How to Avoid Getting Caught in Time Zone Changes
who has ever flown is likely to have experienced some
degree of time zone change disorder, commonly known as
jet lag. Until recently, jet lag was not treated as a
medical condition. It is now included as one of the 84
known or suspected sleep disorders and affects millions
of people each year, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
lag occurs when the body's biological clock is out of
sync with local time. When traveling to a new time zone,
our bodies are slow to adjust and remain on their original
biological schedule for several days. The result is that
we feel excessively sleepy during the day or wide awake
People may experience jet lag in varying degrees. In general,
the severity of jet lag symptoms is directly related to
the number of time zones crossed by a flight. Jet lag
symptoms typically last longer following eastward flights.
Flying east usually results in difficulty initiating sleep,
where as flying west results in early morning awakenings.
All age groups are susceptible, but individuals over the
age of 50 are more likely to develop jet lag than those
under the age of 30. Also, individual susceptibility tends
to vary considerably and it is possible that pre-existing
sleep deprivation will intensify jet lag.
Symptoms of jet lag include:
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Nighttime alertness (insomnia)
- Mood disturbances
- Mood disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
believe that gradually adjusting your bedtime to coincide
with the time zone of your destination in the days before
travel may prevent or reduce jet lag. On average, it takes
about a day for each hour of time zone change to recover
from jet lag.
In addition to adjusting your sleep schedule, prescription
sleep aids may help reduce the amount of sleep lost as a
result of jet lag. Over the counter sleep aids and alcohol
should be avoided. Non-prescription sleep aids can cause
sleepiness long after the intended sleep time and exacerbate
jet lag. Alcohol can disrupt sleep. Daytime sleepiness can
be treated with caffeine, as long as it is not taken in
the few hours before bedtime.