Jet Lag

An Overview

Jet lag happens when your body’s natural clock, or circadian rhythm,is disrupted by traveling to different time zone. This temporary sleep condition affects your energy and state of alertness. Your body has its own internal clock (circadian rhythms) that signals your body when to stay awake and when to sleep. Jet lag occurs because your body’s clock is still synced to your original time zone, instead of to the time zone where you’ve traveled. The more time zones crossed, the more likely you are to experience jet lag.

The more time zones a person crosses in a short period, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be. Jet lag is related to a disruption in activity and a lack of synchronization in the brain cells of two parts of the brain.
The older a person is, the more severe their symptoms will normally be, and the longer it will take for their body clock to get back into sync. Your body is aligned on a 24-hour cycle or body clock.

Your body follows this internal clock to perform specific biological functions, like releasing hormones that help you sleep or increasing your body temperature to help you wake up at the start of your day.

Symptoms for Jet lag

Symptoms of jet lag can vary. You may experience only one symptom or you may have many. Jet lag symptoms may include:
• Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness
• Daytime fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level
• Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea
• A general feeling of not being well
• Mood changes
• sleep disturbances, insomnia, lethargy, and fatigue
• a heavy, aching head
• irritability, confusion and difficulty focusing
• mild depression
• loss of appetite

Causes of jet lag

Your body is naturally set to a 24-hour cycle that’s known as your circadian rhythm. Your body’s temperature, hormones, and other biological functions rise and fall according to this internal time gauge.

A disruption to your circadian rhythms
Jet lag can occur anytime you cross two or more time zones. Jet lag occurs because crossing multiple time zones puts your internal clock (circadian rhythms), which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, out of sync with the time in your new locale.

Sleep timing
You could help prepare your body to the new time zone by sleeping on the plane, but several factors make it difficult to sleep while traveling. These include temperature, noise, and comfort level.
On the other hand, you might sleep too much on the plane and also throw off your body clock.

Airline cabin pressure and atmosphere
Some research shows that changes in cabin pressure and high altitudes associated with air travel may contribute to some symptoms of jet lag, regardless of travel across time zones. humidity levels are low in planes. If you don’t drink enough water during your flight, you can get slightly dehydrated. Dehydration may also contribute to some symptoms of jet lag.

Sunlight
Too much sunlight in the plane’s cabin or getting too much screen time while traveling can also affect your body clock. This is because light helps control how much melatonin your body makes.

Travel fatigue
Medical studies show that travel fatigue also contributes to jet lag. Changes in cabin pressure and high altitudes during air travel may contribute to some symptoms of jet lag, regardless of travel across time zones.

The body clock and the brain
Jet lag appears to involve a disruption in two separate but linked groups of neurons in the brain. These neurons are part of a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is located below the hypothalamus at the base of the brain.

Alcohol and caffeine
The World Health Organization (WHO) points outTrusted Source that drinking alcohol or caffeine during or before the flight may worsen symptoms. For one thing, these can both add to dehydration.
The body clock and the brain
Jet lag appears to involve a disruption in two separate but linked groups of neurons in the brain. These neurons are part of a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is located below the hypothalamus at the base of the brain.

Treatment

There is currently no treatment for jet lag, but some lifestyle adjustments can help minimize the symptoms.
Physical fitness and health: People who keep physically fit, rest properly, and eat a well-balanced diet appear to have fewer and less severe symptoms than someone who is less fit.
Controlling underlying medical conditions: Existing medical conditions, such as lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes, can make symptoms worse. Ask your doctor for advice before making a long-haul trip.

Prevention

Arrive early. If you have an important meeting or other event that requires you to be in top form, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust.
Get plenty of rest before your trip. Starting out sleep-deprived makes jet lag worse.
Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination.
Regulate bright light exposure. Because light exposure is one of the prime influences on your body’s circadian rhythm, regulating light exposure may help you adjust to your new location.
In general, exposure to light in the evening helps you adjust to a later than usual time zone (traveling westward), while exposure to morning light can help you adapt to an earlier time zone faster (traveling eastward).
Using an eye mask and ear plugs and aim for strategic napping. Try to sleep when it is night-time at your destination and sleep for 20 minutes at a time at other times, to reduce sleepiness
• Drinking plenty of water during the flight, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, to minimize dehydration.

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