Jet lag is caused by a number of factors experienced when crossing two or more time zones. The body’s internal clock known as circadian rhythms become disrupted. Circadian rhythms regulate the wake and sleep cycles of the body.
A change to the body’s rhythms are impacted by number of environmental factors including; sunlight, cabin pressure, atmospheric changes and direction of flight. For example, you may find it takes longer to recover from jet lag when flying East of your location. This is because you lose time, as opposed to flying West, when time is gained.
Jet lag can last up to six days with symptoms including; nausea, disorientation, irritability, difficulty in concentration, headaches and feeling light headed.
There are a number of studies recommending the use of light therapy to assist those experiencing jet lag. Light therapy involves exposure to artificial light sources for a regulated amount of time during the waking hours. It is said exposure to sunlight in the evening assists to adjust to a later than usual time zone (traveling West), whilst morning light exposure can assist to adapt to an earlier time zone (traveling East). Jet lag can be more severe when traveling East, as the body finds it easier to ‘gain time’ than ‘lose time’ by traveling West.
Manipulation Of Sleep Patterns
When traveling West the recommendation is to go to bed one hour later for several nights prior to departure. If traveling East, head to bed one hour earlier for several nights before departure. Additionally, by eating meals closer to the time you will be eating at your destination, this action is said to further assist in minimizing jet lag.
Adjustment To Schedule
On departing the local time zone, begin to align with the new time zone, causing minimal impacts to the body. On arrival at the destination resist the urge to align with the old time zone. Eat meals and sleep in the new time zone. If possible, sleep on the airplane if its night time at the final destination. Conversely, if its daytime at the destination, resist sleeping.
Consume plenty of water from the moment you leave home. Regular hydration counters the effect of jet lag. Environmental factors including dry cabin air and cabin pressure changes can impact your jet lag symptoms for the worse. Where possible, avoid coffee and caffeine type beverages as well as alcohol, as these drinks can impact an ability to sleep.
Do you have a cure for jetlag?