Jet Lag

Jet Lag

Jet lag occurs when you travel across multiple time zones and have trouble adjusting to the new schedule. After traveling a long distance by air, your circadian rhythms may still be aligned with the previous time zone and you may not feel awake and alert when you need to do your job. The severity of the jet lag depends on how many time zones you crossed and your body may expect to sleep when it is daytime in the new time zone or be awake when you are supposed to sleep.

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Causes of jet-lag

Jet lag is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Your circadian rhythms are your body’s internal clock that signals when you are supposed to feel sleepy or alert. Your circadian rhythms operate on a roughly 24-hour schedule

The body’s natural pattern is upset, as the rhythms that dictate times for eating, sleeping, hormone regulation, body temperature variations, and other functions no longer correspond to the environment, nor to each other in some cases. Melatonin production is high during the evening and very low during the day. As a result, you are alert during the daytime and sleepy at night. Traveling across multiple time zones can disrupt your circadian rhythms to the degree that the body cannot immediately realign these rhythms, it is jet lagged.

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Jet Lag can be Worsened by:

– Air pressure or poor air quality: Some research shows that changes in cabin pressure and high altitudes associated with air travel may contribute to some symptoms of jet lag, regardless of travel across time zones. In addition, humidity levels are low in planes. If you don’t drink enough water during your flight, you can get slightly dehydrated. Dehydration may also contribute to some symptoms of jet lag.

– Sleep loss due to travel.

– Spending a long time sitting in an uncomfortable position, such as in an airplane.

– Stress.

– Caffeine and alcohol use.

Your body uses sunlight to determine how much of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin it produces.

Pilots, flight attendants and business travelers are most likely to have jet lag due to their lifestyle.

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Symptoms of Jet-Lag

Jet lag from traveling across time zones can be difficult to cope with. You may feel fatigue as you are expected to be awake and alert for your daytime activities. The more time zones a person crosses in a short period, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be especially if you travel eastward.

Complaints Related to Jet Lag Include:

  1. Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness

  2. Daytime fatigue

  3. Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level

  4. Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea

  5. A general feeling of not being well

  6. Mood changes

Tips to Help Minimize Jet Lag:

Jet lag does not usually require treatment. Older adults are likely to have more severe jet lag, and may need a much longer time to recover. There are remedies and behavioral adjustments that can help you to prevent jet lag:

  1. Arrive early, if you have an important meeting, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust.

  2. Get plenty of rest before your trip. Starting out sleep-deprived makes jet lag worse.

  3. Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination.

  1. Regulate bright light exposure. Because light exposure is one of the prime influences on your body’s circadian rhythm, regulating light exposure may help you adjust to your new location. After you reach your destination, make sure to open a window or go outside during the daytime to expose yourself to sunlight. This will help you adjust to the new time.

  2. Melatonin supplements can help your body adjust to jet lag by adjusting your circadian rhythms. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland and considered a signal for when your body is supposed to sleep.

  3. Minimize caffeine and alcohol consumption caffeine and alcohol use can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. It is recommended that you avoid these substances while you are on the airplane.

  4. Exercise some studies have shown that moderate exercise helps adjustment to the new time schedule.

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  1. Sleeping pills. Your doctor can prescribe for you a hypnotic sleeping pill to help you get rest at the proper times when you first reach your destination or to help avoid sleep deprivation during the flight.

  1. Stay on your new schedule. Set your watch to the new time before you leave. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until the local nighttime, no matter how tired you are. Try to time your meals with local mealtimes too.

  2. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air.

  3. Try to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination. Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help block out noise and light. If it is daytime where you are going, resist the urge to sleep. Read, talk with other passengers, watch a movie, or walk the aisles to avoid sleeping at the wrong time.