When traveling across multiple time zones there are things that we can do before, during and after flying to help our bodies adjust, and lessen the effects of jet lag. Does this sound like you after a long flight, “Jet lagged brain, I burned breakfast, flooded the bathroom, and tried to use my driver’s license to pay for groceries?” Brain fog (difficulty concentrating or functioning) inhibits your ability to fully enjoy your vacation and to resume a productive routine afterwards. Jet lag may also include any of these symptoms: daytime fatigue, irritability, headaches, stomach discomfort such as constipation or diarrhea, and disruption of sleep, such as insomnia or waking too early.
What causes jet lag?
The globe is divided into 24 time zones. The clock changes one hour for every 15 degrees travelled east or west from the Greenwich Meridian, which is an imaginary line passing through Greenwich, London. Jet lag can occur after rapidly crossing time zones, which causes your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, to be out of sync with the light-dark cycle of your new location. The more time zones you cross, and the direction you travel can affect the severity of jag lag, and its duration. Flying east is typically harder to acclimate to as you “lose” time traveling.
Although everyone traveling by airplane across two or more time zones is susceptible, those over 60 years of age are the most likely to experience jet lag. As we age, the ability to sleep at off times generally decreases, making it more difficult to adjust to sudden changes. Jet lag is temporary and is reported to take about a day to recover for each time zone crossed.
Strategies for minimizing jet lag
During the Flight
Natural jet lag and travel aids
The supplement, melatonin has been found in studies to relieve jet lag as it promotes sleep during off-times. The Mayo Clinic states, “Your body treats melatonin as a darkness signal, and generally has the opposite effect of bright light. If you’re trying to reset your body clock to an earlier time, such as after flying east, you should take melatonin in the evening. If you’re trying to reset your body clock at a later time, such as after flying west, melatonin should be taken in the morning. Doses as small as 0.5 milligram seem just as effective as doses of 5 milligrams or higher, although higher doses have been shown by some studies to be more sleep promoting. If you use melatonin, take it 30 minutes before you plan to sleep or ask your doctor about the proper timing. Avoid alcohol when taking melatonin.” Allow up to ten hours for sleep after taking melatonin.
No-Jet-Lag is a homeopathic pill to prevent jet lag. Other natural products that may make air travel more comfortable are nasal hydration sprays, ear plugs that relieve air pressure discomfort during flight, and PSI bands, based on the principles of acupressure to prevent nausea and motion sickness. Discuss appropriate jet lag treatments with your doctor before traveling.
Safe and happy time travels.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
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