Do you travel across different time zones a lot? Though exploring numerous regions is fun, it may disrupt your normal sleep schedule and cause some disorientation. Most travelers have to deal with jet lag disorder, a condition that many may not be aware of. Though it may be temporary, it can come with symptoms that make you uncomfortable during and some few days after your journey.
Every human has an internal body clock that determines your sleep schedule. Jetlag disorder interferes with your body clock since your body takes time before adjusting to a new time zone. As you struggle to cope with a new schedule in another country, you may experience some symptoms. Today, we will help travelers understand this disorder so that they can prepare themselves adequately and know how to cope. Find out more!
Why does jet lag occur?
Your body follows the internal biological clock that completes a full cycle within 24 hours in a day. The brain consists of a part known as the hypothalamus which is responsible for activating functions such as sleep, hunger, and thirst. It acts as a natural alarm clock. The brain also regulates your body temperature and hormones.
The optic nerve fibers located in the eye transmit light signals to the hypothalamus to help your body distinguish the daytime from nighttime. During traveling, your eyes start perceiving dusk or dawn later or earlier than usual depending on which direction you are moving to. The hypothalamus starts triggering activities that your body is not prepared for, thus causing jet lag disorder.
What are the symptoms?
Jet lag symptoms may differ in intensity depending on how many time zones you may be crossing. Flying across two or more time zones may cause intense jet lag symptoms. Some people experience mild symptoms while others get severe ones which may require a doctor’s intervention.
Though the symptoms vary with individuals, you can experience fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, dehydration, confusion, irritability, and sweating. Other travelers start getting dizzy or suffer from temporary memory loss. Changes in your bathroom schedule may cause abdominal problems like diarrhea and constipation. You may have trouble concentrating on one thing or even coordinating since the brain becomes disoriented for a while before adjusting to new schedules.
A study reports that children who cross different time zones at a young age can have jet lag symptoms which affect their IQ. Though most people overcome these symptoms after a while, you should talk to a doctor if they get severe and don’t seem to disappear on their own.
Jet lag can interfere with your sleep patterns by causing sleep deprivation or insomnia. A traveler who has a heart condition may suffer from a heart attack due to symptoms that accompany the disorder. That is why you must understand your body before traveling and look for ways to cope with the condition if it occurs.
Some other risk factors that can trigger this disorder include age, pre-existing condition, alcohol use and the conditions of the flight. Old adults who love traveling may have problems recovering from jet lag disorder. If you already have poor sleep habits, it may get worse from traveling. Some flight conditions such as cramped seating, lack of movement, monotony, and altitude also increase the chances of experiencing jet lag.
The strategies of preventing and coping with the jet lag disorder?
A combination of some home remedies and medical treatment can help you prevent the condition or even cope with the symptoms. Start by implementing the following.
Ensure that you remain in shape long before you start planning on traveling to a different time zone. Work out frequently and maintain a healthy diet to prepare your body to adjust well without such complications. Take enough sleep every day and be consistent with your sleep schedule. If you are in the best physical condition, start making changes early enough before you travel.
Check-in with your doctor
If you have conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, you should not skip this step. Bring along your medication and keep in touch with your doctor just in case.
Adjust your schedule
You should work on adjusting your schedule before taking off. You can, for instance, start sleeping a few hours earlier than you usually do so that you can allow the body to begin adjusting to a new routine. This practice will make it easy for your body to adapt to the new schedule saving it the shock of having to adjust at once.
Move around on the plane
We mentioned that immobility could trigger jet lag symptoms. Therefore, do not remain seated the entire journey. Move around as you stretch your legs to prevent blood clotting in your legs. Seating down for hours reduces the flow of blood to the legs since the plane seat exerts pressure against the veins. Avoid napping for hours during your flight.
Take a lot of water during the trip to prevent your body from dehydration. The plane contains a lot of dry air, and the remaining hydrated counteracts this effect. Once you get to your destination, you should also take enough water to help your body function well preventing yourself from jet lag symptoms such as constipation. Avoid taking alcohol during this period since it can trigger severe symptoms.
Confirm the condition of your accommodation
If you are moving to a different time zone, ensure that you make your accommodation as comfortable as possible. Visit Costco mattress and purchase a comfortable mattress to prevent yourself from jet lag symptoms such as insomnia. Get comfortable pillows and clothes to sleep in so that you can help the body adjust quickly to a new sleep schedule.
Try to form a healthy sleep pattern without relying on sleep medications. A sedative on the first day after your trip is okay, but you should not make it a habit. If you are experiencing insomnia, try herbal remedies such as valerian root.