We live in a world of frequent travel. Jet lag is a condition that can occur when traveling by air across time zones. The medical term for jet lag is known as “desynchronosis”. Simply put, jet lag affects the body’s internal clock. Many people are affected by jet lag when they travel. It can harm your travel plans and even affect your physical health. There are several things you can do to help lessen the symptoms of jet lag.
Cause of jet lag: The cause is due to crossing time zones. We have 24 time zones worldwide. In the United States we are divided into four zones; eastern, central, mountainous and peaceful. When you travel, your body has a hard time adjusting to the new time zone. It will adjust but it is a process. For example, if you travel from New York to California, your body still believes you are in the New York time zone. This adjustment struggle is what creates the symptoms associated with jet lag.
To understand more clearly, you need to know how the biological clock works. Humans operate on a 24-hour cycle. This is known as a “circadian rhythm”. The hypothalamus found in the brain is an internal clock. Regulates many functions, including determining the time of day. This is done in conjunction with visual perception of the eye. The signals are affected and the result is jet lag.
Jet lag symptoms: The clear symptoms of jet lag are fatigue and insomnia. Less known symptoms may include; dizziness, nausea, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and headaches.
Recommendations: Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages. Before flying, you should stay away from these types of stimulant products. Alcohol can make you feel dehydrated, which can intensify jet lag in some people. Healthy Eating: Avoid overeating a few days before flying. You must eat well and give your body the nutrients it needs to eat and energetically. Eating lightly on the day of your flight is also helpful. Avoid excess fat or carbohydrates the night before traveling because it can affect your sleep. Keep doing this for a few days after your flight to make sure you get the best sleep possible.
After the trip: Sleep: You need to get enough sleep after traveling. There are many things you can do. Make yourself more comfortable by taking a warm bath. This helps your body relax and make you feel sleepy. Sleeping aids, such as face masks or ear plugs, can be helpful. Minimize distractions and keep your room as dark and quiet as possible to induce sleep. If it gets more severe and you can’t seem to sleep, you should see your doctor, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. He or she may prescribe medication to help you sleep. There are also trained “sleep specialists” who can help with jet lag symptoms.
Change your schedule in advance: The adjustment rate for feeling normal again is generally one day per time zone. Let’s say you will cross many time zones, for example a trip from New York to London. You can start a small adjustment before you leave for your trip by trying to adjust your daily schedule an hour a week or so before traveling. This will reduce the impact and intensity of jet lag that some people experience.
Jet lag is a common and often unpleasant effect of travel. With proper planning, you can help reduce the negative effects and have a more positive travel experience. Whenever you make diet or lifestyle changes, always check with your doctor, especially if you have an illness or are taking prescription medications.