What is jet lag?
Traveling by plane is already more than practical. We enter and after a few hours we arrived at our destination. However, especially after longer flights, jet lag is often noticeable at the point of arrival. The reason: On longer flights, we cross different time zones. Our biorhythm cannot adapt so quickly to the new time zone and is therefore temporarily unbalanced. This is evident, for example, in our internal clock: this determines our individual sleep-wake cycle and tells us whether we are tired or hungry. Our internal clock is controlled by daylight.
This also affects our melatonin levels, which also have an impact on jet lag. If the level is high, we are tired. On the other hand, when it is low, we are energetic. Like our internal clock, our melatonin levels need time to adjust to the new environment.
This is how jet lag manifests itself
Jet lag is a temporary ailment and not a disease. It lasts until our biological clock stabilizes again: jetlag usually lasts no more than a few days. According to the AOK, about a day of adaptation time is needed for two time zones headed east, while the journey west takes half a day.
are signs of jet lag
- Sleep problems: those who fly west lengthen the days. Sleep is therefore delayed, which consequently manifests itself in sleep problems at night. If you travel east, your day gets shorter and jet lag results in problems falling asleep.
- lack of concentration
- circulatory problems such as dizziness
How to prevent jet lag
But what helps against jet lag? Even before you travel, there are a number of things you can do to adjust to the new time zone as best you can. Before traveling east, you should gradually go to bed earlier. If you’re traveling west, it’s best to go to bed later than usual.
During your flight you can already get used to the new times on board. If it’s there at night, you should also try to sleep. A sleep mask or earplugs can improve sleep on the plane.
Advice against jet lag
But what to do if jet lag occurs despite the preparation? Or haven’t you taken any action before and now your biological clock has gone haywire? First, you should give your body enough time to get used to the new rhythm.
When traveling west: Try not to go to bed too early. Even if you are tired, you shouldn’t lie down in the afternoon, but only in the evening. If you are particularly tired, you can also take short naps. To stay awake, get as much daylight as possible. This has a positive effect on melatonin levels and keeps you awake. So take a walk in the fresh air. However, make sure you don’t sleep for more than 20-30 minutes. You should also drink enough water to relieve fatigue. Especially after a long flight, the body is dehydrated.
When traveling east: Even if you’re not tired in the evening, you shouldn’t go to bed too late. A little meditation or an audio book will help you calm down and fall asleep more easily. Also make sure you are quiet and dark enough. Ear plugs or a sleep mask can help.