Jet lag is the sleep disorder caused by traveling between different time zone. It is mostly experienced by international travelers who fly multiple time zones in one flight. It is more noticeable when flying from west to east as related to flying from east to west. Flying during the night time causes more jet lag drawbacks than the day time flying.
The natural regulator of our sleep-wake cycle is disrupted when flying very long distances because sunlight exposure gets disordered as the time zones change.
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Since jet lag is a temporary disorientation of sleep, it can be easily resolved by lifestyle changes and using some home remedies before and after such long time zone travels.
The main reason for sleep disorder occurs due to disrupted timings of release of a brain chemical called Melatonin. Brain releases this chemical as night approaches, making us snoozing to aid sleep.
The timings of light and darkness changes as we move past many time zones effecting sleep cycle. Since flying from West to East decreases the daytime and night approaches faster due to time zone differences, the set timing of Melatonin release gets disturbed. This results in jet lag.
Symptoms of Jet Lag
Main symptoms of the jet lag include:
- Lack of concentration
Symptoms may still persist for many days after the journey is completed. You may also experience discomfort in the legs and feel dehydrated.
6 Home Remedies for Jet Lag
There is no sure way to completely prevent jet lag. However, there are many different ways which can help ease some of the symptoms of jet lag. One or more of the following methods should work for you:
- Understand it first
Understanding the causes of jet lag makes it easy to prevent it and treat. Disruption of timing of Melatonin release is not the only cause, there are many other reasons for jet lag but the most prominent one is the time zone difference between the two airports. It is estimated that every one hour of the time zone difference will cause 1 day of sleep disruption before you get back to normal routine. In other words if you are taking a long haul flight of say 9 hours, it may take 9 days for your sleep to return back to normal cycle.
Additionally, dryness in the aircraft which impacts sinus membranes, cabin pressure at high altitude causes tiredness and lethargy, the stale air in the aircraft may cause nausea and the pre-journey pressures and anxieties can all contribute to the complications of jet lag.
- Adjust sleeping time in advance
Prepare yourself in advance for the new time zone sleeping order. If your flight time zone difference is 1-3 hours then couple of days before the journey, you can shift your sleeping time according to the new time zone. Start to sleep early or late depending on whether you are traveling eastward or westward.
- Be relaxed before flight
You should remain calm and completely relaxed before the flight. Avoid any last minute rush. Endeavour to complete your preparations for the travel many days in advance. Feel excited and look forward to enjoy the flight.
- Drink lots of water during flight
Keep yourself fully hydrated during the course of the flight by drinking lots of water. This will have a very positive result on your sinuses region. Avoid intake of alcohol, caffeine, or aerated drinks because they increase dryness and dehydration. Apply moisturizing creams to avoid skin dehydration. This way you can reduce if not thwart jet lag totally.
- Don’t remain seated through flight
Try moving up and down the aisle instead of remaining seated throughout the whole flight. Move up and down the aisle. Go to toilet. Stretch and twist your body. All these little activities will reduce the impact of jet lag. Don’t take sleeping pills. They will increase the complications of jet lag.
- Take Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin supplements have been found to quickly help the body adjust to the new surroundings thereby curing jet leg. These should be done under doctor’s supervision to avoid side effects which may include excessive dreams and nightmares. Some people take synthetic Melatonin a couple of hours before sleeping time of the new time zone and feel relieved of jet lag.
It works in some cases but its effectiveness is highly debatable. In some cases Melatonin has been found to increase the jet lag symptoms. It is still not very well understood as to how much melatonin should be taken and exactly for how many days and at what time. It doesn’t provide relief in all cases. It has been found to benefit if it is taken along with regulating exposure timings with sunlight.