Traveling to a new destination is always fun and exciting, but it is also very strenuous on our bodies and minds. Jet lag can be a drag after a long flight, especially when you’re ready to fall asleep and the city you just landed in is having their morning coffee. Experienced travelers know different flights cause different types of jet lag, for example flying from London to LA is pretty awesome but Japan to San Francisco no bueno. Recently scientists have discovered new causes behind jet lag, and what makes flying west to east much worse on the body than flying east to west.

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Scientists recently developed a model that mimics special time-keeping cells in the body and offers a mathematical explanation to the jet lag phenomenon. The hypothalamus, deep inside our brain, is your internal clock which uses light input from our environment to set our sleep schedules. Bright signals wake us while dark signals trigger sleep. Thus flights across time-zones scramble our internal clocks as a result of our brains trying to adjust to the new surroundings.

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According to Dr. Michelle Girvan, from the University of Maryland, traveling westward lengthens the day making it easier on our internal clocks. Conversely flying eastward shortens the day challenging our internal clock due to the light intake. Common sense and researchers suggest travelers adjust their sleep schedules before heading to a new destination which, intern, will lessen the effects of jet lag. So keep that in mind the next time you plan a vacation to South Africa. Eat your breakfast in the morning and your dinner at night.