Jet lag is the disruption of sleep patterns which occurs when you travel between time zones on long-haul flights. Jet lag is most severe on daytime flights traveling from west to east.
Every cellular system in the body works on a 24-hour cycle and in accordance with signals sent from the brain. A change in time zones can disrupt this balance. Passengers traveling between time zones are likely to experience jet lag and a disruption to sleep patterns.
Precautions you can take before flying
- Relax before traveling, eat healthily and strengthen your immune system.
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep before flying and do not leave preparation until the last minute.
- One day before traveling, set your watch to the local time of your destination.
- Before traveling east, try to get up earlier for a few days. If you are traveling west, go to bed a little later and sleep a little longer in the mornings.
Precautions you can take while flying
- Try to stay awake on the plane. To stay awake, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods rich in protein. Cheese, fish, meat, eggs and dairy are good choices.
- Eat light to reduce the effects of jet lag.
- Drink plenty of water while flying to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol.
- Take a vitamin C supplement.
- Take a little exercise while on-board to promote circulation.
Precautions you can take after flying
- If you arrive at night, try to sleep even if you are not tired.
- Be exposed to as much daylight as possible.
- Drink herbal tea to aid sleep.
- Do not take sleeping tablets.
- Try to exercise.
Precautions you can take on your journey home
- Do not forget that jet lag can affect you in both directions of travel. In fact, the potential for jet lag can be even greater on your way home.
- Try not to sleep on your return flight.
- Try to resist sleeping when you arrive home. Try to sleep at your normal bedtime.
- Do not consume anything which might interrupt your sleep up to five hours before going to bed.
- Be sure to move around and get your circulation going.
- Try to sleep. If you cannot sleep, do something which does not require much energy, like reading in low light.
- Do not forget that jet lag is only temporary.