Y.You just landed on your flight across the pond. You grab your bag and race off the plane with adrenaline and excitement, ready for a new adventure in a new city. You pick up your taxi at the hotel and remember, Maybe I should sleep first. The next thing you know is that you wake up eight hours after midnight and the next few days are filled with fatigue, stomach problems and general discomfort.
Jet lag entered the stage.
Leading experts in the field of travel and health define jet lag as “disconnection between the internal human circadian system and the time of the new destination”. As a result, many of our psychological, physiological, and behavioral patterns become confusing over time.
“The body has a general rhythm that is based on our physiology and indicates things like hormones, metabolism, etc.,” said Amy Bender, director of cerebellar clinical sleep science and an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Calgary. “Circadian rhythm is like a master clock that controls or influences the rhythms of the body.”
Traveling through time zones creates a change in this rhythm, especially when we lose or gain three or more hours.
“When the internal master clock does not align with the external clock of your destination, it creates a discrepancy in all your physical rhythms,” explains Dr. Bender. “That’s the focus of jet lag.”
Tim Defrancesco, DPT, owner of TD Athletes Edge in Boston, says he often felt like a shaking snow globe when traveling with the Los Angeles Lakers as head of team strength and conditioning. “Every time we crossed or changed with the region, it was like shaking that snowglobe up, down and around,” he said. “It was the hardest part of the job for me. Once or twice each season, I would wake up in a hotel room and grab a piece of the hotel in the nightstand to make sure I was in a hotel and town.”
Fortunately, there are a number of proven ways to deal with jet lag, such as slowly changing your sleep time over a few days, avoiding alcohol and setting yourself up before your trip to stay asleep within 20 minutes.
But what about the work can it even help combat the effects of jet lag? Multiple studies and experts have looked at the question, and the answer is yes. This is probably due to the well-known effects of exercise as a natural stimulant for increasing energy levels and an effective self-regulating technique.
To make the most of any sweating session on the road, it is helpful to use a few targeted techniques.
Adjust your workout time for the biggest benefit
In a published study Journal of PhysiologyResearchers have examined whether exercise results in a reversal of the effect on circadian rhythms by taking about 100 subjects through three consecutive days of moderate treadmill exercises and this is the key that makes this study unique – one in eight days or nights.
They found that the exercise, in general, changed the circadian rhythm but was able to identify when it was most effective. Exercising between 7am and 1am to 4pm local time results in the biggest step forward (i.e. the time to go to bed and the time to wake up goes before the day). Meanwhile, exercising between 7 and 10 hours results in the greatest delay (i.e., the time to go to bed and the time to wake up later in the day). The latter would be ideal from west to east (to deal with progress in time) and from east to west (to deal with subtraction in time).
The effects of exercise at this time were similar to those achieved by about one hour of exposure to bright light, which is thought to be one of the most effective ways to control circadian rhythms due to the connection between light and sleep control systems.
Speaking of which: what about exercising in bright natural light? There is limited evidence that it may help improve sleep quality and hormonal responses, but more research is needed.
Intensity to make a difference?
When you are traveling, you are already dealing with multiple pressures. Andrew Barr, owner of Quantum Performance, DPT, who works with the NBA’s Brooklyn Net and specializes in eliminating jet lag and how travel fatigue potentially affects injury risk and performance, should not be added to any of the exercises you are doing. .
“You want to bring the intensity of the exercise back to a low or moderate level because you want to limit the extra stress,” he said. Think: a brisk walk, a gentle yoga session, or cycling down the street where you are going. “If you stay in the new destination for an extended period of time, you will be able to ramp up to a higher intensity as you adapt to the changes.”
If you only have one short trip, consider whether it’s worth the hassle of adjusting. “Generally, if you have less than three days, I would not recommend trying to adapt at all because you will have to re-adjust when you leave, so it doubles as work!” Dr. Barr said.
But if you want to get your body accustomed to local time, try these techniques on your next trip. Hopefully instead of waking up in the middle of the night in confusion, you will have a peaceful, harmonious morning, ready for whatever adventure awaits you.
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