Jet lag occurs when our internal clock gets out of sync with the time zone we travel through. It means we experience jet lag even though we sleep at night and awake during the day.
Jetlag can happen anytime you travel across two or more time zones. You feel sluggish and sleepy when you cross many time zones and come across intense jet lag. Our body has a tendency.
On average, our body can adjust naturally to 1.5 changes per day. However, if you cross two or more time zones, the feeling of Jet lag arises.
It is nothing but a temporary sleep disorder. Every time you cross a time zone, your body takes up to a day to adjust to the new time zone. A 10-day trip between two-time zone destinations takes 6-9 days to recover from the jet lag.
What Are The Jet Lag Symptoms?
Here are some of the common symptoms of Jet lag:
- You find it difficult to sleep during bedtime
- Change in appetite
- Not able to wake up in the morning
- You feel more sleepy during the day
- Excessive urination during sleep
- Excessive fatigue
- Digestive issues
- Dizziness and nausea
- Reduced physical and cognitive performance
- Not able to remember or focus on things
- Mild Anxiety
The symptoms of jet lag also vary with the direction you travel. If you are travelling eastwards, you will need help sleeping at night. But if you are travelling westward, you will wake up very early.
Do you know that frequent disruption to your body clock hampers your immune system and poses several health issues?
What Are Some Probable Causes Of Jet Lag?
Here are some proven causes of Jet Lag:
Changes In Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm refers to our body's 24-hour behavioural, biochemical, and physiological cycle. These regulate our body temperature, sleeping, eating, and walking.
When we travel several time zones, this cycle goes out of sync. If you leave New York at 3 P.M. on a flight and reach Paris at 6 A.M., your internal clock will perceive it as midnight.
It takes a few days to adjust your schedule to these time zones. Your sleep habits, bowel habits, hunger, and other body functions get out of sync.
If you work in shifts, you can experience the same symptoms of Jet lag even without travelling. The prime reason is the interference of light with melatonin regulation. This hormone is responsible for cell synchronisation in our body.
Exposure to sunlight also affects the Circadian rhythm, leading to the development of Jet Lag.
In the back of the retina, the cell tissues transmit light signals to the hypothalamus (an area in our brain). It indicates the pineal glands release the melatonin at night, while these glands indicate significantly less melatonin during the day.
Pressure In Airline Cabin
High altitude and cabin pressure are also responsible for some jet lag symptoms. Dehydration is one of the symptoms of Jet lag attributed to low humidity levels in-plane, inducing you to drink less water.
What Factors Increase The Chances Of Jet Lag?
Three factors increase the chances of Jet Lag as follows:
If you are in your middle or older age, you will likely experience more jet lag than the younger ones.
Several Time Zones
Higher the number of zones you cross, the higher the chances that your body will go out of sync and you will experience high Jet Lag.
Business travellers, pilots, and flight attendants who frequently cross time zones are likely to experience higher Jet Lag.
How To Prevent Jet Lag?
Here are some possible ways of preventing jet lag:
1.Early And Rested Arrival
If you need to head for a meeting at the arrival destination, arriving a few days earlier is essential to overcome the symptoms of jet lag. Your body needs a few days to adjust to the new time zone and return to its energetic form.
2.Choose Comfortable Shoes And Clothing
Fashionable clothing may make you look chic, but your comfort matters most when you are on a long trip. Too tight and uncomfortable clothes may make you feel irritable. Choose the clothes keeping in mind the climate of your destination time zone. Make them simple, elegant, and yet comfortable.
3.Adjust Your Schedule Before Leaving.
If you need to travel towards the east, adjust your sleeping schedule by 1 hour earlier. Similarly, if you must travel towards the west, postpone your sleep by 1 hour each night a few days before departure. Also, try to eat the meals closer to the times you are anticipating eating at your destination.
During your journey on the plane, you may not feel thirsty due to humidity levels, but it may eventually lead to dehydration. Hence, it would help to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Avoid taking caffeine and alcohol that worsen your dehydration symptoms.
5.Break Your Trip
While travelling from New York to Mumbai, stopping in Paris or Dublin can help you avoid severe jet lag. The long flights stretching over 12-14 time zones are often more tedious. It is best to break up your trips with the halfway destination.
