If you travel across time zones, you’re all too familiar with jetlag. You feel drowsy, your stomach’s upset, your body aches and is sluggish and uncomfortable. Worst of all, it hits when you need to be at your best. You may be a business traveler on an important trip, or on a vacation with just a few days to catch the sights. You can’t afford to feel this lousy! This article will help you understand jetlag and your options for preventing or minimizing its effects—just one of the useful recipes for life you’ll find here at o5.com.
Prepare yourself for jetlag
The farther you travel, the worse your jetlag will be. Symptoms will hit within 24 to 36 hours, and will last for about a day for each time zone you crossed. The effects definitely wear off, but frequent travelers will benefit from ‘preparing for battle.’ You can approach a speech specialist who can give you medication, or explore natural treatments.
What causes jetlag?
When you cross several time zones, your body’s internal clock (also called circadian rhythms). So your body may think it’s 1 a.m, and is ready to sleep, but all around you, it’s morning: the sun is out, people are working, and everything in the day—meal times, sleep times—are out of synch.
Sunlight is a big factor, because your brain (specifically the pineal gland) that regulates circadian rhythms is guided by light, which is transmitted by cells in your eyes. So the body senses light, or lack thereof, and the brain responds by producing sleep hormones.
Cabin pressure can also exacerbate jet lag, because of possible effect of altitude on muscle pains and general exhaustion. After all, Mother Nature did not exactly build our bodies to hover 8,000 feet above hair. The dry in the cabins also have dehydrating effects, which can cause eye fatigue, headaches, and nasal problems.
Interestingly, jet lag is worse when you fly east, when you ‘lose time.’ And the older you are, the worse jetlag symptoms tend to be.
Doctors can prescribe medications to frequent travelers. These include Nonbenzodiazepines, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and zaleplon (Sonata). Benzodiazepines, such as triazolam (Halcion) , are also used.
These medications induce sleepiness, so you can ease your body to follow the schedules of the country of your destination. However, like all medications, these may have side effects, including nausea and even amnesia or confusion. And you may continue to feel sleepy the rest of the day. If you are concerned about the side effects, you may want to think of natural ways of dealing with jetlag.
Photo from brainfrontiers.com