Jet Lag: What It Is and How to Prevent It
Jet lag is known to be the biggest buzz kill for travelers. Medically known as “desynchronosis”, jet lag occurs whenever you travel across several time zones. Since the body is used to your home location’s hours of wake and sleep, people who travel to a location that has a big time difference from where they’re from typically experience various symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns, difficulties in concentrating or functioning in general, disorientation, and more.
Severity of Symptoms
The severity of these symptoms will depend on how many time zones you cross. Naturally, the more time zones you skip, the worse it is for your body. So if, for example, you took a flight from Los Angeles to New York (which is 3 hours ahead) your jet lag would be relatively mild. On the other hand, if you travel from say, Nevada to Auckland, New Zealand (which is 21 hours ahead) the jet lag would likely be harder on you.
Your age could also be a factor in determining the severity of jet lag. It’s been found that jet lag is more difficult for people who are either extremely young or extremely old. This is because when you’re young, your body clock hasn’t fully developed yet, and when you’re old, your body clock has likely experienced a bit of deterioration.
Direction of Travel
The direction of travel is also believed to have an effect on the severity of jet lag on the person. Studies have indicated that traveling east (in other words, to a later time zone) is more difficult compared to traveling west. Naturally, traveling north to south will not cause jet lag, as long as you don’t cross any time zones.
So how exactly can you prevent jet lag? Below are some tried and tested methods
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your body’s system. Research has shown that taking this hormone reduces, or even prevents the effects of jet lag. It enables you to sleep better, speeds up your body’s adjustment process, and it helps you keep synch with the day to night cycle of your destination. The exact timing for when you should take melatonin will depend on your flight time, destination, and current sleep patterns. To be sure, ask a medical professional, or at least someone who has taken the hormone in the past for some advice. Most people recommend that you take melatonin after dark on the day that you travel and after dark when you arrive. You can also consider taking it after dark a few days before you leave for your destination.
Adjusting Your Sleep Patterns
If you don’t want to take melatonin to alleviate your jet lag, you can opt to adjust your body cock manually. You can do this by adjusting your sleep time a few days before you leave. Naturally, the more time zones you cross, the earlier you should make the adjustments. This will give your body a chance to gradually get used to the sleep patterns at your destination. When done successfully, it will enable you to avoid the messy symptoms of jet lag.