Jet lag, desynchronosis
or circadian dischronism, is one of the most common problems of modern
jet travel, a study by Upjohn shows 94% of long distance travelers crossing
the Earth's meridians are affected. This causes the travelers internal
clock to be out of sync with the external enironment. Long journeys within
the same or adjadent time zones, e.g. Hensinki to Cape Town, do not cause
desynchronosis, only the problems associated with aircraft flying.
Some of the most
common symptoms of Jet Lag are:
A report from the
World Health Organization also shows that jet lag makes travelers more
susceptible to colds, flu, and stomach upsets. Jet Lag occasionaly lasts
for a week or more but in most cases travelers return to their normal sleep
patterns after a day or two.
Discomfort of legs
What Causes Jet Lag?
cause of jet lag is rapid transit across world time zones. The more time
zones we cross, the greater the disruption of our body clock (a small cluster
of brain cell which governs our temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure,
and physiological patterns - circadian rhythms), resulting in disorientation
and mental and physical fatigue.
for long periods of time in flight causes discomfort and possible swelling
of the legs and feet (see "Deep Vein Thrombosis").
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 significant
causes of jet lag. Lack of fresh air, aircraft noise and cramped cabins
also have a role in the process.
What Can Be Done?
for a long trip often means you're tired before you begin. If at all possible,
get enough rest in the days prior to your trip, so you can start out strong
and full of energy.
It's best if
you can sleep on the plane. Kick your shoes off. Earplugs, eyeshades, and
a comfortable neck pillow are well worth the effort of packing if they
prevent you from losing a day to jet lag. Try to take care of as many travel
details as possible before you leave so that flight day is stress and anxiety-free,
and wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Set your watch to the destination
time as soon as you board the plane.
have depended successfully on Jet Lag pills to help them feel fresh on
arrival (eg Melatonin). While a drink or two may relax you, alcohol can
dehydrate you, making your symptoms worse. Avoid sleeping pills and mind-altering
pharmaceuticals on the day you fly. In the event of an emergency, you will
need all your faculties in order to survive.
The dry air
in aircraft causes dehydration. Plan on drinking 1/4 to 1/2 litre of water
during each hour of travel. Resist caffeinated and sugared drinks, which
can actually make you more dehydrated. Have a nice, long hot bath when
you arrive to rehydrate and relax.
The long periods
of sitting on an airplane, bus, or train are hard on your body. Walking
and stretching exercises in flight will help your body adjust to the new
climate. To help reset your body clock, try to stay awake until bedtime
rather than taking a nap upon arrival - spending time outdoors seems to
help most travelers.
stopovers a shower not only freshens you up but also gets the muscles and
circulation get going again and make you feel much better for the rest
of the flight
As you travel,
experiment to find the system that works best for you. Some travelers forswear
all naps, others insist on them. Keeping note of your experiences will
help you get the most from future trips. Consult with fellow travelers,
too. Their experiences can help you avoid days lost to jet lag discomfort
East and West
The issue is
under debate, but there is some evidence that traveling westwards causes
less jet lag than traveling eastwards. Remember this for round the world