internal body clock is regulated by circadian rhythms that respond to daily light/dark
cycles. When we travel over time zones, these abrupt changes confuse your body
clock and cause what is referred to as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag include fatigue,
sleep problems, irritability, queasiness, upset stomach, headache, and grogginess
or difficulty concentrating. Jet lag symptoms appear to be more severe when flying
east or crossing three or more time zones.
prevent jet lag, follow these tips:
out well rested.
plenty of water.
Dehydration worsens the symptoms of jet lag; so try to drink
at least eight ounces of non-caffeinated fluids before, during, and after your
flight. Go easy on the alcohol and caffeine; besides dehydrating you, they will
also disturb your sleep pattern.
your clock to your destination.
As soon as you arrive at the airport, adjust
your eating and sleeping to the new zone (or as close as possible). Eat breakfast
even when it feels like dinner and force yourself to stay awake when all you want
to do is sleep.
on the "red eye.
If you're flying through the night, try to get
some sleep even if you're not yet tired. Use earplugs, an eye mask, and an inflatable
neck pillow. Dress in comfortable clothing and request a window seat so no one
will step over you. To promote sleepiness, choose an evening meal high in carbohydrates
such as fruits, sugars, and starchy foods such as bread, pasta, and rice.
up if it's daytime at your destination.
If it's daytime at your destination,
force yourself to stay awake by reading a book, playing a game, or talking to
your neighbors. Eat a high protein/low carbohydrate meal like meat, vegetables,
and only small amounts of carbohydrates like bread, rice, and noodles. Caffeine
(coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas) may also help to keep you awake. But don't
overdo the caffeine if you need to fall asleep soon.
you're tired, take a short nap.
If you arrive in the morning (which is your
middle of the night), take a shower and change into your business clothes. If
it's difficult to stay awake, take an afternoon nap of no more than three hours.
You'll feel refreshed but still ready to go to bed at your new bedtime.
a walk during the day.
Spend half an hour or so outside in the daylight walking
around as soon as you arrive (or the next morning if you're arriving at night).
For east to west travelers, take a walk in the late afternoon. Both the sunlight
and the exercise will help to reset your circadian rhythms.
If your schedule permits, save the important activities for when
you have the most energy in the morning after flying west and in the evening
after flying east.
to your doctor about medications.
Some travelers take sleeping pills during
the flight to induce sleep. Unfortunately, medications can cause disorientation
the next morning.
Be cautious of "natural" remedies. Dietary supplements,
including so-called "natural remedies" for jet lag, are not regulated
by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, their claims do not
have to be backed by research to prove effectiveness or long-term safety. While
there are anecdotal reports of effectiveness, no studies have yet demonstrated
that they relieve jet lag in a measurable way. Light resets the body's rhythms
or biological clock in a more powerful way and light offers no side effects
or long-term safety issues.
Jo helps busy people stay healthy, sane, and productive through her books, articles,
media appearances, and speaking engagements. She has presented more than 1000
programs to companies and conventions. Dr. Jo has written four books including:
Dining Lean, How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road, and Dr Jo's No Big Deal
Diet. Her Web site is www.drjo.com.