Frequent travelers and fliers are familiar with Jet lag which leads to a lot of problems such as fatigue, stomach disorders, poor concentration and proper functioning of the body due to a disturbed sleep. While dealing with jet lag through at once might not be possible, it is more practical to lessen its symptoms with a few simple measures.
A jet lag can happen when a person travels to two or more than two time zones. The more time zones one crosses the more are chances of a jet lag. The symptoms would also be more intense. Even though Jet lag is not a permanent disorder it can take more than a week to recover completely. It takes time because for each time zone crossed it can take at least a day for the body to get used to the local time. Rapid travelling changes body’s circadian rhythm and the biological clock which controls our sleep which disturbs and desynchronizes body’s internal as well as external clock. Jet lag is worse when one loses time and travels west to east. Among adults jet lag takes maximum time to recover. Another aspect of the Jet lag is the air cabin’s pressure causing lower oxygen levels making the body uncomfortable and dehydrated. Also in a plane one can’t really move much.
- Sleepiness or sleeplessness
- Fatigue and digestive disorders
- Memory lapse
- Increased irritability
- Pain in the back and head
Dealing with Jet Lag
- Adjusting the new schedule before hand
When travelling East it is always better to shift the bed time earlier, at least half an hour early for a few nights before leaving. Doing opposite when travelling West is the key. It is also advisable to adjust meal times close to the time zone of the destination.
- Starting to adapt to the new time zone when in flight
The first thing to be done when entering the plane is to change the watch. Doing this would be more of a psychological thing, to start getting used to the destination’s time zone. Sleeping on the plane is also helpful if the time zone would be completely opposite when you land. However to force sleep is a bad idea and can cause further problems. So in case you can’t sleep just take some rest.
- Arriving before time
It sounds impractical but if you arrive at the new place a few days in advance you will get more time to recover from the jet leg and start with your work in a fresh state. The body and mind will get more time to adjust.
- Avoid getting dehydrated
In order to counteract dehydration it is recommended to drink plenty of water before, after and during the flight as dehydration is a common problem associated with jet lags. Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided before the journey as they can disturb the sleep cycle.
- Stay physically active
It is important to stay physically active before and during the flight. Light exercises such as static exercises and stretching are good options. One can easily do some stretching on the flight but once arrived, heavy exercises must be avoided as they can interfere with the sleep.
Melatonin helps in regulating the circadian rhythm of the body to enable us to sleep properly. Research has shown that it can cure east and west jet lags both. Taking 2 to 3 mg of melatonin an hour before sleeping time of the new time zone with a plan to sleep for more than 9 hours would be effective enough. It takes some time for the dose to enter the blood stream after being absorbed. It is however not a long term solution. The doctors might also prescribe other kinds of medication.
- Eating properly
Some people who fly frequently follow jet lag diets as well which includes eating a rich or heavy food before a few days of journey or not eating anything at all during the flight. But so far there is no diet that has been proven effective in curing or preventing jet lags. However t is recommended to avoid carbs and fats in the diet.
- A hot shower just before bed
A shower or bath with warm water helps easing out the sore muscles that one can get travelling. It also relaxes the body and the body temperature goes down which makes us sleepy.
- Minimizing distractions
While travelling sleep distractions are more than at home. Eye masks and earplugs are always available on the flight which can help you sleep on the flight.