Jet lag (or desynchronosis, as it is medically called) is a condition that occurs because of changes in the body’s circadian rhythm, resulting from hurried long distance trans-meridian commute on an airplane. Certain annoying and distressing symptoms tend to develop when you travel from west to east or east to west.
A jet lag may last for more than a few days until you get fully adjusted to the new time zone. The problem of jet lag gets more pronounced for pilots, crew, and regular commuters. In fact, airlines have certain specific regulations that are aimed at battling pilot fatigue caused due to jet lag.
Jet Lag Symptoms
Jet lag is manifested as:
- Fatigue and exhaustion: you feel tired, disoriented and have reduced concentration for any activity calls for skill, such as, reading, driving or discussing business.
- Sleep disturbance: you may awaken at night or may find it difficult to get sleep.
- Irritation: annoyance and impatience is rather common.
- Headache: dry air in the aircraft can trigger headaches, dry your skin and cause nose blocks.
- Swollen limbs: this commonly seen; and may last for up to 24 hours after you’ve landed.
- Diarrhea: may develop due to microbes contaminating your water or food.
What Are The Causes Of Jet Lag?
- The chief cause is crossing time zones. Typically, traveling east is far worse than traveling west.
- In case you are already exhausted, tired, stressed, excited or nervous, prior to your flight, you will be prone to a jet lag.
- The air in an aircraft is dry; for people who live in humid weather conditions the change is quite conspicuous. The dry air triggers headaches, nasal blockage and throat inflammation.
- High levels of pressure are another significant cause; which sets off swelling, weariness and lassitude.
- Aircrafts lack adequate amounts of good quality air. Shortage of good air makes you tired and ill-tempered.
- Having alcohol on the flight is a major cause as well.
- Airline teas and coffees have higher than usual caffeine content and are abrasive on the stomach. Furthermore, beware of unsafe foods that are served on some airlines in some parts of the world, like, cold meat, salads, and fish.
- Cramped positions set you up for a longer period of jet lag.
How To Overcome Jet Lag?
- Reset the watch to local time.
- Have a protein loaded breakfast; it helps you stay alert and awake.
- Stretch yourself in the plane, every half an hour.
- Get some exercise; a good option is a walk outside during the day to get fresh air and enhance mobility.
- Take a nap, but do so before 2 p.m. and sleep for only 1 hour.
- Even if you feel like sleeping at 5 p.m., hold out till at least 8 p.m. so that you won’t wake up too early the next day.
- Consume a high carbohydrate meal, it makes you drowsy.
- Hit the sack at the local bedtime, even if you don’t feel sleepy.
- Avoid sleeping till late, even if you haven’t slept well.
- Do stretching exercises in your seat, or walk up and down the aisle. In case you have an unused seat next to you, put your feet up.