JET LAG

Road Today - - Guest Column: Health -

Now that we are in the mid­dle of win­ter, and the hot days of sum­mer are just a dis­tant mem­ory, many of us will travel south in search of sun and sand.

In most cases, these sunny des­ti­na­tions are far away and thus a plane ride is of­ten re­quired. When cross­ing mul­ti­ple time zones quickly, we can some­times suf­fer from jet lag dis­or­der. Most com­monly re­ferred to as sim­ply jet lag, this con­di­tion is de­fined as a tem­po­rary prob­lem or dis­rup­tion in sleep pat­terns.

As I am sure you are aware of, our bod­ies have its own in­ter­nal clock which tells us when to sleep and when to stay awake. Jet lag gen­er­ally oc­curs when you cross more than two time zones quickly. Es­sen­tially what hap­pens is our body’s in­ter­nal clock is still set at the orig­i­nal time zone and will take some to sync with the new one. It is im­por­tant to note that not ev­ery trav­eler will ex­pe­ri­ence jet lag, how­ever, it is more likely to oc­cur the more time zones that you cross. The sever­ity and length of symp­toms of jet lag greatly vary from per­son to per­son. Some in­di­vid­u­als ex­pe­ri­ence one symp­tom and oth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence sev­eral. Symp­toms may in­clude: 4Fa­tigue (es­pe­cially dur­ing the day­time) 4Gas­troin­testi­nal/ di­ges­tion prob­lems 4Dis­tur­bance in sleep pat­tern 4Mood and con­cen­tra­tion changes

The good news is that the symp­toms of jet lag usu­ally sub­side on their own within a few days of be­ing in the new time zone. How­ever, if you are a fre­quent trav­eler that suf­fers from jet lag, you may have to see a sleep spe­cial­ist.

There are a few simple steps that you can take to help min­i­mize the ef­fects of jet lag.

First of all, due to the fact that our in­ter­nal clock is heav­ily in­flu­enced by day­light, reg­u­lat­ing the amount of day­light that you are ex­posed to in the new time zone may help your in­ter­nal clock ad­just grad­u­ally. In ad­di­tion, light ther­apy which in­volves ex­pos­ing your eyes to ar­ti­fi­cial sun­light for spe­cific amounts of time may be ben­e­fi­cial.

Re­search has shown that de­hy­dra­tion in­creases the risk of jet lag. It is im­por­tant to stay hy­drated while trav­el­ing on planes as the air on board tends to be very dry.

Although it is gen­er­ally not rec­om­mended, some in­di­vid­u­als will drink bev­er­ages which con­tain caf­feine such as cof­fee or tea to help off­set the day­time tired­ness. On the other hand, it is rec­om­mended to avoid caf­feine in the evening time.

Another com­mon rem­edy for jet leg is mela­tonin sup­ple­men­ta­tion. Mela­tonin is a chem­i­cal in our brains that sig­nals it is time to sleep. By tak­ing mela­tonin at spe­cific times, you may be able to re­set your in­ter­nal clock. It is wise to talk to a health care pro­fes­sional be­fore sup­ple­ment­ing with mela­tonin.

Fi­nally, some in­di­vid­u­als start to mod­ify their sleep sched­ules be­fore they go on a trip. For ex­am­ple, if you will be trav­el­ling to a des­ti­na­tion that is three hours ahead of your home time zone, try grad­u­ally stay­ing up later the week be­fore you leave.

As you can see, jet lag is more of an in­con­ve­nience than a se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tion. I per­son­ally feel that it is a small price to pay for the sun, sand and beaches of va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions.

Un­til next month, drive safely.

Dr Christo­pher H. Singh Chi­ro­prac­tor, runs Trans Canada Chi­ro­prac­tic at 230 Truck Stop in Wood­stock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024 E.mail: chris_s­ingh@sym­pa­tico.ca

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