How to Combat Jet LagOctober 16, 2014 by Sadie Harris
As a busy cabin crew member, jet lag is a very real concern that can happen at any time. Though the symptoms of general fatigue and disorientation may aptly apply in varying settings, the phrase “jet lag” is associated with the symptoms experienced by travelers who cross several time zones in a relatively short time by the means of a jet aircraft. Before we get into tips for combating jet lag, let’s first explore how it happens.
The medical term for jet lag is “Desynchronosis” and, occasionally, “Circadian Dysrhymia.” Jet lag may last several days, depending upon how far you have traveled from your time zone of departure, until your body has acclimated to the new time zone. The rule of thumb is a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed. The issue of jet lag is especially common for pilots, flight attendants and frequent travelers, hence regulations set forth to combat pilot fatigue caused by jet lag.
The circadian rhythm, or “body clock,” grows accustomed to specific cycles. These rhythms also regulate hunger, tiredness, hormone production and body temperature. For example, our bodies are attune with time as it experiences daylight and darkness. Thus, when your body experiences dawn or dusk many hours apart from what it considered to be usual, your biological clock may throw the body out of sync by triggering functions that conflict with the rest of your body. This mismatch is how jet lag occurs.
In addition, your brain may become disoriented as it attempts to balance the time zone changes to your regular internal schedule. When your body patterns becomes out of sync and cannot realign these rhythms with the environment, you experience Circadian Dysrhymia. Though troublesome, this is a temporary disorder, with fatigue and insomnia being most common symptoms. Other symptoms of jet lag may include a number of physical and emotional changes. Among them, anxiety, an impaired ability to concentrate, dehydration, headache, mood swings, nausea, sweating, dizziness and problems with coordination. More uncommon symptoms have been reported such as irregular heartbeat, weak immune response, and changes in bowel movements.
7 Tips for Combating Jet Lag
- The best tip for combating jet lag is to find a strategy that works best for you and reduces or eliminates symptoms.
- First and most important, address any health concerns with your physician to make certain they will not impact your ability to travel.
- Simulate time change by going to bed earlier or later.
- Arrive at your destination earlier than needed in order to give your body extra time to adjust and recover.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine, they both disrupt the sleep cycle adding to an already compromised rhythm.
- Avoid eating a diet of high carbohydrates and fat for these same reasons.
- A hot bath will help you wind down, make you sleepy, and ease sore or stiff muscles from the flight. Try adding Epsom salts infused with lavender essential oils for even more muscle relaxation.
If you have already developed a strategy against jet lag, feel free to share your knowledge with other members of the business aviation community in the comments below. Happy and healthy landings!
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