What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is caused by flying over a number of time zones. Your bodily rhythms are disrupted by your mind being in one time zone and your body in another. The results of jet lag can be tiredness, disorientation, irregular sleep patterns, G.I. upsets and maybe more.
It is caused by the change in cycles of light and dark, which influence the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates the bodyís circadian rhythm of waking and sleeping. When they are disrupted then jet lag happens.
Generally it takes 1 day for each time zone you have crossed, so if the change in time is 8 hours it can take you up to 8 days to fully recover from jet lag. There are, however, many things you can do to ease the discomfort of jet lag. The more time zones you travel over, the worse the jet lag.
Many people have their own solutions for jet lag, here is a list of common ways to reduce the effects of jet lag.
Before You Go
Be healthy and well rested
If you are run down, unfit and unhealthy when you fly, you will find the effects of jet lag to be worse. If you are overtired when you start the journey, you will be much more tired when you arrive.
Change your sleep patterns slightly
For a few days before you go, start going to bed and getting up a little earlier if you are traveling east, or later if you are traveling west.
Plan your trip wisely
When you arrive, if you can, you should stay up until your normal bedtime of 10pm or 11pm. This is really hard to do if your arrival time is 7 in the morning. If you can, try to plan your arrival for mid afternoon. That way you are not forcing yourself to stay awake for as long.
Plan a stopover
If your journey involves two or more flights, plan an overnight stop in between the two parts of your journey. That way the effects of jet lag will be lessened.
Set your watch before you leave
As you leave, set your watch to the time at your destination. As you travel, keep looking at your watch. Keep reminding yourself of the time zone where you will be landing. This will help to accustom you to the time zone you will be living in when you arrive.
During the Flight
Drink lots of water
Dehydration will make jet lag worse, so make sure you are well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are de-hydrants and if you drink them during your flight they will make your jet lag worse.
Take small naps
Young children are reputed to suffer from jet lag less than adults and the reason is that they are used to sleeping more than once in twenty-four hours. Taking short naps during the flight will help you reduce the effects of jet lag.
There are homeopathic medicines you can take to reduce jet lag. One is called No Jet Lag and another is called Jet Zone. You take one tablet every two hours during your flight unless you are asleep.
Move a lot
Stay active during the flight and you will have a healthier trip.
Relax with music
Relaxing will help you with the flight. It is a good idea to take some relaxing music with you. If there is personal entertainment system in the back of the seat in front of you, one channel may have music on it.
After you arrive
Stay awake until bedtime
If you can possibly stay awake until your regular bedtime each day then your jet lag will not be so bad. Having a sleep early evening is about the worst thing you can do.
What time is it where you left?
Stay in the time zone where you are and donít keep asking yourself what time it is at the place you have just left or you will get yourself more confused.
Melatonin and coffee
Some people use coffee to stay awake and then melatonin to go to sleep. Donít drink coffee after 4pm local time. You can buy melatonin over the counter in the US, but if you are going to Europe itís only available on prescription. An adult dose is 3mg and a childís dose is 1mg.
Expose yourself to natural daylight
One of the best ways of acclimatizing yourself to where you have arrived is to expose yourself to natural daylight. Then your body will be at your new time zone much easier.
Use a bright light
There are natural lights you can use to help yourself be awake when you want to be awake. Just donít use them on the plane when everyone else is trying to sleep!
Donít use electronics during the night
If you wake up in the middle of the night and canít sleep, donít use electronics because the light from them will make you more awake. If you have trouble sleeping the best thing you can do is read a book because that will make you more likely to fall back asleep.
Jet Lag is Temporary
Jet lag is an inconvenience, but it does only last for a matter of days, and usually each day is an improvement on the previous one.
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