Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jet Lag

Jet Lag can mean: Fatigue, Disorientation, Lack of concentration and motivation, Broken sleep after travel, Dehydration, Discomfort of legs and feet. Jet lag is the curse of modern jet travel, resulting in decrease in working efficiency and holiday enjoyment, often for days after arrival.

The most important cause of jet lag is rapid change across world time zones. The time difference disturbs our body clock (circadian rhythm). This in turn affects body temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure and physiological patterns, leading to disorientation and mental and physical fatigue. It appears that the secretion of an amino-acid derivative hormone, Melatonin, influences the body's clock. Melatonin is manufactured in the brain during periods of darkness to promote sleep.

Sitting idle for long periods in flight causes discomfort and possible swelling of the legs and feet, and the dry atmosphere in airliner cabins can cause body dehydration. Altitude and pressure changes at each landing and takeoff also upset body systems, and although airliner cabins are pressurized, these changes are a significant cause of jet lag.

The effects of jet lag may be made worse by excessive eating and consumption of alcohol in flight, by loss of sleep, and also by being tired but these are not specifically causes of jet lag. Children under three don't seem to suffer jet lag badly, as they are more adaptive and less set in their ways. Adults who adjust readily to changes of routine also seem less susceptible to jet lag. Those who are slaves to a fixed daily routine are often the worst sufferers.

Most of the time, our body's clock corresponds to our daily schedule - which is why we wake up at the start of the day and go to sleep at the end. When we travel across time zones, however, all of a sudden our body's clock and the "external" clocks are out of order. When we fly from New Delhi to Los Angels, for example, the clock in our hotel may say it's 7 p.m., but our body thinks that it's midnight and time to be sleeping.

Jet lag usually is worse when you're traveling west to east, since you're 'losing' time due to the way the time zones are." So flying from Japan to New York may be even harder than the New York to Japan flight. Jet lag can make you tired and forgetful. It disturbs your sleep schedule, so you may have trouble falling asleep or wake up too early. In some cases, people who have jet lag feel irritable, lose their appetites, or even have digestive problems such as heartburn or indigestion.
Some of the common symptoms of jetlag includes Common symptoms of Jet lag include fatigue and general tiredness, Inability to sleep at night, Loss of concentration, headaches and general malaise.

To help your body prevent from jetlag, try to arrange your flights so that you land sometime in mid evening. That gives you enough time to unwind, eat a good meal and get to bed by 11:00 P.M
Maintain a consistent sleep pattern before the flight.
Airplane cabins are dry, and a lengthy trip can cause dehydration. Dehydration worsens jet lag, and alcohol consumption worsens dehydration. "Alcohol is one of the most potent dehydrators. So avoid taking alcohol while traveling in plane.
Try to sit on the side of the airplane that's exposed to the most amount of sunshine.
Three days before departure have a relatively high-protein breakfast and lunch and a supper high in complex carbohydrates to stimulate the body's daily cycle of activity and inactivity.
Drink lots of water on any flight - a generous cup of water every hour would be ideal.
Get a hot moist towel immediately start breathing through it - this brings wonderful warm moist air into your lungs and helps rehydrate that part of you as well.
Before taking your trip, take vitamins A, C, E, and the mineral selenium. This will help protect you against free radical damage caused by radiation during the flight.
Adjust your sleep routine to the new time zone before you leave home.
Take up to 8 mg of melatonin at bedtime at your destination. This is very useful for jetlag.
Before flight do not exhaust yourself or do not exercise with full stomach.
Getting extra sleep before traveling can help a long way toward helping you feel refreshed when you arrive.
It's not exactly easy to move around on the plane, but keeping active will help you stay energized and refreshed.
Spending sometime outdoors in the sunlight when you arrive at your new destination will help your body clock adjust more quickly to the change.
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