Understanding jet lag
Some people don’t get it, but most do. Most travellers of long-haul flights are probably intimately acquainted with the uncomfortable and much-dreaded condition of jet lag.
WHAT IS JET LAG?
Jet lag is a physiological condition caused by the disruption of the body’s natural rhythm during travel by air through several time zones. The body clock operates on a 24-hour cycle, with stimuli such as hunger, sunlight and sleep hormones to regulate it.
The abrupt change in time zones during air travel causes the body’s natural schedule to be disrupted., causing physical and mental discomfort until the body can align itself to the new time zone.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms vary depending on individuals, but a jet-lagged person may experience: Headache or nausea Indigestion
Irritability or anxiety
Loss of appetite
Disruption in sleep patterns (difficulty sleeping, early waking, insomnia)
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
The duration varies among people. The body needs at least a few days to regulate itself and acclimatise to a new time zone. A suggested guideline advises a recovery period of a day per time zone crossed.
HOW DO I PRE VENT/ RE COVER FROM IT?
Prior to flight:
Get enough rest before the flight.
Plan the flight to arrive in the evening to help the body adjust to the new time zone.
Drink plenty of water or fruit juice.
Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
Eat smaller meals with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Get plenty of rest.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Maximise exposure to daylight to adjust body clock.
Limit intake of alcohol and caffeine during the day.
Avoid napping during the day.
ANY ADDI TIONAL TIPS?
Most travellers tend to suffer from jet lag when they travel through three time zones or more. It may be worth considering a stopover during a long trip. While supplements such as melatonin or pharmaceuticals such as sleeping tablets might help with jet lag, it is best to consult with a doctor before taking them as they might interfere with other medications.
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