The Science of Jet Lag and How to Beat It

Big trips are typically exciting, whether you’re taking them for business, pleasure, or an athletic event. Unfortunately, traveling can sometimes cause issues. Jet lag is typically experienced when lengthy air travel is involved. Traveling a long way opens a world of wonders, including new towns, cultures, and experiences. However, jet lag is an unpleasant sidekick that it also brings. Crossing many time zones can make you feel like a sleepy, nocturnal animal in the middle of the day, regardless of how experienced a traveler you are.

What is Jet Lag?

Anyone traveling a lengthy flight that traverses time zones will experience jet lag. Even if your hotel has the most excellent mattress imaginable, you will still feel sleepy during the day and have a hard time falling asleep at night. The first night effect, in which your body works against you to prevent you from obtaining a restful night’s sleep while you’re in a new place, can combine with it.

After flying a great distance quickly, many people encounter frequent sleep issues and other symptoms called jet lag. Your body’s “internal clock” or circadian rhythm requires some time to adapt to the new sleep and wake cycles at your destination when you fly across more than two time zones. A specific kind of circadian rhythm sleep disturbance is jet lag. After a lengthy flight that takes you from one time zone to another, your body’s internal clock becomes out of sync, which results in jet lag. Your body often needs a few days to acclimatize to the new time zone, which can cause you to feel sleepy during the day yet alert at night.

Jet lag drains your energy, throws you off balance, and may even cause you to lose your appetite and libido. Experts believe February 1966 may have been the year “jet lag” was first used. Jet lag results from airplanes moving so quickly that your physiological rhythms are left behind. Humans have only recently developed the ability to travel across time zones, and we are still trying to figure out how to adapt. An interference with our bodies’ internal clocks causes jet lag. Our circadian rhythms, which anticipate dawn and nightfall and regulate everything from blood pressure to how hungry we are, are driven by our biological clocks.

What Causes Jet Lag?


  While it is true that changing time zones is one of the main reasons for jet lag, it is not the only one, contrary to popular belief. They claim that traveling east instead of west makes the jet lag worse. Often, folks with a set schedule suffer the most from jet lag. Jet lag does not affect children under the age of three, and this is because their bodies are more adaptable at this age.

Condition before the flight contributes to jet lag. 

Your physical state before the travel significantly impacts how much jet lag you endure. You will experience difficult jet lag if you are anxious, stressed, exhausted, and/or inebriated even before your travel. Therefore, it is advised to have a good night’s sleep before taking off rather than planning on sleeping throughout the journey.

A dry atmosphere causes jet lag.

  Jet lag can also be brought on by a dry environment, creating dry throat, nasal, and skin membranes and increasing your chance of getting the flu, a cold, a cough, and a sore throat. Due to this, you should consume a lot of water throughout your flight and refrain from drinking tea, coffee, juices, or alcoholic beverages. Since your body is not used to such pressure, the nearly 8,000 pounds of cabin pressure in an airplane can make you feel tired, exhausted, and swollen.

Jet lag can be caused by stale air.

  Another factor in jet lag is stale air. While providing fresh air can be expensive for airlines, the business class typically has better air quality than economy class. Headaches, tiredness, and irritation can all result from your body not getting enough fresh air.

Alcohol and coffee have a substantial effect when onboard an airplane.

You should be aware that alcohol’s effects can be up to three times stronger in an airplane, making just one drink during your flight equivalent to drinking three regularly. So, if you drink alcohol while flying, you risk getting a bad hangover and experiencing jet lag symptoms. Furthermore, tea and coffee are served on an airline, which might be uncomfortable for your stomach because they contain more caffeine than usual. Therefore, you shouldn’t attempt strong tea or coffee during your flight if you don’t regularly drink them. Due to the confined space you must sit in, your abdomen will be under increased strain during the journey. So, consuming these drinks or any other hefty food is not recommended.

The absence of exercise contributes to jet lag.

Lack of activity is another significant contributor to jet lag, as sitting still for the duration of the trip can be painful and contribute to jet lag. Therefore, try to stretch your legs by taking a short stroll across the aisles. Try to shower as soon as you arrive at your destination because it can freshen you up, tone your muscles, and get your circulation flowing, making you feel better.

Tips to Overcome Jet Lag


  You can lessen the symptoms of jet lag even if you won’t totally recover from it until your circadian rhythm adjusts to the new time zone. Many of these suggestions also help prevent travel tiredness, dehydration, and exhaustion on lengthy journeys.

Be ready.

  Some researchers are investigating if anticipating jet lag can help us prevent it. They believed that changing your internal rhythms before the journey is crucial for many people to arrive with little to no jet lag. When going east, you must utilize the light box in the mornings so you can wake up earlier each day and take melatonin in the afternoon for a few days before the trip. The body can fully acclimate to the new time before the journey by doing this for the number of days equal to the number of time zones that will be traveled. However, according to Eastman, most people use fewer days, which reduces jet lag upon arrival and helps you recover from your residual jet lag faster. Experts advise using the light box at night and possibly taking melatonin in the morning when traveling west.

