General Health Friday April 26, 2013

Travel health infographic: Jet lag action plan

For some, the flight journey can be a pleasant experience; however, for the majority any excitement felt whilst crossing multiple time zones, is threatened by the risk of jet lag. A major cause behind tiredness and confusion, jet lag not only affects you when air bound; the symptoms of jet lag can stay with you throughout the duration of your stay. Although jet lag can be a serious challenge, learning about the condition and how best to prevent it will keep you mentally prepared for your next journey.

What is jet lag?

Jet lag is defined as the body's inability to adjust to a new time zone, manifesting as feelings of grogginess and confusion. These effects occur due to a disruption to your body's circadian rhythm (otherwise known as your biological clock) when travelling long distances by air. Managed by daylight, your circadian rhythms are accustomed to a fixed 24-hour cycle. However, when you travel to a new time zone your circadian rhythms are disrupted, and this is when jet lag and its associated symptoms set in.

According to the health directory Bupa, symptoms of jet lag are more severe when travelling east because your body's internal clock finds it harder to adjust to a shorter day than a longer one

Symptoms of jet lag

The severity of jet lag can vary from person to person. The most common symptoms of jet lag, as cited by the NHS are: a disturbed sleep pattern, disorientation, nausea, headaches, sweating, anxiety, muscle soreness, clumsiness, confusion, a lack of concentration, diarrhoea, and in women irregular periods.

How to prevent jet lag

Following a jet lag prevention plan may help to lower your risk of the symptoms associated with this condition. Many studies have looked into the ways in which the threat of jet lag can be reduced. Useful tips include:

  • Adjust your sleeping pattern a few days before you travel to the new time zone
  • Rest during the flight and take frequent naps
  • Opt for light meals during the flight
  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids through the journey
  • Stretch your legs and take frequent walks in the cabin
  • Take prescription jet lag treatment – depending on the severity of your jet lag to help alleviate symptoms
  • Seek natural sunlight once you arrive
  • Eat light meals once you arrive
  • Exercise to improve your sleeping patterns and blood circulation
  • Eat a high protein breakfast the first morning upon arrival to prevent tiredness

Jet lag can have a huge influence on how much we enjoy our travel/holiday plans. Although jet lag can be demanding, learning what the best defences are against the condition, from reliable sources like Health Express and putting them into practice, will go a long way to help protect you against jet lag, and allow you to maximise pleasure from your trip.

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Travel health infographic: How to beat jet lag

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