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six tips to combat the effects of jet lag

You landed two days ago, but you still seem out of energy? No doubt you are jet-lag. The advice of a doctor specializing in sleep to combat this phenomenon.

It’s every globetrotter’s nightmare. As soon as a flight crosses more than three time zones, the human body is disturbed and reacts. He suffers, among other things, from great fatigue, insomnia, digestive disorders and irritability. This is called “ circadian arrhythmia », commonly called jet-lag after the English term. The good news is that it is harmless to the body. The bad news is that it could still ruin a few precious vacation days. Unless you follow the advice of Laurent Lacassagne, pulmonologist sleep specialist at La Clinique de l’Union, Ramsay Santé.

Anticipate a departure to the east or to the west

Have you recovered easily from your last trip to New York but are struggling to resynchronize since your return from Singapore? “It’s normal“, according to the doctor. “The effects of jet lag are not the same whether you travel east or west“. And for good reason, it is more difficult to advance a circadian cycle than to delay it. In other words, it is more difficult to fight against insomnia than to resist a desire to sleep. It is therefore better to anticipate and start to get your body used to it gently. Two or three days before heading east, go to bed an hour earlier than usual and get up an hour earlier. Reinforcing an early awakening by using natural light or a light therapy lamp in the morning can also help. Do the reverse if heading west.

Match the arrival time

From the first minutes of the flight, you set your watch to the time zone of your future destination“, suggests the health professional. And we try to follow this new rhythm as quickly as possible. For example, we adapt to meal times. Even if it means swallowing a snack even when you are not very hungry, or doing a little violence by waiting an hour longer than planned for dinner. Same thing with sleep. If you land in the evening, avoid oversleeping on the plane so you can enjoy a good night’s sleep when the time comes. Conversely, if you arrive in the morning, take advantage of the trip to rest and thus be in good shape for your first day.

On the other hand, in the event of a stay of less than three days,it is better to avoid synchronizing to the time zone of its future destination“. We keep our watch on French time and we change our sleep habits as little as possible as well as the time of our meals.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle while traveling

Healthy living is also essential to surviving jet-lag. During a long-haul flight, one avoids too rich a diet which risks upsetting an already disturbed organism. Indeed, the atmospheric pressure plus uncomfortable position combo can disturb digestion. As for alcohol on board, Laurent Lacassagne strongly advises against it. “It disrupts sleep and dehydrates the body“, he recalls. In absolute terms, however, you should drink a lot of water (about two liters per flight for a ten-hour flight). Wear compression socks (you will be less tired)

The ideal is still to play sports. If putting on your sneakers after a ten-hour flight seems inconceivable, “yet there is no better remedy to stretch your legs and recover from jet lagexplains the doctor, again distinguishing between traveling east and west. If you have just arrived in Bali, prefer sports sessions in the morning, taking advantage of the sunlight to wake you up well. If you wake up in Montreal, the ideal will be to plan your session rather in the afternoon or early evening to delay your bedtime.

Avoid sleeping pills

The specialist is categorical:prefer the combination of daylight, sport and lifestyle to recover from jet-lag than the use of sleeping pills or melatonin tablets (sleep hormone)“. Moreover, it authorizes the latter only in the event of severe sleep disorders. His instructions: only on arrival and for a maximum of three nights.

Predict his return

To make the most of the beaches of the Philippines, you decide to book your return ticket for Sunday evening, without thinking about the meeting on Monday morning. “big mistakeexclaims Laurent Lacassagne. According to him, it is better to shorten your stay by one or two days to have time to recover, rather than returning to work barely rested.


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