Jet lag is a troublesome condition that occurs when the body's internal clock becomes unnaturally disrupted when entering a significantly different time-zone, with reduced sleep quality the most notable effect. While jet lag can never be fully avoided after certain journeys, its effects can be minimised by following some simple tips.
Understanding the body's circadian rhythm and its reaction to environmental factors such as light and noise exposure is the first part of dealing with the effects of jet lag. When travelling into a different time-zone the body is taken out of its natural cycle, and the production of energising and relaxing hormones - usually delivered over a 24-hour period - becomes out of sync with the local environment. This results in either extreme tiredness and an urge to sleep during the day, or a feeling of alert activeness at night. If this isn't dealt with it can last for several days and really spoil the enjoyment of being abroad.
It's best to get into the local time-zone as soon as possible, and you can even do this before you travel. Try changing your normal bedtime in the days leading up to the trip - if you're travelling east go to bed an hour earlier, while if you're going west stay up an hour later. This will help lessen the impact of jet lag on arriving.
A stressful flight can be a remarkably demanding experience, so be sure to make yourself as comfortable as possible, making use of pillows, blankets and other accessories. Ear plugs, eye masks and noise-cancelling headphones are great ways to 'tune out' the busy aircraft cabin atmosphere. Stay hydrated and don't stay in your seat for the entire duration of the journey, take a walk up and down the aisle to stretch your legs.
Getting plenty of sunlight is one of the most effective ways to become energised, as it contributes to the production of stimulating natural chemicals. If you're arriving during the day, try to spend some time outside, as this will increase alertness and give you the best chance of staying awake until the night-time.
By taking account of the unusual conditions that jet lag forces upon the body, you can alleviate the worst effects and quickly adapt to new time-zones without any suffering.