What is jet lag and what causes it?
Jet lag is observable after travelling on a plane. It appears most often when the passenger traverses several time zones, flies from East to West or the other way round. Travelling from West to East is more exhausting since it entails a shortening of the day.
In itself, jet lag is caused by disturbances in the body's homeostasis which take place during travel. It is a disturbance in physiological processes brought about by the change in the circadian rhythm. The functions that belong to them include, among others: sleep-wakefulness, motility of the digestive system, and basic metabolism. Most functions are connected with the rhythm of secreting sleep hormones - melatonin and cortisol.
Symptoms of jet lag
What does jet lag look like? First of all, it prevents the body from being at ease. The body cannot fall asleep, cannot concentrate, and sends signals of total exhaustion. Moreover, there comes a feeling of malaise, a lack of appetite, and digestive problems. Additionally, one has to deal with sleepiness, disorientation, or headache.
How to fight jet lag?
There are many things you can do to manage jet lag. Of course, they depend on the way the passenger is travelling. We have already mentioned the direction of the flight, but another important thing is the number of time zones one is traversing. Flights to Moscow and to Tokyo are two very different experiences in that regard.
But there are many ways to fight jet lag. On the one hand, we can do certain things before the flight itself. We can eat light meals, reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, and rest. The better a passenger rests before the flight, the easier it will be for them to engage in proper acclimatisation after the landing. In general, jet lag is unpleasant, but it passes on its own after several days.
Still, we can make it go away faster. It is not only an appropriate attitude but also suitable medication that will help. For example, taking a light sleeping drug and sleeping during the flight can be a good option. Another would be taking an appropriate dose of melatonin which will prevent jet lag:
- in the case of eastward flights: 2 days before the planned departure 1-6 mg of melatonin around 7 p.m., followed by the same dose one hour before sleep for the next 4 days;
- in the case of westward flights: 1-6 mg of melatonin an hour before sleep for 4 days after landing.
Some tips for before a flight
An incredibly important element of flying eastward or westward through time zones is a proper preparation beforehand. It is a good idea to take into consideration some tips in order to be able to easily cope with jet lag.
a. Sleep hygiene - tiring the organism out before a flight is not a good idea. It is good to sleep naturally and take care to be well-rested.
b. In the case of an eastward flight, going to bed a little earlier than normally may be helpful. For a flight in the opposite direction, it is good to go to bed a little bit later. However, it cannot be too big a difference.
c. Short trips do not require sudden changes in our habits - which means that you can sleep and eat at normal times. But if a passenger goes abroad for longer, they should adapt to the daily rhythm of their destination. Thanks to that, it will be easier to avoid disturbances in metabolism.
d. If possible, it is worthwhile to arrive at the destination a little earlier, so as to give the body a chance to acclimatise itself. It is quite important, which is why one should give themselves two or three days in a given place before a planned business meeting.
e. It is not necessary to change our habits and try to give up our normal lifestyle. But it will be helpful to slightly adjust it to the conditions we find at our destination. For example, you should still exercise regularly. But it is important not to do it before sleep.