The Jet Lag Calculator: Your Guide to Avoiding Jet Lag
Whether you’re flying across the country or across continents, jet lag is something all travelers have to deal with at some point. Leisure and business travelers often experience disruptions to their body's circadian rhythm, daytime fatigue, stomach problems, mood swings, and a general feeling of being unwell. Fortunately, solutions do exist—one in the form of a jet lag calculator. Want to learn more about it? Keep reading below. In this article, we'll provide tips, tricks, and free resources you can use to access the tool.
How Does the Jet Lag Calculator Work?
Need help shifting to your destination’s time zone? A jet lag calculator uses your origin and destination to work out by how many hours you’ll need to adjust your body clock. The tool, which is also known as a jet lag rooster, can include information such as when you need to expose yourself to bright light, when to avoid light, and when to sleep.
British airlines even created their own jet lag calculator to help travelers avoid the effects of jet lag. The platform was designed with the help of UK’s leading sleep expert, Dr. Chris Idzikowski. Calculations are based on factors such as your average hours of sleep, the body’s minimum temperature (MinT), travel direction, and bright light exposure.
What Is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that occurs when you travel across multiple time zones in a short period. This happens because your body’s circadian rhythm or your biological clock remains synced with your original time zone, and needs to catch up with your new time zone at your destination.
As a reminder, the circadian rhythm controls your body’s sleep-wake hours by sending signals that cause you to feel drowsy or alert according to the time of day. When you travel, your body’s circadian rhythm takes time to adapt. While it’s adjusting, you may feel sleepy even though it’s still early in the day or feel wide awake in the middle of the night.
The effect of jet lag is more severe if you cross multiple time zones, however, you can still experience its symptoms even if you don’t cross several time zones. This is because your body is affected by cabin pressure and the atmosphere.
Though temporary, jet lag can cause discomfort and affect your day-to-day activities. In the next section, we learn more about how it affects us.
Symptoms of Jet Lag
Jet lag symptoms vary from person to person. Some may experience a few mild symptoms, while others can experience the opposite. The most common symptoms you should be prepared for are:
- Fatigue during the day
- Temporary sleep disorders such as insomnia or restless sleep
- Excessive drowsiness
- Constipation, diarrhea, and other stomach problems
- A general feeling of uneasiness
- Mood changes
- Lack of concentration or impaired functioning
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Jet Lag?
The severity of your jet lag often depends on how many time zones you’ve crossed. It can also affect how long you take to recover. In general, jet lag can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.
How To Avoid Jet Lag
The good news is that there are ways to minimize or prevent jet lag. The key is taking steps to synchronize your circadian rhythm with the time zone of your destination.
For shorter trips, you can schedule your activities in a way that allows you to maintain your body’s original circadian rhythm. This will reduce jet lag-induced sleep disruption during your trip and once you return.
If you’re on a longer trip, you’ll have to gradually reorient your circadian rhythm according to your destination. Here are a few tips for doing so:
Light has the biggest influence on the body’s circadian rhythm. To reduce jet lag and shift the body’s internal clock, make sure to get plenty of natural and artificial light (whichever is more easily accessible) during the day. This will help your body become in sync with the time zone you’re in so you feel more alert when you’re exposed to light and sleepy when darkness sets in.
Melatonin governs your circadian rhythm and makes you feel sleepy. Produced in the evening, melatonin production ramps up a few hours before bedtime and is also affected by light exposure. Jet lag can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm by altering the natural production of melatonin, which can disrupt your sleep pattern.
Fortunately, prescription medication or synthetic melatonin supplements and sleep aids can increase the body’s melatonin levels and help you maintain an appropriate sleep schedule. You can also take dietary supplements that will boost your natural melatonin levels.
Begin Changing Your Sleep Schedule Before You Leave
Gradually changing your sleep pattern before your trip gives your body clock time to adjust to your destination’s time zone in advance. You can start by going to bed and waking up a few hours later or earlier depending on your destination.
If you’re unable to do this, you may want to give your body a day or two to adjust after arriving. You can plan an easy schedule on the first day that allows you to take a nap whenever needed. That way, you can avoid feeling jet-lagged during the more important parts of the trip.
How Sandland Sleep Can Help
Sandland Sleep herbal supplements can help you cope with jet lag and adjust your body clock. If you’re flying west and need to reset your body clock to a later time, you can take these supplements in the morning and vice versa. Made with CBN (cannabinol), melatonin, terpenes, and peppermint, Sandland Sleep can help you fall asleep fast and stay asleep throughout the night.
Though it may differ on a case-by-case basis, jet lag is generally worse when traveling east as opposed to journeying west.
Create a jet lag plan with specific measures such as:
- Arrive in advance to give your body time to adjust.
- Rest as much as possible before your trip.
- Regulate light exposure before and during your trip as well as after you arrive.
- Gradually adjust your sleep schedule before traveling.
- Sleep on the plane if it is nighttime at your destination.
- Try to follow the time zone at your destination.
- Stay hydrated and eat well before, during, and after your flight.
You can also use a jet lag calculator to create custom recommendations for adjusting to your new time zone.