Leave the house feeling rested. 

  It takes a lot of work to fly halfway around the world. You probably won’t be healthy for the first portion of your journey if you depart exhausted after a stressful last night and a crazy farewell party. Before I discovered this crucial tip, an early-trip cold was frequent on my trips. Plan your trip as if you’re going two days earlier than you are. Even if it means being busy in the days leading up to your fictitious departure date, keep that final 48-hour sacrosanct. After packing, you have two calms, ordered days to prepare physically for your flight. You’ll feel mentally at ease about leaving home and beginning this trip.

Quickly adjust to your new time zone.

  Try to rapidly forget your previous time zone once you reach your destination. However, if you have a manually set watch or travel clock, set those to the new time as soon as you leave. Your technology will update clocks automatically. If you keep eating and sleeping following the old time zone, you’ll need help when you reach your destination. According to the local time, eat your meals and go to bed.

Take advantage of the flight to rest.

  One thing that in-flight movies are great for is nap time. You can get some rest on the transatlantic flight and be ready to go when you land. Reset your thoughts and watch when the pilot declares that it is now European time. Avoid extending jet lag by constantly checking the time in your home country. Be in your current time zone.

Schedule sleep time.

  Make sure to get some rest when your new schedule permits. Try to rest while in the air since your aircraft can be in the air at your destination at night. Eye masks, earplugs, white noise, noise-canceling headphones, cozy travel pillows, and blankets are a few items that will help you have a good sleep. If you arrive during the day, resist the impulse to nap. Taking short naps during the flight, may result to difficulty to fall asleep. 

Hydrate yourself with water.

  Dehydration may happen during long trips, and you might want to drink less water, during your flight to minimize trips  to the restroom. However, if you want to minimize jet lag, you need to reconsider this decision. According to experts, drinking enough water can help you combat exhaustion brought on by travel and jet lag. You can bring an empty bottler water bottle that you may fill up inside the terminal, to avoid hassle in the security terminal or you may purchase at the terminal and upon request during flight. Continue to consume a lot of water once you get there.

Expose yourself to light.

  When you travel and switch time zones, your exposure to light changes, which disrupts your internal clock. To lessen the effect of sleepiness, experts advised, going outside in the sun to stimulate your body and to help lessen the release of sleep-inducing melatonin hormones. If you need to wake up and start working earlier when you fly east, exposing yourself to morning light will be beneficial. If you go west, you may need to remain up later in your new time zone, so having additional light at night can be helpful.

Drink something caffeinated.

  While coffee won’t cause your jet lag, it might help you stay awake and attentive during the day. According to one study, 300 mg of slow-release caffeine improved alertness among eastbound travelers. Caffeine can be found in cocoa, coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and even chocolate. Before ingesting these drinks, be sure to bear in mind additional ingredients they may include, such as sugar. Caffeine should be consumed in moderation or not in the afternoon and evening. You don’t want to experience trouble sleeping because of both jet lag and excessive caffeine use.

Keep your sleeping area cozy.

  While traveling, ensure your sleeping conditions are cozy and conducive to sound rest. Verify that you can set the thermostat in your room to a relaxing, cold setting for the duration of the night. Ensure that no clocks or phones will beep or ring while trying to fall asleep. You can ask the hotel receptionist to transfer any calls to a phone service if necessary. Bring familiar items from home to improve your sleep. Try to find something small to take with you if you want to use a fan or white noise machine while you sleep. Bring any additional lightweight comforts you might need to fall asleep, including a familiar scented lotion, a family portrait, or a favorite throw blanket.

Think about remedies for jet lag. 

  Ask your doctor if a sleep aid can help with jet lag-related insomnia. When you’re still getting used to your new surroundings at night, sleep aids could help you obtain more rest. Consider using this assistance when flying. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of this remedy, keeping in mind that sleep medications have adverse effects. Jet lag symptoms throughout the day may not be lessened by sleep aids.


   To maximize performance while traveling, avoiding jet lag for people who frequently change time zones is essential. You must plan your trip by knowing which direction you’re headed (East-West) and how many time zones you’ll pass to keep your circadian rhythm balanced. Sleeping on some flights might be more advantageous while staying up on others. The amount of daylight left and how to align your circadian rhythm with the target time zone will determine these decisions. Eventually, jet lag goes away when your body’s clock adjusts to your new time zone. Still, occasionally, it can take too long for your body to adjust. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen or even altogether avoid jet lag. But it does require effort. And although jet lag is a taxing side effect of air travel, researchers claim that people who have overcome it are living proof of this.