There is no escape from jet lag: why daytime naps are the worst approach to adjust

Taking a long-distance flight certainly means fighting the effects of jet lag from fatigue to stress to difficulty concentrating (file image)

Taking a long-distance flight certainly means fighting the effects of jet lag.

Symptoms can vary from fatigue to stress and difficulty concentrating, which can hinder both a business trip and a vacation.

While we are all looking for a quick solution so that we can get through our day, it turns out that there is no such thing.

There is no cure for your biological clock and your time zone is not synchronized, but there are tips you can follow to minimize this consequence of distant travel.

Dr. Joseph Ojile, founder of the Clayton Sleep Institute in Missouri, reveals why it takes days to adjust, why "traveling west is the best" and how a glass of wine on the plane can worsen the effects of jet lag.

Taking a long-distance flight certainly means fighting the effects of jet lag from fatigue to stress to difficulty concentrating (file image)

Taking a long-distance flight certainly means fighting the effects of jet lag from fatigue to stress to difficulty concentrating (file image)


Jet lag, also known as time zone change syndrome, occurs when your body travels quickly through time zones.

You have traveled faster than your body's ability to reset its internal clock, which is known as your circadian rhythm.

This is particularly difficult if traveling from west to east, such as from San Francisco to New York.

When it's 11:00 p.m. M., Eastern Time of New York, and you know you should go to sleep, your body tells you that it's really 8 p. M., Pacific Time.

"The general rule is" East is the minimum and the West is the best "when it comes to travel and jet lag," Dr. Ojile told Daily Mail Online.

"It's much nicer to go west because you land and you're effectively staying awake before going to bed.

"But when you go east, it's your night, but it's morning, so you have to get up and get moving."


Our biological clocks are synchronized with the changes between light and dark and regulate multiple physiological processes, including body temperature patterns, brain activity and hormone production.

There are two internal body clocks that regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

The first is called the impulse of homeostatic sleep, which balances sleep and wakefulness.

A chemical byproduct called adenosine accumulates in the brain the longer it is awake and, while asleep, adenosine breaks down.

Not getting enough sleep can leave you with high levels of adenosine and make you feel numb and dazed.

"The way I like to teach people how to conduct the homeostatic dream is to think of it as a jug of water," said Dr. Ojile.

& # 39; You and me, our early morning vigil is like a full jar. But throughout the day, you pour that vigil, so at the end of the day you're tired again.

The other clock is our daily or circadian rhythm, which is located behind the optic nerves in our eyes, in a region of the brain.

Light is the main signal that influences circadian rhythms. When the sun rises, the brain sends signals to the pineal gland to suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls when you are awake and when you go to sleep.

But when the sun goes down, the pineal gland receives signals to secrete melatonin to numb it

However, if your body does not receive these signals, your circadian rhythm can be completely ruled out.

Normally these clocks are aligned. But, because they work in very different ways, they can be out of sync when you travel.

Your adenosine levels can be very high because you have slept very little, but your circadian rhythm is telling you that it is a day due to sunlight. This makes it difficult to fall asleep.

"His peak of wakefulness comes when he tries to sleep," said Dr. Ojile.

"Those two clocks are out of sync with each other and they need a little time to get back in sync.

"At 4.30 a.m. or 5.00 a.m., you usually sleep in the US But if you're in Paris, you'd be walking because it's daylight, so you're doing activities at the worst possible biological moment."


We all know the common symptoms of jet lag that include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and even changes in mood.

But it can also cause physical changes in our bodies.

A 2010 study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley found that chronic jet lag leaves changes in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memories and the ability to learn.


Attempts have been made to help those who experience jet lag to adapt more quickly to their new locations.

A study conducted last year by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that a group of cells in the eye communicates directly with the brain.

By altering your signaling through eye drops, this could help you adapt to a new time zone, the researchers said.

And, this year, a high-tech sleep mask was launched to the market using light-flash technology, developed by researchers at the Stanford University Medical School in California.

The mask sends pulses of light, similar to a camera flash, that stimulate the light-sensitive nerves in the brain that send signals to suppress or produce melatonin.

"There is honesty in saying that you can not [jet lag] disappear, but there are things that you have control over that can make it less problematic to travel and enjoy, "said Dr. Ojile.

"Sometimes it's good to know if we have a certain degree to change the result, to be able to say:"Hi, I can participate in this and improve it. "

And a study just published today from Toho University in Japan found that jet lag could trigger diabetes.

Losing a single night of sleep affects the liver's ability to produce insulin, which helps control blood glucose levels.

This increases the risk of developing diseases related to metabolism, such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.


We have all been told that when we are adapting to a new time zone, we should stay awake until it is time to go to sleep in our new time zone and wake up when it is morning to "restart". our circadian rhythm.

This, however, does not work.

If you drive or travel by bus or train, your body has the ability to adjust gradually to changes in time zone.

However, our bodies have not adapted to the point where we can quickly change those rhythms. In fact, our bodies are only able to adjust to one or two changes of time zone per day.

So, if you travel through three time zones, you may need up to three days to fully recover. But why is it taking so long?

A 2013 study from the University of Oxford conducted on mice found that about 100 genes are activated in response to light and work to "re-tune". your internal clock.

However, there is a molecule, known as SIK1, that works to limit the effects of light on the watch, which prevents the body's clock from resetting.

When the scientists blocked the SIK1 activity, the mice were able to adjust more quickly to changes in the light cycle.


"You can do many things to relieve jet lag, many things to minimize your effects, but there is no easy" cure "for that," said Dr. Ojile.

One recommendation he makes is to start resetting your intern; body clock before your trip.

"Start going to bed early, two or three days before your trip, and then get up at 5 or 6 in the morning," said Dr. Ojile.

You start moving the clock of your time and then, when you travel, if you travel from West to East, you are only three time zones back instead of six.

Dr. Ojile says that there are also melatonin supplements that you can take, which can help you sleep.

Another adjustment you can make comes while you are on the plane.

"I would recommend avoiding alcohol and avoiding heavy meals and fats," said Dr. Ojile.

Get on the plane and have something light to eat, something healthy. These heavy foods can exacerbate jet lag because suddenly it's 3 o'clock in the morning in your brain and the day you land.

"It not only helps you feel slow but also helps you not get enough sleep on the plane."