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Jet Lag, How to Beat It?

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Healthy Holiday Tips

Jet Lag, How to Beat It?

by Dhani Anggara, MD



It is a physiological condition that results from a disruption in the body's circadian rhythms, also known as the body clock. It is seen as a circadian rhythm disorder.

Symptoms tend to be more severe when traveling eastward compared with westward.

Fast facts about jet lag:

  • Jet lag can cause headaches, insomnia, and irritability.
  • Circadian rhythms regulate sleep and other bodily functions.
  • When circadian rhythms are significantly upset due to traveling, it is called jet lag.
  • Ways of reducing symptoms include changing your sleeping patterns, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and getting enough sunlight on arrival.


What is jet lag?

Jet lag can occur when sleep-wake patterns are disturbed. A person may feel drowsy, tired, irritable, lethargic, and slightly disoriented. It can result from traveling across time zones or from doing shift work. The more time zones a person crosses in a short period, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be. Jet lag is related to a disruption in activity and a lack of synchronization in the brain cells of two parts of the brain. The older a person is, the more severe their symptoms will normally be, and the longer it will take for their body clock to get back into sync. Children usually have milder symptoms, and they recover faster.



Symptoms of jet lag is various, depend on each person. They include :

  • sleep disturbances, insomnia, lethargy, and fatigue
  • a heavy, aching head
  • irritability, confusion, and difficulty focusing
  • mild depression
  • loss of appetite
  • a dizzy, unsettled feeling
  • gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea or constipation

Factors that affect which symptoms occur and how severely include the number of time zones crossed and the individual's age and state of health. A range of actions can be taken to help reduce symptoms.



  • choosing flights that arrive in the early evening local time, so that you can aim to sleep around 10.00 p.m.
  • preparing for a long flight eastward, by getting up and going to bed early for several days before, and for a westward flight, get up and go to bed later
  • changing your watch to the destination time zone as soon as you board the plane
  • keeping active during the flight by doing exercise, stretching, and walking along the aisle
  • using an eye mask and ear plugs and aim for strategic napping. Try to sleep when it is night-time at your destination, and sleep for 20 minutes at a time at other times, to reduce sleepiness
  • drinking plenty of water during the flight, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, to minimize dehydration

On arrival:

  • Avoid heavy meals or strenuous exercise.
  • Spend time outdoors preferably in sunlight.
  • Sleep at a "normal" time for the destination time zone.

The sooner a person can adapt to the local timetable, the sooner the body clock will adapt to the new environment. People who travel regularly for work should make sure they get regular exercise.

Source : Medical News Today / By : Christian Nordqvist



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