Jet Lag

  • Is how we feel when our normal body rhythms (circadian rhythms) are out of synchrony with the environment
  • Worse when travelling long distances rapidly and travelling east
  • Symptoms commonly include: fatigue, impaired vision, headache, sleep disturbance, hunger at inappropriate times, gastrointestinal upsets, urinary disturbance and poor mental or physical performance
  • Re-adaption to normal function generally takes 1-2 hours per day and may hence take several weeks

To minimise jet-lag

  • Break flight into sections not exceeding 4 hours time zone change, ie stop over en route
  • Travel west, during the day and aim to arrive late afternoon/early evening
  • Pre-adapt by adjusting the retiring and rising time by 1 hour each day until the destination time is reached. Retire later for the westward travel and earlier for the eastward
  • Stay on home time for the whole journey. On arrival, immediately adopt local time for eating and sleeping
  • Arrive 7 days ahead of the day on which you need to be reasonably competent
  • Exercise, exposure to bright light, and a high protein diet may help minimise symptoms
  • Melatonin tablets are a popular but unproven therapy
  • Short term use of sleeping tablets can assist during flight or on arrival

On the plane

  • Wear loose clothing
  • Avoid dehydration – drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Eat small regular meals low in fat and carbohydrates
  • Avoid smoking
  • Walk every 1-2 hours if possible

Face-moisturising towels, brushing teeth and changing clothes can help ‘freshen up’.

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