Jet Lag Disorder: What You Need To Know

Jet Lag Disorder: What You Need To Know?

Are you tired of feeling sluggish after travelling across time zones? If you experience jet lag frequently, you might be suffering from circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD).

A disruption in our internal clock causes jet lag. When we travel eastward or westward, our body adjusts its internal clock to match the new time zone. This adjustment takes place over several days.

You can prevent jet lag by sleeping simultaneously every day as your travel destination has. The key is to get into a regular sleep pattern before leaving home.

In this blog post, we will discuss more about the causes of Jet Lag disorder and how it affects us. We will also provide some tips on how to overcome jet lag.

Jet lag disorder definition

Jet lag sometimes referred to as Jet lag Disorder, may be described as a short-term sleep disorder that affects anyone who frequently travels across time zones .

Your body has an internal clock (circadian rhythms) that tells your body to remain awake and when it's time to sleep. 

Jet lag is caused by the fact that the body's clock remains linked to your home time zone and not according to the new place where you've been. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you'll suffer from jet delay.

 

Symptoms of Jet Lag

The most frequent signs of jet lag are:

  • Sleeping issues: It may be challenging to sleep when you want to or awake earlier than you scheduled. Jet lag can result in sleep being sporadic.
  • Sleepiness during the day: Jet lag frequently results in feeling drowsy or exhausted throughout the daytime.
  • Impairment in cognitive thinking: There is a possibility that you will experience issues with your attention or memory or feel that your thinking has slowed.
  • Affected physical function: Your body may be fatigued, and your body's performance may be affected. It is particularly true for travel athletes.
  • Troubles with emotions: Some people with jet delay experience irritability. There is evidence that jet lag could cause mental health issues to worsen, for example, mood disorders.
  • Malaise general: The effects of jet lag can cause you to experience an overall feeling of malaise that is an overall feeling of illness, discomfort, or unease
  • Stomach issues: Jet lag can cause digestive problems such as decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.

These symptoms can be experienced after lengthy flights across time zones. 

The disruption in your circadian rhythm alters the frequency and timing at which your body's hormones are produced, which affect sleep and other bodily functions .

People who suffer from jet lag may experience some or all of the symptoms mentioned above. The symptoms can be noticed immediately or appear just a few days after arriving. 

Many people rest well the first night following the flight, only to have difficulties sleeping in the following days.

The duration of jet lag varies from a few days to several weeks. In general, symptoms last 1-1.5 days, depending on the time zone crossed. 

However, the duration of the symptoms differs depending on the individual and the specifics of their trip.

Symptoms of Jet Lag

Can Jet Lag Have Long-Term Consequences?

Jet lag is typically an intermittent issue that will disappear once the body's cycle has gone back to local time. 

For those who regularly take long-distance trips, such as flight attendants, pilots, and business travellers, jet lag could develop into a long-term issue. 

A continuous out-of-sync circadian rhythm could cause chronic sleep issues resulting in insomnia. A healthy internal clock is essential to the general health of the body .

Therefore, the disruption of the circadian rhythm can increase the risk of developing disorders like depression and diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.

Jet lag can lead to tiredness during the day, a sick feeling, difficulty staying alert, and digestive issues. Jet lag can be temporary, but it could significantly impact your business or vacation. 

There are actions you can take to reduce or prevent jet lag.

Causes of Jet Lag

Lanes that cross at least three time zones trigger jet lag. The symptoms can be more apparent when more time zones get traversed.

The majority of people notice a Jet lag as more severe when travelling east compared to when you travel towards the west. 

Jet lag varies according to the direction of travel since it's more common to put off your internal clock rather than advance it. 

Jet lag is not a problem on flights between north and south that do not cross time zones.

It is not the case that everyone who travels on an extended flight suffers from jet lag. Many factors influence the likelihood and degree of jet lag.

