Jetlag is not an uncommon phenomenon with frequent fliers and cross-country travelers. Associated with conditions such as disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue, low levels of concentration and even digestive problems; it is a part of life for most international fliers.
Jetlag can occur at any time when you are covering two or more time zones through one flight. The greater the number of time zones you cross, the greater is the intensity of the jetlag and under all circumstances you will take more time to recover. In spite of being a temporary sleep disorder, it might not be that temporary for all travelers. For example, if a person flies from San Francisco to Rome for a trip of around 10 days, it takes a minimum of 6 to 9 days to recover completely. It may take up to a day per time zone crossed for his boy to adjust to the local time. Similarly, while getting back, jetlag may last for 4 to 5 days. In case of aged people, jetlag may be worse and might take longer to recover.
Even though you cannot just snap put jetlag just like that, it is helpful to make note of some simple strategies when you to remote time zones. Such strategies might just come handy in reducing the effects of jetlag altogether. But, first, we need to know how we shall be able to know that we are suffering from a jetlag – what jetlag is and what causes it.
What Is Jetlag?
Jetlag, also known as desynchronosis or flight fatigue, is a temporary physical condition that causes fatigue, insomnia, and similar other symptoms discussed above. It occurs as a result of flying across multiple time zones. It is a form of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. It disrupts the functioning of the human’s internal body clock.
What are the other signs of jetlag?
Apart from fatigue and lack of sleep jetlag is associated with other physical and emotional symptoms like anxiety, constipation, confusion, irritability, nausea, dehydration, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness, headache, diarrhea, and even memory loss. Children can be victim of similar symptoms of jetlag like any other adult.
What is the actual cause of jetlag?
The circadian rhythm is the biological clock in our body that controls our bed time and wake up time. It is this circadian rhythm that is disrupted when we fly across multiple time zones and it in turn causes jetlag. “Cues such as light exposure, mealtimes, social engagement, and activities regulate our circadian rhythm,” said Allison T. Siebern, fellow, the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center. Flight conditions aggravate the problem as well. According to a study that came in the New England Journal of Medicine in the year 2007, air cabin pressures that occur at 8,000 feet above the sea level, tend to lower the level of oxygen in the blood. This makes passengers feel discomfort and dehydration. Besides, passengers do not move about much inside aircrafts. Such situations aggravate the symptoms of jetlag.
How to deal with it?
Here are some quick remedies to tackle with jetlag:
- Stay in shape – Try to maintain fitness. Eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep. Physical fitness and stamina help you to better cope with the situation before landing. If you are suffering from lack of sleep already, jetlag can make it even worse. Therefore, you need to take special care that you are not stretching your schedule too much before flying.
- Get medical advice – You might be suffering from medical conditions which ask for regular monitoring, say diabetes, blood pressure or heart disease. In that case you must consult your physician well in advance of your departure and plan your medical chart.
- Change your schedule – It is a good idea to start adjusting your body to the new time zone from a few days ahead of your journey. It is advisable to let your body adjust to the new schedule gradually. It would save it from the shock of adjusting at one go. In case you are traveling east, you need to go to sleep early and get ready and go out with sunrise.
- Do not take alcohol – Avoid alcoholic beverages the day you fly, the day before and the day after. They usually cause dehydration, sleep disorder, nausea and uneasiness.
- Avoid caffeine – Similarly, do not take beverages with caffeine either during the flights, or before or after it. Not only does caffeine disrupt your schedule of sleep, it also intensifies your jetlag.
- Drink lots of water – During the flight keep on taking lots of water. This helps you counter the effects of the dry atmospheric conditions inside the aircraft. You can carry your own water if you are allowed to.
- Move about in the plane – Make it a point to get up and move around every two hours during the flight. Even while you are seated, stretch yourself, bend your knees, and keep on exercising. Do not take sleeping pills. Additionally, do not sleep more than an hour at a stretch. It has a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it stops from blood clotting in your legs, and secondly, it keeps you active and to some extent eases the effects of jetlag.
- Break the trip up – In case you are flying across 8, 10 or 12 time zones, it is recommended to break up your journey by halting for the night at a city midway to your destination. Therefore, in case you are traveling from New York to Mumbai, it is best if you can stop over at Paris for a few days.
- Dress comfortably – It is not important how you look. Most important is whether you are comfortable. You should not wear things which pinch, restrict and chafe. You must dress keeping in mind the weather of your destination.
- Change your watch – Once you board the flight for your new destination, adjust your watch according to that time zone. It will make you feel a lesser dislocation with respect to place and time.
It is not that you can ward off jetlag absolutely, these measures would just help you to travel safely.