In today’ globalised world, travelling across time zones on business or leisure is inevitable. Jetlag is something we’ve all experienced sometime or the other, and is the bane of timezone hopping frequent fliers. What is this spaced-out feeling? Why does it happen?
With long distance travel becoming a part of modern life, we forget that our bodies were not designed to travel long distances at such high speed. It does not allow the body enough time to adjust. And we are left feeling jetlagged. Our bodies are naturally programmed to do things in a 24-hour cycle — eating and sleeping and waking up, and these circadian rhythms as they are called, get thrown out of sync when we travel long distances at high speed. This leads to extreme fatigue and bowel problems, loss of appetite, memory and concentration issues or a general feeling of being unwell.Here are things you can do to prevent a jetlag or recover from it.
Four or five days before you have to travel, shift your sleep and wake-up schedule by one hour each day. Try also to reschedule your meal times. If flying east, advance it and if flying west delay it. This gradual shifting will prepare your body and help it re-adjust its biological clock to the new time zone, much better and faster.
It’s not always possible, but if you have the option, take an overnight flight so that you can sleep well on the flight (earplugs and eye mask help) and not feel sleep-deprived when you land. This is the best way to replicate your normal schedule and makes it easier to reset your body clock.If you have a very long flight, across several time zones, choose one that allows early evening arrival, so that you can sleep within a few hours of reaching. On boarding the plane, don’t forget to change your watch to the destination time zone.
Pressurized airplanes make you dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the journey helps. It doesn’t matter, if you don’t feel thirsty, drink a glass of water every two hours. It won’t stop jet lag, but it will make sure dehydration doesn’t add to your fatigue on arrival.
Before, as well as during the flight, avoid drinking tea or coffee. The caffeine in it stays in the system several hours after consumption. Both tea and coffee act as stimulants and keep you wake so you are not well-rested in the flight.You land at your destination, tired and groggy.
Travelling at high altitude affects blood circulation and can exaggerate the effects of alcohol.Drinking in flight can also dehydrate you and worsen the symptoms of jetlagwhen you land.
Unless you reach your destination in the middle of the night, stay active until bedtime. It will help you adjust to the new time zone. If it’s day time when you reach, spend some time outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine not only help you stay awake, but also help your body reset its biological clock in tune with the new place.
If you are severely jetlagged — can’t sleep for 3-4 consecutive nights after reaching — you could consider taking a sleeping pill if you have used it before. Be sure about the dosage. It is best to consult a doctor before taking any new medication.
In extreme cases a doctor may give you melatonin. Studies show that taking a small doze of this hormone before bedtime after arrival in a new time zone can ease the transition. Research suggests that the body uses melatonin to re-set its time clock.