6.Sleeping On The Plane
Resting well on the plane also helps avoid any possible jet lag if it's daytime at your destination. You can take the help of eye masks, earplugs, and headphones to enjoy a sound sleep if it's daytime.
7.Restrict The Bright Light Exposure.
Light explores one of the significant factors that interfere with your internal clock and disrupt it. If you regulate this light exposure, it helps you quickly adjust to the new location. While travelling westwards, exposure to the light helps you adjust to the earlier time zone faster.
Similarly, restricting the light while travelling eastward helps you adapt to the new time zone. However, if you travel through more than eight time zones, your body may need to correct the early morning light for the evening light.
So, if you are travelling eight time zones eastwards, avoid bright light by wearing sunglasses in the morning and then allow the sunlight in the late afternoon to adjust your body.
8.Move Around The Plane.
You can try simple exercises like leg stretching or some breathing exercises from time to time while sitting in a plane. Bend your knees or put your legs back and forth. Or you may stand or sit after a couple of hours to change your continuous seating posture.
It will avoid any chance of blood clots in your leg as the prolonged periods of sitting slowly down the blood movements in the legs.
As the seat is partially pressed, the legs, again, long sitting hours pose the threat of blood clots. It may travel toward the lungs if the clot is small and lodges into the arteries. You may experience the pain and may even cough out the blood.
The large blood clots are responsible for the death of an individual.
The constant movements while travelling help revitalise your body and uplifts your mood by breaking the monotony of sitting for prolonged hours. You feel more alert mentally as well as physically.
How Is Jet Lag Diagnosed?
Generally, people suffering from jet lag experience minor symptoms and do not require medical attention.
Their body adjusts gradually, and the symptoms disappear within 5-7 days. But, if your body cannot adapt even after 15 days of travelling and you are still experiencing the symptoms, you should consult a healthcare professional soon.
You may undergo a sleep study to evaluate if you suffer from jet lag or a sleeping disorder.
How To Cure Jet Lag?
Although "prevention is the best medicine," if you experience jet lag, here are some common tips for curing Jet lag:
While sleeping on the plane helps your body adjust to the new time zone, everyone can't sleep on their flight. Over-the-counter sleeping medications may help you achieve your goals, but they have more side effects than benefits.
Ample Sun Exposure
Our body recognizes sunlight as an indicator of alertness and helps us awake. Moving out during the day under the sun helps our body get alert. Although artificial light has similar benefits, sunlight has more impact on our overall alertness.
Avoid New Foods
You should choose the foods that your body can digest easily to avoid excessive digestion pressure. It also helps in avoiding any digestive symptoms arising out of jet lag.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Drinking a lot of water helps your body combat the effects of jet lag. As coffee and caffeine make you dehydrated, avoid them on your flight and to your new destination.
Now that you know all about how to deal with jet lag, let’s take a look at a few frequently asked questions.
What Puts My Body Clock Out Of Sync?
There is an internal time-keeping system in everyone's body. Your body needs to adjust when changes occur in the light-dark circles of day and night. Any change in your routine as exercise, routing, or even mealtimes, can lead to jet lag.
Why Travelling From The West To The East Is Harder?
The body encounters more severe symptoms when you travel from east to west. It is because it has less time to recover. Travelling eastwards reduces one hour a day, and travelling westward does the vice-verse. Hence the person has less time to sleep when travelling west to east.
What Does Jet Lag Feel Like?
Different people react differently to jet lag. The farther you fly, the worse the jet lag you experience, as your body requires more adjustments. If you 'lost' several hours due to the time zone difference, your body will be awake and alert (as it will be daytime back home).
If you have gained several hours, you will feel lethargic and sleepy.
Jet lag is a common phenomenon people experience when crossing several time zones. As their internal clock goes out of sync, it becomes difficult to adapt as soon as they reach their destination.
Although it is not a severe medical concern, travellers may experience some intense symptoms of Jet lag. There is no prescribed treatment available for Jet lag. You can only take suitable measures to avoid its symptoms.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for more such blogs related to sleep health, then you have come to the right place. Check out Crafted Beds for blog posts that have been curated by experts to improve the quality of your sleep!