Jet Lag Easing & Prevention Strategies

Filed under : Disease & Disorders

Jet lag could surface at any instant one travels swiftly athwart duo or more time zones throwing an individual’s circadian rhythm (biological clock that aids in controlling sleep and waking up) out of whack.  Greater the number of times zones crossed, more the likelihood of one experiencing greater intensity jet lag symptoms like sleep disturbances, weariness during day times, problems in concentration & operating, abdominal issues, sluggishness, sleepiness.

Jet lag is a fleeting sleep disorder though not that transitory enough for a number of air-travellers. It could take nearly a day’s time for every time zone travelled across for our bodies in adjusting to the local times. For those going east-to-west could expect experiencing jet lag for 4-5 days – around ½ the numbers of time zones one journeyed across. Jet lag is usually worse when one loses time touring west-to-east.

The pressurization of air cabins at thousands of ft. in air lowers oxygen supply in the blood and makes travellers discomforted & causal to dehydration. Also movement is lesser than usually done when one flies. This could augment jet lag symptoms & additionally disrupt circadian rhythm from re-synchronization.

Jet Lag Remedies
  • Those who plan to travel eastward should begin to shift bed times sooner by about thirty minutes for numerous nights prior to leaving. In case one is due to travel westward then the contrary should be done. One could even attempt to move food times nearer to the time one would take them on reaching destination.
  • People once getting on flight should be changing the time of their watches as psychologically it would help them in getting into the mind frame what they would do in their targeted location. While on the flight one should attempt getting some slumber in case it is going to be night where one is planning to go or staying wakeful in case it is day time in the targeted location – however avoid forcing oneself into sleeping as it could be frustrating and thus preventing sleep. In case this occurs, simply try resting whenever doable.
  • For staying ahead of one’s game during events at targeted location, one should ideally be travelling a couple of days sooner so that one adjusts mentally and physically.
  • Drinking ample water pre, post and all through the air travel for counteracting dehydrated feeling. Also evading alcoholic or caffeine-based drinks a couple of hours prior to sleep time since they could hamper snooze & making the person dehydrated.
  • Getting up & walking about at regular intervals, engaging in static exercise forms & stretching while flying is highly recommended. However, on landing do steer clear of engaging in rigorous exercising close to bed times since it could postpone slumber.
  • Innately produced melatonin in the body assist in regulating circadian rhythm so that one sleeps during night-times. However, the adjudicator is yet out on the efficacy of intake of melatonin in supplemental form for combating jet-lagged feeling & promoting snooze. A number of studies have found that it could allay jet lag when flying east-to-west, though some trials haven’t proven a gain. Intake of three mg melatonin 1-2 hours prior to bed-time at one’s targeted location & planning to get snooze for ten hours is recommended since it takes into consideration the 1-2 hours required for its absorption & entry into the blood plus ten hours of snooze. Melatonin use seems safer in using for the interim, however effects of long-standing use is unknown. In case one is keen on trying melatonin then firstly discussing it with your physician is recommended.
  • One could opt for innate light therapy and being exposed to the sun’s rays would help in regulating a person’s circadian rhythm. On any westbound flight, try getting vivid dusk light in one’s targeted destination, avoiding noon & dusk light-exposure. When on eastbound flight, evade being exposed to early dawn light & getting ample noon & early dusk light. Doing so helps in shifting circadian clocks thus proffering restfulness & awakening at apt time at one’s targeted location. Light box also obtainable in markets could assist in managing jet lagged feeling when employed at apt time. However, one should ensure that light is not that concentrated or moving circadian clocks in the erroneous direction since it could lengthen span of feeling jet-lagged. Light box is unadvisable for several individuals having cataract or bipolar disorder.
  • Several people who fly frequently vouch by jet lag diet types – like heavy consumption for some days prior to air-travel & going a fast during the day one plans to fly. None of such diet types have established efficacy for jet lag prevention, but consuming carbohydrate-rich or high-fat dietetic intake near bed times is not recommended since it could hamper snooze.
  • Taking a tepid bath pre-bedtime is one of the best jet lag remedies which could sooth muscle soreness due to travelling & assist in relaxing & unwinding.
  • One could lessen any distraction to sleep by using eye masks or plugs when flying.
  • Generally it is unnecessary to seek therapy for jet lag, however in case the above approaches fail in working for a person then a physician might give prescription or advice medicines to be taken transitorily to assist one in sleeping or promoting alertness when needed. For the frequent flyer community for whom jet lag is an issue, they could seek help of sleep specialists, physicians or psychologists who are trained in sleep medication and could provide assistance in moving circadian rhythms towards novel time zones.
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