Hope every one is having fun in their second week back from the holiday! And i hope that you had an amazing one! Speaking of holidays, I am pretty sure many you travelled outside of Canada to warmer countries, countless hours away and had to experience jet lag when you first got there and when you came back. I will try in this post to give you some advice that will reduce or even prevent jet la on your next holiday trip!
But first, lets discuss what causes jet lag?
Jet lag is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis. Jet lag can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a jet plane. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body’s circadian rhythms – hence, it is classified as a circadian rhythm disorder. Jet lag symptoms tend to be more severe when the person travels from westward compared to eastward.
1. First and foremost, don’t take sleeping pills! Many people try to prevent jet lag by taking sleeping pills to sleep through the whole trip. This is a very dangerous approach because sleeping means that you would not move and allow your blood to circulate. This may result in clotting of blood in your legs, and these clots might travel elsewhere in the body such as the lungs and block a blood vessel causing Pulmonary Embolism. Depending on the size of the clot, this can be life threatening. Another problem with sleeping pills is that it contains antihistamines which cause the dehydration of the body, this effect is alerting especially that the air in the airplane is dry.
2. Adjust your biological clock before hand. I have had personal experience with this one and it does help! Several days before departure, shift your daily life activities so much that they will coincide with your target destination. This method might be harder to implement if your flight destination is more than 5 hours from your current time. The more the difference is the harder this method is to implement.
3. Try to fly overnight. It would be best to have dinner at your regular time and your body will be much more likely to sleep compared to flying in the afternoon or in the morning. Depending on the flight duration, you will arrive to your location in the morning or the afternoon. This will make it much easier to reset your clock and to operate with your normal schedule. When you arrive to your destination, make sure you go outside. The lighting outside will help your circadian rhythm to adjust to your current destination and help you avoid jet lag.
4. Use melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by your super chiasmatic nuclei (in the brain) which controls when your body goes to sleep and wakes up. The synthetic version of melatonin can be used, in restricted dosages, to ease the transition between time zones by taking it before bedtime. This drug is nonprescription and studies suggest that taking 3 milligrams of melatonin before bedtime for several days after the trip may alleviate jet lag.
5. Stay hydrated! As mentioned earlier, the plane’s atmosphere is really dry, the best thing that you can offer your body is water. Drink at least 8 ounces of water every hour you are in the air even if you don’t feel thirsty. Use moisturizing lotion if possible to keep your skin hydrated. Avoid alcoholic drinks on flight! The dry air and the change in altitude may increase the effects of alcohol. The cocktail may relax you, but it will also increase the rate of dehydration and will make the symptoms of jet lag much worse.
I hope that my advice will help you sleep better on your next holiday trip! Bon voyage!