eat and sleep at in the new time zone
  • avoid long daytime naps in order to promote nighttime sleep

And Enjoy Your Trip!

Photo by disgustipadoIan ‘Harry’ Harris and Youngtae Kim

Last modified: November 25, 2015

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