Is the term “jet lag” real? You bet it is! Of course, it depends on which way you are traveling. It’s easier for Europeans to travel to the USA than the other way around. Reason being? The 6-9 hour time difference makes a big difference in your body’s reaction.
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What Exactly Is Jet Lag?
If you’re not sure exactly what jet lag is or why you could use a few tips to help you overcome it, here’s a good example that will put it all in perspective. You’re traveling from New York in the States to Italy and arrive at 8:00 am local time. New York is currently six hours behind Italy so your body is telling you it’s 2:00 in the morning and why aren’t you sleeping?
But you’ve just arrived in beautiful Italy and the day is just beginning. You leave the airport with your luggage in tow and – bam – you are immediately digging out your sunglasses from your carry-on. The sun is out and the air is crisp… okay, a bit dramatic but I think you get the point. It will take a little time to adjust your body’s rhythm. Everyone adjusts to this disorder differently and if you are one of the lucky ones? Kudos to you!
The Science of Jet Lag
During each 24-hour cycle, your body’s temperature, blood pressure, and glucose levels fluctuate. These important features are all run by your internal clock. This “clock” is directly linked to the light you take in through your eyes.
When you are at home, the sunlight you are exposed to day to day is very close to the same amount. This is how our “circadian rhythms,” or our internal clocks stay balanced. When traveling a long distance, the change to our internal clocks is significant. The change in when your body is used to being in light versus dark disrupts your clock and creates havoc. It is said the number of days you will be jet lagged will equal the number of time zones you cross.
Tips Before Traveling
It’s not foolproof and again, people adjust and react differently to jet lag but here are a few helpful hints that just might make your next trip to Europe a bit easier on you and your family.
Jet Lag Tips Upon Arrival
- The best tip to combat jet lag upon arrival at your destination is to stay outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. Plan to do something outside and not indoors. You need to keep your body moving and push yourself just a bit. Try and stay active and awake until the evening. Even if you go to bed early that first night, that would be alright. Fight the urge to check into your hotel or BnB and get under the covers.
- Another trip is to not over-schedule your first few days with activities. You need to allow yourself this and make sure there is some “downtime” on the itinerary.
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Do children get jetlagged?
The answer is “yes.” Children suffer from jet lag but adjust more easily. Make sure you keep them hydrated and they should follow your lead.
Most everyone suffers from jet lag to a degree. Follow these few tips and perhaps you can overcome some of the nightmare stories you hear people suffer on their long-awaited vacation trips.