No matter what long distance trip you take, jet lag will play its part in the experience. Whether it is a business trip with early meetings or a vacation that you want to make the most of, just when you need to be alert, chances are you have suffered from jet lag. Some people manage to cope with it better than others, but we all feel it to some extent, but for us here at Majestic Limousine in Monroe, NY, we are often asked a question about jet lag that has always puzzled us too, why is it when you go east and lose time, the jet lag always seems so much worse than when you travel west?
The answer to that question, it turns out, is founded in how our bodies actually work, and also shows why some people feel jet lag worse than others as well. The key is the body clock, which is not just an idea, but is actually a real thing, located in the brain, it is a cluster of cells that react to the day/night cycle around us to put out bodies into daytime or nighttime ‘modes’, that is, ready for activity or ready for sleep. Because this internal body clock resets once per day, when we travel across time zones it gets confused. If it resets expecting night time, and its actually in the middle of the afternoon in our new location, that cluster of cells becomes confused and sends out mixed signals for the body, and that is what we know as jet lag.
Some people are less affected by these mixed responses, and they suffer less effects of jet lag, but why is going east worse? That is simple, it takes longer for the body clock to catch up with a shortening day and gets more confused, compared to traveling west.
There is, unfortunately no real way to avoid jet lag, the only workable solution is to adjust your body clock as quickly as possible to lessen the impact. If you are traveling west, this means delaying your body clock, so going to sleep later before the trip can help. The opposite of course is true for going east, go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, and they can help somewhat. In addition, adding light when you wake up, even if it is dark in reality at home, can make this process more effective, a daylight lightbulb can work here.
Jet lag is unfortunately an inevitability of long distance travel, adjusting your sleep pattern beforehand can help, but it will never eliminate the problem, it is part of the travel experience.