Tourists traveling to far-flung locales for their summer vacations are no stranger to jet lag. It can put a damper on the first few days of any trip as your body’s circadian rhythm struggles to adjust to a new time zones several hours away from your own. Travelers have often debated the best method to overcome the phenomenon and jump right into sightseeing bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but a new study seemingly pinpoints the best method to get over jet lag.
Scientists from Northwestern University and the Santa Fe Institute published their findings on Sept. 5 in the Chaos journal. The hypothalamus is usually in charge of setting our internal clocks in our brain, but some of the pacemakers in our organs are more responsive to food, making it harder to beat jet lag when you eat while it’s dark or exposing yourself to artificial light at night. The team looked for how to compare the many internal clocks in our body and how they each interact with each other based on various phenomena.
“Most studies primarily focus on one particular time cue or a single clock,” study co-author Yitong Huang said in a statement. “Important gaps remain in our understanding of the synchronization of multiple clocks under conflicting time cues.”
Huang and her team built a mathematical model to explore how food and light play a role in setting our internal clock network. In the end, they found that certain factors like lower sensitivity to light and weaker signals between food and light receptors in different organs made disruptions in these systems more extreme.
When it comes to getting your internal clocks back on track after they’ve been disrupted by jet lag, the researchers came to a simple conclusion.
“Having a larger meal in the early morning of the new time zone can help overcome jet lag,” Huang said. “Constantly shifting meal schedules or having a meal at night is discouraged, as it can lead to misalignment between internal clocks.”
If you’re looking to get right into your foreign vacay, prioritize a big and hearty breakfast in your new location instead of a heavy, luxurious dinner.