What Is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a sleep disorder in which the body’s own circadian rhythm (body clock or internal biological rhythm that tells it when to sleep or wake up) is altered due to a very fast long-distance trip in a high speed passenger jet aircraft.
It is characterized by a feeling of tiredness and confusion along with a sudden need of the body to adjust to the time zone of another country.
If you are flying from east to west, the time zones are very much different. It is generally accepted that the symptoms are worse when traveling east. One explanation for this is that the body can adapt more easily to a longer day than a shorter one. When we go west, we gain time. Flying east causes the body to feel like it’s losing time.
Jet lag is a common issue among airline pilots, crew and travelers. Indeed, many airlines have detailed guidelines aimed at fighting pilot and crew fatigues caused by this problem.
The jet lag condition may last a few days before somebody is totally adjusted to the new time zone. It is said to be harder to advance sleep time than to delay it. Normally, a recovery period of one day per time zone crossed is a rule.
The term “jet lag” is used for the simple fact that jet airplanes travel so fast you will feel like they leave your body rhythms lagging behind and you are having a feeling somewhat like a hangover.
In contras, if you traveling far but within the same time zone, you’d still be tired from the act of travel but your body clock would be on the correct local time and you would not find yourself beset by jet lag.
When flying long distances, jet lag is definitely inevitable. What’s good is that there are some simple ways to lessen (or even avoid) falling foul of this common sleep disorder.
How To Minimize Jet Lag
- A few days before traveling, try adjusting your sleeping habits to the time zone of your destination. If flying to the east, best to advance the time of your sleep. Likewise, if traveling west, sleep time should be delayed accordingly.
- Reset your time to the time zone of your destination upon boarding the plane. In this way, you can adjust earlier and won’t get confused of the time.
- Sleeping while on the flight still depends on the person and the duration of the flight. If you want to sleep while traveling on a plane and you cannot afford a business or first class seat that has wider spaces and deeper seat reclines, better try getting seats with better legroom (the distance between two seats). It is always best to seek out wide spaces to stretch your legs especially on longer flights, This also helps to avoid the onset of phlebitis – swelling of the legs – or, even worse, leg thrombosis (blood clots in the veins of the legs)
- If you don’t want to be disturbed and want a good view outside, choose a window seat. And if you’re the type who wants to get up and walk a lot, get an aisle seat. It is actually best to move and walk around as much as possible while on a flight. Bring your own travel pillow for a more relaxing position.
- Avoid seats at the back of the plane as this section moves more when the aircraft hits a bump. You won’t be able to relax as much. Also, most of the seats here do not have the ability to recline.
- Turn off cell phones and other electronic gadgets if you want to sleep more soundly and without interruption.
- Bring along earplugs to lessen any noises that might occur. Consider a sleep mask too to cover the eyes if you are a person too sensitive to light.
- Though cocktail drinks can help you to sleep, getting intoxicated can cause dehydration and loud snoring and even trouble breathing. Also, it may cause you to make more trips to the toilet and thus is responsible for disrupting sleep further.
- Get hydrated with water or juices but do so in moderation as, like with alcohol, consuming too much of any liquid can cause you to use the rest room more often.
- Take vitamins with sleeping effects for longer flights but not a sedating drug as it may make one feel drowsy upon waking up. It might be tempting to swallow a couple of Valium but it’s simply not worth it.
- Experts advise no caffeine intake before the flight as this can also cause deep vein thrombosis not to mention it can also interrupts your sleep.
- Try getting at least two hours of sleep upon reaching your hotel or destination. This tip should not be underestimated. A power nap can have amazing restorative properties.
- Take a one hour walk immediately upon waking up to allow daylight to reset your body clock.
- Do some exercises too to get blood circulation flowing back to normal.
- Eat at least three meals a day to get in line and stronger for the new time zone.
Travelers often find themselves in trouble trying to get to sleep when their bodies are supposed to wake up and are then forced to get up and moving at what feels like the middle of the night.
To repeat what was mentioned earlier, we find it easier to deal with a longer day than a shorter one. Allow for that day of recovery per time zone. Understand that you cannot avoid het lag completely but you can certainly make things easier on yourself.
So, in order to deal with jet lag, why not try these tips that we discussed here with you today?
And another helpful tip in closing: buy a pair of jet lag glasses with hi-tech specs to better alleviate jet lag issues.
In today’s global village, flying across the world on a regular basis is unavoidable for many of us. Take this advice on board and you will find coping with that old enemy jet lag to be far less taxing.