Jet lag is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis. It occurs when people travel rapidly from one time zone to another. It upsets human body’s circadian (daily) rhythms and tends to be more severe when an individual travels towards the east zone as compared to the west zone.
Symptoms of jet lag
Symptoms of jet lag vary from person to person and depends on several factors including an individual’s age, health condition, number of time zones travelled, alcohol consumed or not, amount of sleep taken during flight and more.
The several symptoms of jet lag are as follows:
- Head feels heavy
- Lethargy, fatigue
- Insomnia/ sleepiness
- Trouble initiating and maintain sleep
- Mild depression
- Attention deficit – hard to concentrate on one thing for long
- Loss of appetite
- Gastric Discomfort
- Slight confusion
- Dizzy unsettled feeling – due to constant movements of the aircraft
Factors contributing to jet lag
Traveling can be a stressful and tiring activity. It can cause severe fatigue by the time you reach your destination. Moreover, being in a new environment can result in a feeling of disorientation. Most of the people find it difficult to sleep in a strange bed, and it may take a day or two to feel rested. The direction of travel can also influence the amount of jet lag experienced. Jetlag is more severe when traveling east than when flying west. It’s easier for your body to extend the day rather than shorten it. Jet lag can last for several days.
Tips to avoid jet lag
Before you travel
People with strict eating and sleeping schedules suffer the worst jetlag. If you’re one of them who goes to bed at 11 on the dot then you might face more issues while traveling from one time zone to another. If you work in an industry that demands frequent travelling to different time zones, consider going for a flexible sleep schedule.
- Staying up awake all night before travelling can be risky. It’s better to take complete rest before you embark on your journey.
- Try to alter your sleep and eating patterns to coincide with your destination pattern.
- Plan your flights so that you arrive in daylight. It will make you feel more like staying awake and helps to fit in with your new schedule.
- You can also plan to take a halt in the mid-way of your destination. So your body has more time to adapt to the new routine.
On the flight
- Avoid consuming caffeine heavy beverages such as coffee, cola, energy drinks, alcohol etc. 12 hours before your flight, and on the flight as well. You need to consider this seriously if you’re due to land at night. Caffeine can help you stay awake longer. However, it can disturb your sleeping pattern too and can reduce your total sleep time. Effects of alcohol at altitude include an increase in tiredness and can cause dehydration.
- Drink plenty of water onboard to keep yourself hydrated.
- Don’t take sleeping pills during flight. They will not help you to deal with jetlag; moreover, they’ll leave you feeling fuzzy when you land.
- On a long flight, move around regularly and do exercises to keep the blood circulating which will make you feel better.
- Start eating three meals a day in line with the new time zone.
- Try to get as much sleep as you normally take in a 24-hour period.
- Try to get as much daylight as you can. Daylight can help you make feel better, unless you’ve been up all night.
- Do some exercise to boost your endorphins and some stretching exercises!