Jet Lag is a disturbance in the body cycle and sleeps patterns that occur due to frequent travelling, long flights or other journeys, and change in time zones. Its major symptoms are disturbed body cycle, sleep deprivation, mild depression, headache and harassment. It happens when the body clock is not able to synchronise with the changing time zones and affects the sleeping and eating patterns. Jet Lag continues to disturb until the body adjusts with the new environment.

Key Takeaways:

  • Jet lags are the disturbance in the body cycle, sleep and eating pattern due to frequent change in the time zone. 
  • Jet lags happen until the body cycle adapts to the time zone of the new environment. 
  • Jet Lag prevention or treatment depends on the new time zone, whether a person is travelling to the later time zone or earlier.
  • The exposure to sunlight helps the body cycle to reset itself sooner. So light therapies or exposure to artificial lights help in shifting the body cycle to an earlier time zone.
  • While travelling to later time zone exposure to evening lights help.
  • Melatonin, sleeping pills are also effective in preventing jet lags. The time at which it is consumed is important. 

Jet Lag is generally temporary and does not require serious treatment. However, for people who are frequent travellers, jet lag can cause frequent discomfort and affect their lives. So to prevent or treat jet lags, doctors prescribe some medicines that induce sleep and advise against consuming alcohol or caffeine during the flight as it further disturbs the sleep cycle. However, the medicines only help in the night jet lags as it stimulates the sleep. In order to reduce day jet lag, a person needs to be awake and exposed to light so that the body could adjust to the new sleep timings.

Therefore, doctors also prescribe light therapies, melatonin, and certain home remedies.

In order to prevent jet lag, a person should start practising the sleeping and waking time according to the local timings of the destination. If a person is travelling to an earlier time zone, he or she should start sleeping and getting up early two or three days before the flight.

Light Therapy:

The body cycle is stimulated by the sunlight and resets itself so that one can sleep after a particular span of time. So when a person travels from one-time zone to the other, the body cycle needs to adapt to the timings of the daylight in the new time zone.

When a person is travelling eastward or to an earlier time zone, he or she should increase exposure to natural light. If a person is travelling to a later time zone, the light exposure should be decreased so that the body cycle might consider it as evening and set itself in a way that the night sleep is not disturbed.

Therefore, to reduce jet lags, it is advised to increase the exposure to the natural light, if possible, (according to the new time zone) to allow the body cycle to reset. Otherwise, exposure to artificial bright lights, lamps or a light visor worn around the head can help in providing the effect of daylight and keeping the person awake until the body-cycle shifts to the new time zone.

Caffeine and Alcohol:

In order to reduce jet lags, caffeine and alcohol should be avoided. They affect the sleep cycle and offset untimely sleepiness. For example, if caffeine is taken in the midday, it makes it difficult to fall asleep at night and later lead to morning sleepiness.

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Melatonin:

Melatonin has proved to be an effective medicine for jet lag. It creates an effect of darkness in the body such that the body cycle can adjust itself accordingly. However, the time at which melatonin is taken is very important. Melatonin should be taken at night if the person is travelling to the later time zone. So the body clock will receive the darkness signal from the melatonin and adjust the body cycle towards sleep time. But when a person is travelling to the earlier time zone, the melatonin should be taken in the morning.

Melatonin has some rare side-effects like dizziness, headache, daytime sleepiness etc. It should not be consumed with alcohol or caffeine.

In order to reduce day jet lag, a person needs to be awake and exposed to light so that the body could adjust to the new sleep timings.

Diet:

Although diet has not proven much helpful for jet lags, certain food habits do induce sleep or increase alertness. For example, the consumption of high-protein food will help in case a person travelling to an earlier time zone needs to be awake and alert. Besides, carbohydrates will induce sleep if a person is travelling to a later time zone.

Feasting and fasting on alternative days are also practised to deal with the jet lags.

Prevention tips before arriving at the new time zone:

In order to prevent jet lag, a person should start practising the sleeping and waking time according to the local timings of the destination. If a person is travelling to an earlier time zone, he or she should start sleeping and getting up early two or three days before the flight. And if a person is travelling to a later time period, he or she should sleep and get up late. This will help the body to fuel the adaptation to the new time zone.

What to do after arrival?

After arrival, a person should start adjusting to the new time zone by sleeping and waking up according to the local time. Besides, he or she should avoid heavy food or strenuous exercise. Maximum exposure to the sunlight will help the body cycle to adapt to the time zone easily.

Picture Credit: Healthytravelblog.com

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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