  • Information about the trip: The total distance, the number of layovers, times zones crossed, the direction of travel and local daylight hours, length of time to the destination, and many other particulars of a journey can impact jet lag.
  • Time of arrival: When you arrive at your destination could influence the rhythm of your circadian. For travel to the east, There is evidence suggesting that the jet lag can be lessened after afternoon arrivals compared with those who arrive in the early morning.
  • Age: The age of a person, can play a role in the development of jet lag, but studies have revealed mixed results. People over 60 suffer from circadian fluctuations that may cause it to be difficult for them to overcome jet lag; however, specific studies on pilots have shown jet time to be more severe in people younger than aged 16.
  • Sleep before travelling: Poor sleep in the days preceding the departure date can boost a person's likelihood of developing jet lag following a trip.
  • Stress Stress can leave your body and mind at a high level to the point that it can hinder sleep quality and make it more challenging to deal with jet lag.
  • Drinking alcohol or caffeine, many people drink coffee or alcohol on travel, and these substances impact our brains in ways that could interfere with sleep.
  • The history of jet lag: People who've been previously afflicted by jet lag are likely to experience it happen again.
  • Variation for individuals: Because of reasons not completely understood, some people are more likely to suffer from disruptions in circadian rhythms on long-distance travel than others .

Due to the many variables that can be involved, it's difficult to determine who is likely to be affected by jet lag, what severity it is, and how long the duration is. 

However, it is common for slight jet lag to happen if more than 3 time zones cross in travel.

How is Jet Lag Different From Travel Fatigue?

It's normal to feel worn out following an exhausting day of travel. Although it's possible to confuse this with jet lag, the reality is that it's caused by fatigue from the journey. 

It can be characterized by headaches and fatigue that could result from the physical strains of travelling.

Aeroplane cabins with low-pressure, cool, dry air could result in dehydration and susceptibility to respiratory issues.

Changes in air pressure can cause bloating and prolonged sitting can lead to leg swelling. 

It's not easy to lie straight on an aeroplane seat, particularly with frequent in-flight interruptions. Therefore, getting good rest during transit can be a challenge.

Each of these causes contributes to fatigue after a long flight. However, this is not different from jet fatigue.

Unlike jet lag, travel fatigue does not involve circadian rhythm disruption. 

Therefore, even though it is common for fatigue to disappear after a restful night's sleep, jet lag may persist for weeks or days until the person's internal clock is re-aligned.

It's possible to suffer jet lag and fatigue during a long flight. However, jet lag is more likely to trigger long-lasting and severe symptoms.

How Can You Prevent or Reduce Jet Lag?

Jet lag can have devastating consequences on your holiday, business trip, or sporting event. Therefore, people of all types try to reduce the negative impact of jet fatigue.

The first step to stopping and slowing down jet lag is adjusting your circadian rhythm to sync with your time with that of the destination. Once this is accomplished, you can take steps to control symptoms.

For short-term trips, you might be able to beat jet lag by scheduling your activities, such as sleep, to maintain your circadian rhythm at a constant pace with your home timing zone.

Doing this will avoid any disruption to your circadian rhythm throughout the trip and when you return to your home.

If your trip lasts longer than a few days, reducing jet lag requires you to adjust to the day-night cycle at the destination. 

The following sections will discuss ways to reorient your circadian rhythm and practical suggestions for reducing jet lag.

How Can You Prevent or Reduce Jet Lag

Light Exposure

Lighting has the most significant potent influence on the circadian rhythm, and a well-planned exposure to light can assist in setting your internal clock to prevent or decrease jet lag.

The influence on circadian rhythm is dependent on the intensity and timing of exposure to light. Sunlight provides the most significant amount of illumination and the most substantial circadian effects. 

Different kinds of artificial light also affect the circadian rhythm to a minor degree. Inconsistent light exposure won't solve jet lag as the timing is vital. Certain times of light exposure could delay or advance an internal timer.

The right timed intervals of light and darkness will allow you to align your circadian rhythm to the local time. 

When natural light is intricate Light therapy lamps, often referred to as lightboxes, provide high-quality light with a more significant influence on the circadian cycle.

Melatonin and Sleep Aids

Melatonin is a hormone your body produces, which aids in making you feel tired and regulates your circadian rhythm. 

Melatonin is usually paid at night, just at least a couple of hours before bed. However, this routine is thrown off due to jet time.

