Jet lag can be a difficult issue to deal with when traveling across time zones and no one wants to be drowsy while on their vacation. Jet Lag is caused when your circadian rhythm is out of sync with the environment you are in. Circadian rhythm is the internal, biological clock that drive changes within most organisms. Normally, your circadian rhythm is controlled by several factors such as exercise and melatonin levels but the most prevalent factor is light exposure. Light exposure can cause phase shifts which are changes in your circadian rhythm. With this information, scientist have shown in a recent study that you can follow four simple steps to minimize jet lag:
1. Estimate when your body temperature reaches a minimum. If sleeping 7 or fewer hours per night, assume this is 2 hours before your usual wake time. If sleeping more, assume this is 3 hours before your usual wake time.
2. Determine whether you need to advance or delay your circadian rhythms. If you are flying east (to a later time zone), such as from Los Angeles to New York, you will need to phase advance. Otherwise, if you are flying west, you will need to phase delay.
3. If you need to phase advance, avoid light for 4 hours before your body temperature minimum, and seek light for 4 hours after it. Otherwise, do the opposite.
4. Shift your estimated body temperature minimum by one hour earlier per day if phase advancing, or one and a half hours later per day if phase delaying.
Wow! This is cool. Who knew you could beat jet lag!? I didn’t! After doing some research on my own, I found even more tips! Check out this article I found to add to your repertoire of ways to beat jet lag. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20322187_3,00.html
This will prove very useful the next time I travel outside of my timezone! You mentioned that levels of light affect one’s circadian rhythm. Researchers have found that using an artificial Blue Light can prolong that feeling of drowsiness, and therefore can help with Jet Lag.