Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jet Lag

Are you looking for the best ways to avoid Jet Lag? Some travelers advocate the use of melatonin, ambien, and other over-the-counter remedies and prescription drugs.

Here are my thoughts on Jet Lag.....

Wikipedia defines Jet Lag:

Jet lag, also jetlag or jet-lag, is a physiological condition which is a consequence of alterations to the circadian rhythm. Such alterations result from shift work, daylight saving time, altered day length, or as the name implies, transmeridian travel as on a jet plane. They are known as desynchronosis, dysrhythmia, dyschrony, jet lag, or jet syndrome. The condition is generally believed to be the result of disruption of the "light/dark" cycle that entrains the body's circadian rhythm. It can be exacerbated by environmental factors.

Interestingly, jet lag affects women and men differently. Females are more susceptible to jet lag than are males[2] this is in part because estrogen is often vulnerable to jet lag-like conditions[3

Symptoms usually will be experienced differently by different people. Some of the common symptoms that can be associated with jet lag are:

1. Dehydration and loss of appetite
2. Headaches and/or sinus irritation
3. Fatigue
4. Disorientation and/or grogginess
5. Nausea and/or upset stomach
6. Insomnia and/or highly irregular sleep patterns
7. Irritability, irrationality
8. Mild depression

I think I've had just about all of these in varying degrees over the years.

As you can see though, Jet lag is a live and real phenomenon. There are many different so called cures and remedies for Jet Lag. If you travel a lot or work shift work, or somehow experience jet lag and can't seem to deal with it, here are a few tips that have helped me and may help you:

  1. Eat when you're hungry and sleep when you're tired. I've traveled with many people and some have tried to game the system by faking their bodies out. They've tried to stay on their home body time throughout their trip by sleeping during their home sleeping cycles and eating at the normal times. This is a difficult undertaking. And unfortunately, everyone doesn't have the luxury of manipulating their abroad schedules. I've found that my body is frequently the best judge for these things. And by keeping it happy, it in return is better to me. On the eating note - be sure to attempt to eat healthily. A balanced diet including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables works wonders. Stay away from greasy and fatty foods. Another key ingredient is hydration. Be sure to drink lots of water. Try to stay away from excessive sugary drinks and sodas. Drink a cup of tea when you can. Green tea if you're able. Tea is loaded with antioxidants and will relax you.

  2. Use Alcohol and Caffeine in moderation: Both are stimulants and both will impede good quality sleep. While alcohol may tend to make you sleepy at first, it steals quality REM (rapid eye movement sleep - the best kind) sleep from you later. And we all know how bad you can feel the next morning after pounding a few brewskis. Enough said!

  3. Get some exercise and sunlight: Make sure you find some time for some sort of regular exercise. Even if you don't normally exercise at home, make an exception on the road. Most hotels have a gym or exercise room. Try to combine some sort of cardiac/aerobic workout with some light weights. A good brisk walk or run outside is also encouraged if you can fit it in. Be sure to work in some exposure to sunlight. Don't turn into a vampire by sleeping all day long and staying awake at night. This is sure to exacerbate the problem away and at home.

  4. Nap, Nap, Nap........ Naps have been the single best cure for jet lag for me. I generally try to take a nap as soon as I can after arriving the first day. This generally applies to morning arrivals. So when I'm traveling, as soon as I check into the hotel I try to relax for a few minutes by reading and then catch a quick nap. The key here is not to sleep too long. Anything longer than four hours is too long. Set an alarm or arrange for a wake up call and then get up and do something. This is a good time for #3: exercise and sunlight. And then try to go to bed that night at a reasonable time.

  5. Pack your tools: In your toolkit you should have earplugs and eye guards. These will help you sleep if you're hotel room or sleeping accommodations are noisy or too bright. In your kit also have some tape or thumbtacks to secure the curtains if necessary. You want to keep your room as dark as possible so that you are not falsely awakened before you're ready to get up. Finally, be sure to take sunglasses with you. Scientists in Edinburgh have found that people can adjust their body clocks when travelling to different time zones by altering their light patterns. See the story here: click.

  6. Pamper yourself: Lastly, find something you really enjoy doing and pamper yourself. Take a hot bath, get a massage, splurge on a fine meal, go see a play. Whatever it is that floats your boat, treat yourself. I like to sneak out and catch a movie when I'm on the road. Try it: Pamper yourself a little bit and you'll be surprised at how much better you'll fell about everything.

So that's my take on the big J L (jet lag). Hopefully these tips will help mediate your exposure.

All the Best!

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