3 Surprising Facts About Jet Lag

Jet lag isn’t the best way to start a vacation – it’s disorienting, exhausting, and can cause you to lose your appetite.

If you’re feeling a little bit groggy in the afternoon or you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, you can blame it on your brains “master clock” – the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which controls the body’s circadian rhythm. This “clock” responds to external signals, such as sunlight, to sync your internal timing with the timing of the environment.

The distance you travel and wherever it is that you’re traveling to can affect how well your body responds to these changes. Here’s a few facts you may not have known about jet lag.

Recovery Takes Longer Than You Think

According to a 2016 study published in Chaos, researchers found that the one-day recovery method doesn’t exactly work.

Researchers claim, when traveling west, that it would take three to four days to recover from crossing three time zones and six days to recover from crossing six times zones. When traveling east, however, the adjustments periods are even longer. It would take more than four days to recover from crossing three times zones, and more than eight days to recover from crossing six time zones.

Flying Isn’t The Only Cause Of Jet Lag

Jet lag may happen while jet setting, but changes in your social schedule (even when you’re just sitting at home) can cause your body’s internal clock to fall out of sync. This is known as “social jet lag,” which often occurs when your weekday schedule differs from your weekend schedule.

For example, if you’re used to hopping in bed at 10 p.m. every night and waking up at 5 a.m. every morning during the workweek, but you go to bed around 1 a.m. and wake up at 10 a.m. on the weekend, then this can cause a mismatch between your biological clock and the actual time.

Eating Can Affect Your Biological Clock

Jet lag doesn’t just creep up when you wake up or finally fall asleep for the night. Unfortunately, jet lag can also (subtly) mess with your body.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Surrey found that changing the time of day that a person eats can shift the rhythm of blood glucose levels, which means you might be able to slightly alleviate your jet lag if you have dinner or breakfast at a different time than you normally would.

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