Jet Lag

Jet lag is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis. Jet lag can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a plane. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body's circadian rhythms hence, it is classified as a circadian rhythm disorder. Jet lag symptoms tend to be more severe when the person travels from westward compared to eastward.The symptoms begin within 1 or 2 days after air travel across at least 2 time zones.

Jet lag symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Decreased daytime performance
  • Tired muscles
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness
  • Altered apetite
  • Stomach problems
  • Increase in the frequency of nocturnal awakening to urinate
  • Generally feeling unwell

Which direction of travel is worse for jet lag? Which is worse, east-west or west-east?
Jet lag is normally more severe when traveling eastwards.
If you travel eastward the chances of more severe symptoms are greater, because the day will seem longer.

If you land in London from Chicago at 10 pm London time, it is still 4pm Chicago time. Come midnight it will be hard to sleep, because for your body clock it is still 6pm (not bed time). However, if you land in Chicago from London, by 10pm you will find it easier to get to sleep, because 10pm in Chicago is 4am in London - for your body clock, if you live in London it is very late to be awake. A good night's sleep helps recover from jet lag more quickly.

Experts say that drinking alcohol during your flight may result in more severe jet lag symptoms when you arrive at your destination.

Treatments and prevention

  • Physical fitness and health - studies have found that people who are physically fit, rest properly and eat a well balanced diet tend to have fewer and lighter symptoms than other individuals.
  • Medical conditions - if you have a medical condition, such as a lung disease, heart disease or diabetes, make sure your are following the treatment plan. Having a medical condition under control helps minimize the impact of jet lag.
  • Dehydration - during your flight make sure you have plenty to drink, preferably water. Alcohol or caffeine will not help your symptom, in fact, they will make them worse.
  • If symptoms are usually severe - if it is possible, consider doing your tip more slowly. This could mean stopping along the way for a couple of days, or travelling by ship.
  • When in Rome - as soon as you arrive at your destination change your routine to local timetables immediately. This will speed up your body clock's adaptation to a new environment.

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