J is for Jet Lag

J is for Jet Lag

 

I debated between jet lag and Japanese Encephalitis, but decided to go with jet lag as there are so many people from around the world that are involved in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and I will be traveling soon and this will likely be a big issue, so jet lag it is!

 ⇐ ⇑ ⇔ ⇓ ⇒

J is for jet lag. Jet lag is the general term used for a disruption in circadian rhythm secondary to traveling rapidly across time zones. Although not a disease, can affect quality of life for people when traveling, at least in the short-term.

View out the window flying into Dublin

View out the window flying into Dublin

Tips for avoiding jet lag differ depending on the direction of travel, although it all is generally based on exposure to sunlight which regulates the biological clock and sleep-wake patterns: bright sunlight resets the internal clock. You want to get onto the schedule of the time zone you are in as quickly as possible. Since bright sunlight wakens the body and delays the onset of sleep time, it is best to be exposed to bright light later in the day when traveling from east to west (your body thinks it is time to sleep, but it may be hours before it is actually night-time). When traveling from west to east, it is best to be exposed to bright sunlight earlier in the day to help awaken the body.

When traveling at night or arriving at your destination at night, then you want to try to increase or decrease light exposure as needed during the flight to fit the time of your destination. When traveling over 10 hours, it is recommended to act as if you are going westward (regardless of direction) and delay activities such as eating and sleeping (if there is not a medical indication otherwise) until the timing is appropriate for your destination.

Time zones

Time to avoid light

Time to seek light

East 6h

0300–0900

1100–1700

East 7h

0400–1000

1200–1800

East 8h

0500–1100

1300–1900

East 9h

0600–1200

1400–2000

(Waterhouse, J.; Reilly, T.; Atkinson, G.; Edwards, B. (2007). “Jet lag: Trends and coping strategies” (pdf). The Lancet369 (9567): 1117–1129. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60529-7. PMID 17398311.  edit)

Recommendations for keeping yourself healthy while flying, include, but are not limited to:

  • wearing compression stockings to prevent clotting in the feet and legs

  • drinking water

  • avoiding alcohol

  • walking around every 1-2 hours to prevent circulation impairment

  • rotating your ankles and raising and lowering your feet at the ankle joint, once again to improve circulation

  • eating enough to keep your glucose levels in line, but not so much as to worsen motion sickness (most common after 9 hours in the air)

  • speaking with your doctor about any potential medical issues and safety of flying BEFORE you are ready to leave

 

And for your viewing and listening pleasure: Casting Crowns “East to West”

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4 thoughts on “J is for Jet Lag

  1. Just got back from Spain, jet lag…oh yea. Flew from Chicago to Madrid which was 8 hours, did manage to sleep as we were in business class and was able to get legs up to avoid swelling; but that was only 1 of the 3 flights. Moving around might be helpful, but it’s not generally possible to do so on a regular flight. Planes have gotten so crowded with not only full flights, but since they’ve jammed in more seats there is no decent aisle space any longer to actually move about the cabin. We left Ohio at 3:30 pm our time which was 8:30 pm in Spain and arrived in Madrid at 8 am their time. Later in the trip we lost another hour, as they sprung forward in the middle of our trip.

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    • Oh, that is rough, springing forward on top of jet leg…eek! We have done the Chicago to Dublin Aer Lingus route a number of times then traveled on via airplane or car. The last trip we took to the UK (Chicago – Dublin – Edinburgh) completely wiped us out for a couple days. It shocked me as it had never quite hit me so hard in the past. Luckily I will be on essentially a 12 hour time change on a 24 hour flight to Mongolia, so hopefully it won’t be quite as bad as the US to Europe!

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    • I had to make a choice and honestly, this blogging challenge is wearing me out! So, I went with the slightly easier research topic. I hope my decision does not result in a Japanese Encephalitis death because I did not educate! EEK!

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