For most of us jet lag is simply an inconvenience that goes hand-in-hand with long haul flights, and for holiday goers the prospect of getting over the symptoms of jet lag on an exotic beach is enough to overlook the difficulties faced. However, for frequent flyers, jet lag is a very real and debilitating issue.
While our bodies and minds are simply not designed to cope with dramatic changes in time zones, there are a number of steps that you can take to alleviate and treat the symptoms of jet lag.
What exactly is jet lag?
Jet lag is experienced by individuals of all ages as they travel from one time zone to another. This journey essentially affects your body’s internal clock – the circadian rhythm – causing a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle of physiological processes that are initiated primarily by sunlight and temperature.
When jet lag is experienced these rhythms need time to adjust, particularly when it comes to your sleep-wake cycle.
What are the symptoms of jet lag?
There are a variety of symptoms associated with jet lag, and these tend to vary from person to person. The most common symptom is a disturbed sleep pattern, a side effect that will adjust as time goes by. Jet lag can also affect your digestive state causing problems like indigestion, constipation and diarrhoea.
Other jet lag symptoms include:
- Diminished appetite
- Muscle tenderness
- Feeling unwell
- Decreased energy levels
- Irregular menstruation for women
In addition to affecting the body physically, it can also have implications for your state of mind. These symptoms can include increased levels of anxiety, irritation or confusion, diminished concentration and short-term memory issues.
Do jet lag symptoms worsen the further you travel?
Just how severe your jet lag is depends on how many time zones you have travelled across. Those making their way across one or two time zones should experience little or even no jet lag. In fact, the majority of travellers don’t suffer significant jet lag until they cross three time zones or more in a flight. It is possible to experience symptoms of jet lag for up to six days if you have travelled across more than nine time zones.
Jet lag symptoms have been found to be more severe in people travelling in easterly directions, rather than on westerly flights.
How can jet lag be prevented and treated?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward cure to jet lag. However, there are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the impact on your mind and body. Adapting your sleep routine three to four days before your flight is an excellent way to make recovering from jet lag even faster, simply adjust your bed time by an hour in accordance with the time zone of your destination.
Numerous strategies can be utilised during your flight to reduce symptoms upon arrival. Stay well hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol, sleep in short bursts and try to stay as active as possible with regular walks and stretching. Changing the time on your watch to the time at your destination will also help you adjust more quickly. Once you arrive try not to nap as soon as you get to your accommodation, instead opt for an outdoor excursion – exposure to natural light works wonders – and get started with your new routine sooner rather than later.
Here at Express Pharmacy, we stock effective jet lag treatment Circadin, a medication that contains melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is released in the body at night-time each day. It is an important part of every individual’s chemical make-up and helps to shape the sleep–wake cycle.
The melatonin contained within Circadin, helps to adapt you feeling of sleepiness to help you adapt your sleep pattern to the new time zone in which you find yourself. By helping you to achieve good quality natural sleep, your body and mind will more swiftly adapt to the new environment and allow you to feel refreshed and full of energy once more.
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