Travelling opens you up to fantastic experiences, but one side-effect of far-flung jet-setting which isn’t so fantastic is jet lag.

Jet lag is the result of a disruption to an individual’s natural sleep pattern – typically caused by crossing several time zones on a long flight. The symptoms of jet lag usually continue until the body has adjusted to a new time zone – more often than not over the course of a few days.[1] These symptoms of jet lag usually include disorientation and finding it hard to function, fatigue and being unable to fall asleep.[2]

This is something many of us have experienced. In fact, one poll of 2,000 adults found that more than eight in 10 participants had struggled with severe fatigue after a long-haul flight.[3]

But there are also other contributing factors that have a part to play in determining the severity of your jet lag, as highlighted by recent research.

Research by the University of Surrey explored the link between jet lag and eating times

A study from the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey has looked into any possible connection between mealtimes and the likelihood of experiencing jet lag after travelling. In the study, 60 long-haul crew members were divided into two groups.

The first set of participants followed a regular meal plan on their days off following a long flight, while the second group had no plan for regular meals. The results found that sticking to a regular mealtime schedule played a significant role in helping the crew members adapt their circadian rhythms during their days off.[4]

Author of the study, Dr Cristina Ruscitto, discussed these results further, saying:

“Many crew tend to rely on sleep rather than earing strategies to alleviate symptoms of jet lag, but this study has shown the crucial role meal times can indeed play in resetting the body clock.”[5]

How to deal with jet lag effectively

Mealtimes aren’t the only outside factors to play a role in either worsening or lessening the impact of changing time-zones. The direction of travel, natural light levels, caffeine intake and alcohol all have a part to play in determining just how severe your experience of jet lag will be.[6]

Jet lag can be worsened by factors like stress, discomfort and air pressure. All of these factors can occur while flying, meaning that moving time zones via a plane can lead to a significant risk of jet lag.[7]

Medication is one of the main ways to effectively combat jet lag while travelling. A poll by NSF found that 15% of respondents used either a prescription medication and/or over the counter sleep aids. These were found to be an effective way to manage the short-term insomnia brought on by travel.[8]

Treatment such as Circadin can help to regulate your body’s production of melatonin – our natural sleep hormone. This will help you feel more tired when night falls, aiding your body clock in its adjustment.

You can find safe and effective treatment for jet lag here at Express Pharmacy, such as Circadin. And if you have any questions for our pharmacists, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Jet lag. 2017

[2] British Airways. Jet lag advisor. 2019

[3] Elsworthy, E. How to avoid jet lag before, during and after a flight. The Independent. 2018

[4] La, P. Jet-lag is given the swerve by adjusting meal times on the ground, find researchers. University of Surrey. 2016

[5] Ruscitto, C. PhD. accessed via La, P. 2006

[6] American Sleep Association. Jet lag treatment, recovery and symptoms. 2019

[7] Sleep Education. Jet Lag – Overview. 2019

[8] NSF. Sleep in America Poll. 2002., accessed via: National Sleep Foundation. Jet lag and sleep. 2012