What is Jet Lag? Symptoms, Risk Factors & How to Get Over

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If you've ever planned a long distance trip or have heard the term Jet Lag, you may suspect that the term is always associated with a sleep anomaly and difficulty in adjusting to a certain time.

It could mean even more to your body, and if you don't know what it is, here we're going to give you some jet lag tips on what it really is and how to get rid of it.

girl sleeping on airport chairs

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is a sleep disorder that alters the rhythm of the internal clock or heart rate of the body when we go through multiple time uses very quickly.

The first thing to know about Jet lag is that it's an effect of air travel through a number of time zones in the circadian rhythm of our body. Circa is the Latin word for "about" and diem means "day." This rhythm has a clock of approximately 24 hours.

The body operates with many circadian rhythms, such as body temperature regulation, hormone function, airway function, and kidney function. When we’re in a place, our body becomes accustomed and engages all its rhythm to that internal clock.

When we travel through multiple time zones, the time zone changes but our body clock is still in the time of the region we left, that means that our body is not in sync with the area where we are. That's a very important factor to consider.

It doesn't matter if it's a trip with your family, business travel or any other reason. Planning and taking it into consideration is the best way to face it. Don’t let your trip be ruined by not taking the necessary precautions.

What are the Symptoms of Jet Lag?

jet lag symptoms

The symptoms of jet lag vary and change depending on the person. You may suffer many of the symptoms or just one.

This is a list of the most common symptoms of jet lag:

  • Alteration in sleep schedule, insomnia or being sleepy during the day
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Difficulty in concentrating or unwinding easily
  • Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea
  • A general feeling of discomfort
  • Mood swings

Symptoms usually occur for a long flight when 2 or more time zones were crossed. If you plan a trip in which you cross only one ‘time zone’ then you don’t have much to worry to adjust to the new time zone. However, it never hurts to take protections.

Risk Factors

Why traveling to the east is worse?

The symptoms of Jet Lag can also vary, depending on which direction you go. Flying to the eastern time zone is harder than flying to the western time zone. This is because traveling east shortens the days while traveling west lengthens them. It means your circadian rhythm needs to be more advanced which is not possible for every human being.

It is important to note that Jet Lag only happens when traveling east-west or west-east.

If your trip is from north-south or vice-versa you won’t have any problem because you wouldn’t be going through any time zone. It's possible that if it's a very long trip you may still have some problems to get to sleep, but it will only be due to the inconveniences of spending too much time traveling uncomfortable positions on the plane.

How many time zones did you go through?

time zone of different countries

One of the most important points to take into consideration is that the more you travel or the more time zones you pass through, the effects of the Jet Lag will be more intense. For example, if you leave New York at 4 P.M. and arrive in Paris at 7 A.M., your body will still think that it’s the 1 A.M. because you’re still synchronized with the New York schedule while in Paris it is auguring.

Traveling frequently

The symptoms and effects of Jet Lag are particularly more frequent for pilots, flight attendants and business people who are constantly crossing time zones. This is why the airlines take precautions to prepare pilots and crew members.

Effects on elderly people

The side effects of jet lag can be especially strong in older people. Because they have low bone density and low muscle mass in their bodies to deal with symptoms compared to someone young.

How to get over jet lag?

Some simple measures can help eliminate it or decrease its effects:

  1. Arrive early:If you have a meeting or an event that requires you to be in perfect shape,try to arrive a few days before so that your body has some time to adjust.
  2. Rest before traveling: If you start your trip with lack of sleep, it can only worsen jet lag.It’s best to rest the days before the trip..
  3. Adjust your schedule progressively before leaving:
    1. If you travel to the east,try going to bed an hour earlier,for a few days before your flight so that your body adjusts.
    2. If you travel west, lay down an hour later than usual.Try to accommodate your meals with the hours of the area to which you will be.
  4. Regulate your solar exposure: Sunlight is a big influence in the Jet Lag because it is one of the main things that affect your circadian rhythm. The sunset light exposure helps you adjust to a trip to the west and the sunlight of the dawn helps you adapt to a trip to the east.
    The only exception is if you go through more than eight time zones with respect to your original time zone. Since the body could confuse the exposure to light in the early morning with the evening. On the contrary, the light of twilight could be interpreted as the dawn.
    Therefore, if you went through more than eight time zones to the east, during the first days in your new location, wear sunglasses and avoid the bright morning light and then allow yourself to be exposed to as much sunlight as possible.
  5. Stay in your new time zone:: It takes several days before the traveler is fully adjusted to the new time zone. As soon as you arrive at your destination, set your clock to the new time zone.. Stay awake until it is night in that place, also try to synchronize your meals with the local time of your destination.
  6. Keep hydrated: Drink water before and after boarding the flight, this helps to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air. This dehydration increases jet lag,avoid alcohol and coffee, this can dehydrate and affect sleep..
  7. Manage sleep: If it’s a night at your destination, try to sleep on the plane. Headphones and eye masks can block sound and sunlight.Sleeping pills can also help you fall asleep..If your destination is during the day, do not give in to the urge to sleep.

How to Beat Jet Lag with Technology?

These Following apps/devices will help you beat jet lag:

  • Headspace:If flying makes you uneasy, download a meditation app like Headspace. It helps people stress less, focus more and even sleep better. It will teach you the life-changing skills of meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.
  • Neuroon:To improve your sleep, use Neuroon – the world’s first smart sleep mask. Neuroon measures EEG (Electroencephalogram or brainwaves) and uses this data for advanced sleep staging. You can control the device using Neuroon Open app to gather sleep data, show sleep score, and get personalized sleep tips.
  • GloToSleep Mask:Uses dimming light to help you fall asleep and gently brightening light to help you wake up naturally.
  • SeatGuru App: It helps travelers to choose the best seats and in-flight amenities. Lets You avoid seats at the back of a plane, which are bumpier.
  • Jet Lag Rooster: Enter your flight details and your sleep pattern. With a few clicks, the site will create a personalized jet lag plan and offer guidance to help you combat it. Jet Lag Rooster shifts your body clock to reduce or prevent jet lag. Get and follow your personal jet lag plan. It's free.

Now that you know that the Jet Lag is a condition that happens when you go through different time zones, knowing your risks and how to avoid them, you will be much more prepared to face it on your next trip.




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