There are prescription drugs and nutritional supplements that increase the body's levels of Melatonin, and some studies suggest Melatonin may help reduce jet lag.

Other forms of sleep aids include prescription and over-the-counter medications and natural sleep aids, which can assist you in falling asleep or remaining asleep. 

However, they don't alter the rhythm of your body's circadian cycle. In some instances, they could even cover the ongoing symptoms of jet fatigue.

Sleep aids can cause side consequences, such as a greater danger of falling and accidents when they cause drowsiness. 

Before taking MelatoninMelatonin, or any other sleeping medication, you should consult with your doctor, best before you travel, and discuss the benefits and potential risks for the specific circumstances.

Pre-Adjusting Your Internal Clock

Specific methods to prevent jet lag involve altering your sleeping schedule during the days leading up to your travel date to ensure that there is minor discordance between your circadian rhythm and the local time when you reach your final destination.

Alongside changing your sleeping time, this method usually involves precisely timed the release of MelatoninMelatonin and light exposure to alter your circadian cycle.

Although this strategy could be helpful in certain situations, it might not be feasible based on your schedule and family, professional, and social commitments.

Creating a Plan for Overcoming Jet Lag

The most effective strategy for avoiding jet lag depends on several factors, such as how you fly, your direction of travel, amount of time zones that you have crossed and how long you'll be at your destination, and your schedule and commitments while on your journey.

If you consider these aspects, you can design your plan of action to lessen jet lag. Melatonin and light will help you re-align your circadian rhythm. 

However, when they are not adequately timed, they could cause rather than decrease jet lag.

A travel nurse, doctor, or sleep specialist could be able to assist you in creating a strategy for managing jet fatigue. 

Numerous online resources and applications will help you create custom schedules that can help you lessen jet lag based on the duration of your trip.

Practical Tips for Reducing Jet Lag

A variety of valuable suggestions for before, during, and following your flight will assist you in minimising sleep disruptions as well as fatigue from travel to help you get the most out of your vacation.

Practical Tips for Reducing Jet Lag

Before Traveling

  • Plan the first few days of your travels: Make sure to take your time sleeping and adhere to your plan of gentle exposure. Add buffers to your schedule in case you start feeling slow, and if you can, you should arrive a few days before the important meeting or event to have enough time to get used to it.
  • Reduce stress during travel: Don't wait until the final minute to pack your bags or get to the airport. Stress can increase anxiety and make your trips more challenging.
  • Quality sleep: Focus on getting good quality sleep for at least several nights before the trip to ensure you're not exhausted when you begin your journey.

During Flight

  • Keep hydrated: Drink water to replenish fluids and combat dehydration that may occur during flight.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol: Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption onboard or avoid the whole thing.
  • Make smart choices: Reduce the risk of stomach problems by eating light and healthy meals. Choose fruits and vegetables over heavy, calorie-rich, and fat-laden snacks.
  • Move up and stand: Blood clots and stiffness could occur if you sit all day. Moving, standing, or slowly stretching your muscles a few times during your flight can help decrease the chance of these happening.

After Arrival

  • Training: Find time for walking or some other physical exercise. Exercise outside to get scheduled daylight exposure can aid in resetting the circadian rhythm of your body.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals: Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption and food that is heavy and high in calories.
  • Take a nap with care: Avoid the temptation to have an extended nap. Make sure that your naps are shorter than 30 minutes, and only take naps for eight or more hours before the time you plan to sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do sides of the world influence jet lag?

Yes, it does. The side of the earth where you live can affect the jet lag you experience. For example, people living in the northern hemisphere (the opposite of the southern hemisphere) tend to feel less jet lag because they are exposed to more sunlight.

How long does jet lag last?

The length of jet lag depends on the distance travelled, the number of stops made, and the time of year. It's common for people travelling across multiple time zones to experience symptoms of jet lag for five to seven days after their arrival.

Conclusion

If you're flying somewhere, try to find out what time zone you'll be arriving in. This way, you can prepare accordingly. If you're going to be visiting multiple countries, you might want to consider taking a vacation from work to give yourself time to adjust.


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