“Jet-lag is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” Linda Perret
Unconsciously we are all creatures of habit, our sleeping, waking, eating and other more basic needs are part of our finely tuned circadian rhythms. Jet lag or flight fatigue occurs when our bodies struggle to adjust to time in a different zone; the good news is it’s only temporary; the bad news is it’s not only adults who struggle with Jet lag, but babies and children as well.
Besides insomnia, there is a litany of physical and emotional symptoms associated with jet lag, just to mention a few: Anxiety, constipation/diarrhea, headache, nausea, dizziness, memory loss and low immunity! Why do we do it?
Recovery greatly depends on the number of time zones crossed; travelling toward the west, your jet lag will be less severe than when you travel eastward. Crossing six time zones will take you approximately three to five days to recover. Jet lag is an annoyance when on holiday, but becomes a real problem when you are travelling for business.
My first encounter with the jet lag monster was when I was 21 and travelling to London from Australia. The flight was 36 hours long with three stopovers, I don’t really remember much of the first three days in London, I was reduced to a addlepated zombie, I slept for days, when I did wake, I was a different person in a whole new world.
Fewer stopovers and shorter flights don’t make things any easier, I was once again visiting London and “Cats” had just opened in the West End. I had been in the city a day when I decided to go to see the brand new musical… big mistake; I promptly fell asleep on the poor person next to me, and vaguely remember having a nightmare about cats in leotards, spray painted by a lunatic. It wasn’t until years later when I finally saw it again that I got what it was all about!
Similar story in New York, only this time I allowed myself a few more days of recovering before hitting Times Square. “Five guys named Mo” was playing, a big musical production, all singing and dancing. It was great, unfortunately the dreaded lurgy caught up with my partner, he slumped forward in his second row seat, much to the annoyance of the old lady in front. During the first half of the show the cast came down into the audience, blowing trumpets and saxophones, inveigling everyone to join a conga line on stage. My very jet-lagged friend slept on oblivious, even when one of the musicians came down and blew his trumpet into his ear!
This jet lag is powerful stuff, but don’t let it ruin your holiday, don’t hark back to what time it is at home, think less about being jet-lagged and you will be far better off!
Some helpful tips.
- Get plenty of sleep before the flight and plan ahead to adjust to the change in time zone.
- During the flight, drink gallons of water, it’s your best friend, avoid heavy meals and alcohol.
- Once you arrive, practice light therapy and spend some time in the sun to help your biological clock adjust.
- Re-hydrate with a long shower or bath and stay up and as active as long as you can.
- Follow the new time zone schedule and go to bed at a normal time, if you wake in the middle of the night stay in bed, practice deep breathing or listen to music.
If all else fails there is a place for medication or herbal supplements, Omega 3, Zinc, and Melatonin are still popular, although for me, Melatonin gave me bizarre movie length dreams! You may want to try a bit of aromatherapy, jasmine oil on your temples or dried chrysanthemum on your pillow.
“A drug called Melatonin has been used effectively on sheep, but how many sheep do you know who are frequent fliers?” Erma Bombeck
Like any negative thought; jet lag should not be encouraged so make sure you keep a healthy mental attitude. Enjoy your new destination and live in the moment!
What’s your secret or not so secret cure for Jet lag?