Monday, June 29, 2009

Tips to Deal With Jet Lag

If you have flown and thought Jet Lag was catching up with you, take a look at these tips. May your next flight be relaxing.
1. Know the causes.
Jet lag occurs due to disruption of your body’s circadian rhythms when traveling rapidly two or more time zones from home. Jet lag has nothing to do with the duration of your flight, but rather the distance traveled from east to west. For example, the long flight from New York City to Santiago, Chile would not cause jet lag, but flying from New York to Seattle might.
Jet lag is more severe when traveling west to east, possibly because most people find it easier to stay up late and catch up with local time than to get up early and fall back.

2. Know the symptoms.
Some of us are lucky enough that we don’t experience jet lag, or experience much lesser effects than other people. If you are susceptible, though, here are some symptoms you can expect:
· Loss of appetite, nausea, digestive problems
· Headache, sinus irritation
· Fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, insomnia
· Disorientation, grogginess, irritability
· Mild depression
Recovery times of one day per time zone traveled eastward and one day per one and a half time zones traveled westward are common. Some people recover more quickly than others.

3. Talk to your doctor.
If you have diabetes, a heart condition, or another health condition that requires regular monitoring and/or medication, plan well in advance. Consult your doctor, and develop a strategy to handle the time change.

4. Alter your schedule before you fly.
For any trip longer than a few days, you’ll enjoy your trip more if you gradually alter your schedule several weeks in advance of travel. Move your daily activities forward or back an hour three to four weeks before flying. Add on another hour of time change each week, and before you know it, you’ll be much better acclimated to your destination time.

5. Make healthy choices.
Keep to your exercise routine, take walks during your flight, and drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol the day before and after your flight, because both can dehydrate you and further disrupt your sleep cycle. Avoid sleeping pills. Forcing your body to in this way sleep won’t help it adjust, and worse, sleeping pills can be addictive.

6. The last word on Melatonin.
While the jury is still out, some experts are recommending that the over-the-counter substance Melatonin reduces the effects of jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted into the blood stream when it’s time to sleep. The pills are in health food stores, but have not yet received official FDA approval. Melatonin may have undesirable side effects, and its effectiveness varies greatly among different individuals. Ask your doctor about Melatonin and jet lag.

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