Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments: Jet Lag
Jet lag happens when a mismatch happens between a person’s normal circadian rhythm and the routine changes that occur at a new destination because of traveling across several time zones. It may make a person feel tired when they should be awake or make them not able to sleep when it is night. It always seems to be worse when you travel eastward than when you travel westward.
Jet Lag Causes
Symptoms of jet lag don’t occur when you travel from north to south or south to north. It only happens when you change time zones and affects your daily routine. Usually you need to travel through more than two zones to have significant effects on your body.
Our internal clock is located in the lower part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This organ gets signals from eyes that tell it whether it is dark or light. Hormones are released based on that information that will make you sleepy or alert. Melatonin gets released when it is dark. An increase in melatonin will cause you to be sleepier. If you turn on the lights you can quickly stop the release of melatonin.
Traveling through time zones will cause everything in the world to happen with the wrong timing. Eventually your body will adjust to these changes but it may take a few days. This time of adjustment is called jet lag.
Complications and symptoms of Jet Lag
The major symptom that occurs during jet lag is that everything feels like it is taking place at inopportune times. Bedtime and mealtime is either too late or too early depending on which way you traveled. Your body begins to adjust quickly upon arrival but it does take time depending on how many time zones you traveled through.
Many common symptoms that occur during jet lag are as follows:
• Diarrhea and constipation
• Upset stomach
• Frequent waking during sleep
• Impaired judgement
• Difficulty concentrating
• Daytime sleepiness
Jet lag is actually a nuisance but it can have complications. Woman may see a disruption in their monthly menstrual cycle if they fly often. Peptic ulcer symptoms may also worsen due to jet lag. The stomach secretes acid when the body thinks it is time to eat and if no food is taken in, the acid can become corrosive. Diabetics should also seek guidance from their physician about how the time change will affect their insulin schedule.
Prevention of Jet Lag
Try to get your body to adjust to what your new hours are going to be at your destination before you even leave. Try to wake and sleep at the times you will be doing that at your destination. Do this slowly a couple of days before you leave. This will help your body to adjust quicker to the new time zones.
Some other suggestions that may help reduce the effects of jet lag are as follows:
• Eat frequent small meals and eat lightly with foods such as vegetables and fruit
• Drink lots of water
• Try to get ample sleep before you travel
• Try not to drink caffeinated or alcoholic drinks
• Take a nap if you feel tired
• Wear comfortable, loose clothing
• Get exercise on the plane during flight where possible