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Jet lag? Tips of one of our science advisors to avoid the nasty effects

We love to go on holidays, a lot of people want to go as far away as possible to beautiful nature, beaches and explore new cultures. It’s fun but, if you have a jet lag, the first days are a bit less fun. With some good preparations you can almost avoid getting a jet lag.

First of all, we need to know where a jet lag is coming from. It’s the result of the difference between our biological clock (e.g. sleep wake cycle) and other rhythms like the actual time of day, the time when the sun sets and rises. If you travel to another timezone your biological clock is still stuck in the old one and your behaviour in the new time zone doesn’t match with your inner clock anymore.

The short term effects are sleep deprivation which leads to tiredness and you might feel moody and aren’t able to focus properly. You can even get some stomach or gastrointestinal issues.

Here are some tips and tricks to reduce your jet lag:

  • Let your biological clock get used to the new time zone a week before you fly. If you fly to the west, you can lengthen your day in steps by going to bed a bit later each day, take your meals later in the evening stay longer in the light and keep it dark in the morning. If you fly to the east gradually shorten your day, three hours before you go to bed stay in dim light and if you wake up get out into bright light.

  • Take a power nap, if you are very tired take a small nap of half an hour

  • If you are for short periods in different time zones, try to keep the time zone of your home. Don’t try to shift your biological clock.

Photo credits: De Gelderlander



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