Sleep disorder: jet lag – combating the side-effects
Jetting off to foreign lands has never been easier and more people are venturing out to explore the world or conduct business overseas. However, every silver lining has its cloud and frequent fliers will be only too aware of the misery that jet lag can bring.Vox Efx
A condition too often dismissed, jet lag can be a very debilitating condition, which can leave the person feeling awful for anything up to nine days. Fliers moving from west to east are usually the worst affected (those ‘losing’ hours) and the more time zones that are crossed, the worse the symptoms tend to be.
Jet lag is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors and is primarily due to our natural internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, being thrown out of balance. The symptoms can include overwhelming exhaustion, an inability to concentrate and insomnia. Measures such as sleeping on a single mattress, avoiding rich foods before bed and even counting sheep all tend to have little effect.
But if you suffer from jet lag, you will be relieved to hear that there are a number of ways to combat the effects.
Make Mine a Mineral Water
Jet lag is caused in part by a lack of movement and dehydration. Therefore, no matter how tempting it may seem to enjoy a glass or two of alcohol, particularly if you aren’t fond of flying, you would be far better off finding another way to relax or calm your nerves. Making sure you drink plenty of water whilst you are in the air, as well as before and after, will help minimise the effects of the air cabin pressure, a cause of dehydration. Caffeine is also a bad idea as it disrupts your natural cycle and can keep you awake longer than planned.
Moving around during the flight may seem like a bit of a hassle, especially if you have to squeeze past fellow passengers. However, stretching regularly not only helps to cut down the chances of a suffering a blood clot; it also helps to keep your circadian rhythm in check.
Acclimatise Before You Leave
Some travellers swear by getting ready a few days in advance and there are some indications that this can be a big help. Slowly moving both your bedtime and your meals closer to your new time helps your body gradually acclimatise to the switch. Changing the time as soon as you board the plane can also give you a psychological advantage and help you adapt more quickly.
When you are ready for bed in your new time zone, making sure you are thoroughly relaxed and in the right frame of mind for a good sleep is essential. Having a hot bath forces body temperature to drop and mimics the biological effects of falling asleep, so it’s a good trick to try, even if you normally prefer to shower. Making sure you are not too hot or too cold and having the room as dark as you can make it will also help the land of nod to arrive. It might also be worth considering earplugs or an eye mask, even if you don’t normally use them.
The Last Resort…
If all else fails and you are a frequent traveller, it is worth having a chat with your doctor. There are medications available to help treat jet lag and whilst you may prefer not to have to pop a pill, it could be better than continuing to struggle every time you get on a plane.
This is a guest post written by Zoe Williams who blogs on fashion, health and a number of other topics. She is currently writing on behalf of Archersleepcentre who specialise in helping you get a good night’s sleep.