They do say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Eating a big breakfast once travelers reach their destination could help to avoid jet lag, new research published in Chaos showed.
Researchers from Northwestern University and the Santa Fe Institute built a mathematical framework to determine how travelers can best reset themselves in a new time zone and fend off jet lag.
“Having a larger meal in the early morning of the new time zone can help overcome jet lag,” lead author Yitong Huang said in a press release.
“Constantly shifting meal schedules or having a meal at night is discouraged, as it can lead to misalignment between internal clocks.”
Jet lag, which can lead people to struggle with their sleep, experience fatigue, impact people’s mood and even cause stomach issues, is felt when a person’s circadian system is offset by changing timezones.
A person’s circadian clock sets the timing for many important bodily functions including sleep cycles, hormonal activity, body temperature rhythm, eating and digesting.
Every cell in the body operates on a circadian clock, an internally driven 24-hour rhythm that often runs longer than 24 hours. The different internal clocks reset every day being recalibrated by different factors.
For example, the brain’s clock aligns with the sun’s cycle and can be disrupted by too much or too little sunlight exposure while the peripheral organs are regulated by mealtimes.
Therefore, beginning the day with a hearty breakfast can help travelers reset their circadian rhythm and adjust to a new timezone, researchers wrote.
“Conflicting signals, such as warm weather during a short photoperiod [the period of time within a 24-hour time frame that light is available] or nighttime eating — eating when your brain is about to rest — can confuse internal clocks and cause desynchrony,” Huang explained.
The researchers also noted that older travelers are more likely to need a few more days to perk up than their younger travel companions as common symptoms of aging, such as weaker signals between circadian clocks and a lower sensitivity to light, make the body more vulnerable to these disruptions.
So don’t skip out on that continental breakfast — especially you, older jet-setters.