Jet lag is a feeling of tiredness, experienced after flying across time zones. The rapid travel disturbs the normal biorhythm of the body; as a result the body’s internal clock is unable to cope with the change.
How does it occur?
Everyone has an internal body clock that sets the biorhythm of the body. It determines the time for sleep, wakefulness and hunger in a 24-hour period. Travel across many time zones increases or decreases the length of the day. The normal biorhythm of the body cannot adjust quickly to this change of a shorter or longer day, resulting in jet lag.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of jet lag include tiredness or fatigue, day-time drowsiness or difficulty in sleep at night, decrease in mental ability, physical energy and memory, irritability, headache, gastrointestinal discomfort with diarrhoea or constipation and minor coordination problems.
How long do the effects of jet lag last?
The jet lag varies with the change in length of day. Eastward travel shortens the day and is more difficult than westward travel, which lengthens it. Generally eastward travel needs a day of recovery for each time zone crossed and westward journeys need a day for each one and a half time zones crossed.
What can be done to help prevent jet lag?
Break a long journey with a halt.
Drink lots of fluids during the flight. But, avoid coffee, alcohol or fizzy drinks..
Eat high-protein, low-calorie meals.
When flying eastwards, go to bed earlier than usual for a few days before the trip; if flying westwards, go to bed later than usual.
Schedule to arrive at the destination at the usual bed-time and go to sleep, or sleep on the plane and plan to arrive at the usual waking time.
Set the watch according to the destination time halfway through the flight, and start thinking in terms of the new time.
Spend more time outdoors at the destination as exposure to bright outdoor light helps in faster adjustment.
Avoid problems due to jet lag interfering with an important event or planned meeting by reaching the destination a couple of days earlier.
How to adjust the dosing of medicines?
Adjust medication schedules according to the actual hours between doses rather than the local time. Diabetics on long-acting insulin should change to regular insulin, till they adjust to the destination time, food, and activity.