Travel Health - Avoiding jet lag
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Tips to Avoid Jet Lag
Here are some tips for the traveler to avoid getting jet lag
The main cause of jet lag is when you travel to a different time zone and do not allow the body clock time to adjust to the new cycle of day and night. Other internal functions, like digestion and temperature all adjust at differing rates, hence the basis for the mental and physical upset of jetlag. Generally, the more time zones you cross during the flight, the more that your biological clock is disrupted.
Common symptoms of jet lag include:
- loss of appetite or feeling hungry at odd times.
The body prefers traveling from east to west, and it is believed that west to east is worse for getting jet lag. When traveling wets you add hours, and when traveling east you lose hours. Our 24 hour internal body clock finds it easier to cope with extending the number of hours in the day rather than reducing the number of hours in the day. For example flying from Sydney to Los Angeles you lose hours and would be more difficult than flying Los Angeles to Sydney where you extend the day.
It has also been suggested that it takes approximately one day per time zone crossed to adjust to the new day/night schedule. Light is the major cue for the body to stay in sync with the outside world.
To minimise the effects of jet lag, try the following:
- get a good sleep before flying
- fly direct to minimise flight time
- adjust your sleep pattern before leaving to coincide with the destination (stay at your home time zone if you are traveling for less than 48 hours)
- try and sleep on the plane if flying overnight or relax during the flight if during the day
- change your watch and get into the new sleeping pattern as soon as you step on the plane
- when sleeping use an eye mask to create the best environment - pitch black
- control how often the body is subjected to light and dark depending on the time of departure
Food and drinking issues
- change eating patterns to the destination times as soon as you get on the plane
- stay well hydrated by
- accept every offer of a drink on the plane
- carry a water bottle with you and sip fluids regularly
- avoid too many caffeinated drinks; coffee, tea and alcohol
- see also travel nutrition on changing eating patterns and staying hydrated while travelling