Until recently, many believed that feeling dreadful after a long-haul flight is the result of simple travel fatigue and the stress of making a long trip. Instead, studies have shown that jet lag is in fact the body’s natural response to the unnatural process of travelling across time zones in a short period. Our circadian rhythm – the same internal clock mechanism that tells birds when to sing – is knocked out of sync by our irregular exposure to daylight.
Just as birds have been shown to adapt to the artificial conditions of city life, we humans are able to cope better with jet lag if we work smartly with our surroundings. This comes as a great relief to those who don’t wish to start their holiday with a hastily assembled cocktail of ill-advised over-the-counter remedies. The key is to control our sleep by hacking the system that regulates it: spending the day outside on arrival is a great way to force our body to acknowledge the new time zone, as exposure to the sun communicates the change in conditions to our body clock.
When it does come time to hit the hotel room for some sleep, it is important that that sleep is both good quality and well thought-out. This means taking familiar steps such as relaxation exercises and cutting out distractions to ensure a good night’s sleep (at least four hours to anchor you in your new routine), but it also means avoiding daytime naps of more than 20 minutes at a time. It’s great to top up your daily sleep total with powernaps, but not for so long that they ruin the night ahead’s sleep – or keep you out of the daylight for too long.
For a host of other natural ways to ease your body into its new surroundings, check out this new guide to natural jet lag-busting techniques to ease your mind, body and soul into your vacation.
Embed This Graphic On Your Site:
National Sleep Foundation (2016). Jet Lag and Sleep. sleepfoundation.org
Hunter, S. (2013). City Life Causes Faster Circadian Rhythm In Birds, Study Shows. huffingtonpost.com
Reddy, S. (2013). The Perfect Nap: Sleeping Is a Mix of Art and Science. wsj.com
Explainer Video by Explainer Labs
Motion Graphics & Animation by Square Ship