Jet lag. The ever present desire to eat and sleep your fatigue and head-buzz away. Without actually being able to eat or sleep your fatigue and head-buzz away, because man, our hormones are a mess. How dysfunctional a system. Flying to the west is the best, to the east is a beast, they say. The Cambridge dictionary defines jet lag as: the feeling of tiredness and confusion after making a long journey by plane through different time zones. And oh yes, confused we are, even after working crazy hours, partying all weekend, or any other cause depriving you from your well deserved beauty sleep (scientifically proven).
What is happening in your body?
As much as your mind favors to be tickled by change and adventure, your body likes to run by the same regular degular rhythm every day. We all have an inner biological clock, called the circadian clock (circum = round, dium = day). This is controlled by your hypothalamus, the part of your brain in charge of your hormones. Last year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine Hall shed light on the the effects of this biological clock. There's certain physiological responses that happen in a very coordinated way. Certain hormones released before we wake up, changes in our alertness that can happen, changes in our heart rate and blood pressure that happens at certain times of the day. And changes in different kind of hormones, to put us to sleep. As you can imagine, these clocks have major impact on how we live our lives. When the inner misaligns with the outer, we run into an error.
More than jet lag.
And apparently, we do not need to cross timezones for this error to occur. Ralf Stanewsky, a professor of molecular behavioural biology at the University of Münster and a former colleague of Hall: “You can see that more and more health issues, are boiled down to either genetic defects in the circadian clock, or by self-imposed problems, like work and jet lag” he said. “This internal timer is constantly struggling to reset to what environment people are exposed to. If you shift your clock frequently, that puts an enormous pressure on your body.”
Where do we start?
When we are misaligned, it us up to us to nudge the inner clock. We have listed the three basic pillars to grab a hold of your rhythms again.
If you are struggling to stay in the light, this the easiest point of take-off. However tired you are, get your butt a moving. As we know by now, working out lowers stress hormones, and raises good hormones, which generally leaves you feeling more balanced (energized, focussed, calm).
- Opt for at least 30 minutes of movement daily. Adjust your workout what you want to take from it. Need to stay awake? Go for something light. If you are feeling hyped and need to release energy, trying hitting a HIIT-workout. Either way, doing it in the early morning or late afternoon has the best effect on your body clock.
2. FOOD INTAKE.
The time of the day you eat has proven to have a big impact on the circadian rhythm of blood sugar levels and your metabolism, as well as your energy levels and mood. Try sticking to a set structure of three daily meals, with possibly two snacks. Don't be too hard on yourself, but try and stay put, because the more tired you are, the more peckish, but constantly grazing will make it harder for your body to find structure. You have heard this a million times, but eating around the same time really does the trick.
- Intermittent fasting or juice fasting is a really good way to reset yourself. This way, you can somewhat start with a clean slate. For example, try an early, light dinner or a juice around 5 pm, and wait with breakfast until 9 am the next day. Breaking your overnight fast with a juice is a good transition too. Find more info on trying a juice cleanse here.
This might be the hardest one to tackle, and it won't always go as you want it to. The best thing to do here is, like eating, set yourself up with a regular routine. Wherever your energy levels are, stop yourself from falling asleep too early, or going to bed too late.
- You might know this, but an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night is recommended. Find that hard? Anchor yourself with at least 4 hours of sleep at night, and if needs be, try and reach the rest though power naps over the day. Making sure they are no longer than 20 minutes. Find our other tips on sleep here.