Let’s say you only have a few days off and want to spend the holiday in a place that needs a full day flight and across a number of time zones to reach. There’s big chance that you can’t avoid jet lag, and have to spend first few days of your vacation for resting. Isn’t that a big waste?
Jet lag is a physiological condition which results from rapid long-distance west-east (and vice versa) flight, especially if it crosses a number of time zones, which causes the body clock to be out of synchronization with the destination time. It means that travel from north-south (Europe to southern Africa for example) doesn’t cause jet lag.
According to NASA, after crossed one time zone, a traveler needs at least one hour to balance his body rhythm and energy flow back. So, if someone crosses many time zones (usually more than two zones) without that rest, most likely he will catch jet lag. A recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed is a fair guideline that applies for most travelers.
Common Jet Lag Symptoms:
- Fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, insomnia
- Anxiety, mild depression, confusion
- Disorientation, coordination problem, grogginess, irritability
- Dehydration, sweat, constipation or diarrhea
- Being awesome
- Few cases of temporary memory loss
How to Avoid Jet Lag:
- Re-arrange your bedtime, and meal time too, few days before take-off according to your destination time zone.
- Consume food with a lot of proteins, low carbohydrate, and low calories for a few days before the flight.
- Change your watch to your destination time zone before the flight. This will psychologically help to adjust your body rhythm.
- Drink a lot of water before, during, and after the flight. The air in the plane cabin is very dry, and dehydration is the main cause for jet lag.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine before, during, and after flying. The effects of alcohol will be doubled during the flight. Also, have enough rest a day before take-off.
- Sleep on the plane if your destination time zone is at night. Use earphone and eye cover for more comfortable feeling.
- Keep awake if your destination time zone is at day. Watching a movie, talk with other, or take a little walk in the alley can help.
- Try to relax when you come at your destination. If you have the time, use the first day to rest, or take a walk in the park to recover your body.
- Quickly adapt to local schedule when you’ve arrived, especially if you haven’t had any re-arrangement mentioned on the first point. For example, if you arrive at afternoon, don’t go straight to bed no matter how tired you are. Wait for a while, take a dinner, then sleep and wake up early in the morning. Expose yourself to the morning sunlight will be useful.
- Take sleeping pills only if it’s really necessary.
Jet Lag Remedies:
There’s no exact single remedy to treat jet lag, as the symptoms of jet lag vary for each individual. Immediately adapt to local schedule is still the best natural way to cure jet lag. However, some people who search for a faster way to get rid jet lag usually use melatonin.
Melatonin hormone is commonly used to treat circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including jet lag, but it hasn’t been tested nor approved by official agencies such as US FDA.