What is Jet Lag? How is it prevented?
Normally, the biological clock of the body is in harmony with the local time. Harmonization of the body with the new order becomes possible with rewinding of the biological clock. Biological clock is arranged thanks to the melatonin hormone released by the lentil-sized gland called epiphysis in our brain, our body can distinguish night-day difference in this way. At night, melatonin levels increase and in the morning they decrease with the light. This situation affects many body functions such as nutrition, appetite, intestinal functions, blood pressure or body temperature.
What are the symptoms of Jet Lag?
- Sleep disorders particularly insomnia and fatigue are the main problems.
- Anxiety, intestinal disorders like constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, confusion, loss of concentration, weakness, headache, memory loss, blood temperature irregularities, menstrual irregularity, nausea, dizziness and decrease in body resistance are the additional symptoms.
Who are the sufferers of Jet Lag?
- Almost everybody is affected by this situation more or less.
- People with regular sleep routine and whose general medical condition is poor because of chronic diseases are affected more.
- Children are affected less because they can sleep at different hours during the day.
- The effect of Jet lag increases or decreases depending on the number of time zone traveled and the direction (east-west). Jet lag symptoms tend to be more severe when the person travels from westward compared to eastward.
- Complaints occurring as a result of the long flight affect the duration and severity of jet-lag; not sleeping enough, exposure to low oxygen pressure, seating for long hours, irregular eating, low humidity rate in the cabin, alcohol and caffeine intake etc.
What can we do to cope with Jet Lag?
- The most important rule to cope with jet lag and adapt to the new time zone is to live in accordance with the new time zone.You need to adjust yourself to the new time zone order in your destination. You need to sleep, wake up, eat and work in accordance with the new order.
- Planning changes to be made in accordance with the destination will be effective. You can begin adjusting your internal clock in advance; if you will travel to west, you should go to bed a few hours late and if the travel direction is towards east, it is advised to sleep a few hours early.
- If you are taking insulin or blood pressurepills, you should consult your doctor about this issue.
- You should avoid alcohol intake the day before, during or a day later the travel. Alcohol can cause dehydration in the body, sleep disorders and nausea.
- You should also avoid caffeine intake; caffeine can cause the same problems like alcohol and increase anxiety (problems like aerophobia) about the flight.
- It is very important to drink plenty of water in order to overcome low humidity rate in the plane and all problems related to thirst.
- For long flights, using blackout curtainsin the plane in accordance with the destination helps the adaptation of the body to the new time zone.
- Wearing comfortable clothes during the flight and moving legs hourly eliminate the risks that can occur depending on physical inactivity such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism and help you to cope with jet-lag.
- Some use melatonin with an aim to make the metabolism ready for sleeping. Melatonin is not a sleeping pill. Passengers using melatonin express that they feel better and overcome jet-lag within a shorter time; but there are not sufficient number of studies carried out on this issue. Melatonin should be carefully used in patients with epilepsy or who take anticoagulant pills. In short, you shouldn’t use melatonin without consulting your physician.
- Some passengers benefit from sleeping pills but they are not recommended as they can cause addiction if used more than a day.