As if both business travellers and those heading off on holidays didn’t have enough on their plate dealing with long waits at the airport, flight delays and cancellations, jet lag is simply another added misery that can really make or break a trip. Especially on short business trips, travellers often don’t even get a chance to recover from jetlag and are already sitting on the plane back home before their body clock adjusts to the new time zone, causing disruption to work and seemingly unavoidable stress for those affected.
But there’s good news for travellers who have grown weary of dealing with the unpleasant experience a long haul flight can bring. Recent findings seem to point to a simple way of dealing with the problem of jet lag – simply don’t eat the food offered on the flight. This is because it seems that the body has more than one clock working to manage sleep cycles. One, of course, responds to the time of day and natural light levels. The other, surprisingly, is managed by what one eats.
So by avoiding food until the last minute, preferably after you have left the plane and have retrieved your bags, perhaps even until you reach your hotel, your body will have a far easier time adjusting to the considerable time difference. This second clock was studied in mice, and seemed to override the other, keeping the animals awake until they could find food. While this knowledge may come in handy for anyone travelling on long haul flights, there is no way to combat the problem completely.
Methods such as using sleeping tablets are discouraged these days because with the swelling of limbs associated with long haul flights these can cause serious circulation problems which could even prove deadly in the most severe cases as these pills cause an almost comatose state of sleep which means less movement, something which is vitally important before, during, and after a flight.
A few other tried and tested methods to help travellers avoid the draining and unpleasant effects of jetlag include shifting their sleeping and eating patterns at least a few days before even jetting off to their destination, but this isn’t always possible as most people have a schedule to stick to, a job and other commitments which mean that any major changes are unfortunately not possible, so this new discovery could give those who are severely affected by jet lag a new hope for reducing the discomfort associated with a swift move through different time zones instead of spending the first few days of their holiday feeling stressed and uncomfortable.