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Jet Lag and Its Causes, Prevention and Treatment

BY: Dexter Ridlon | Category: Health | Submitted: 2010-09-07 06:29:28
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Article Summary: "Jet lag is also known as desynchronosis which is a temporary disorder causing extreme tiredness, insomnia and other sleep disorders due to air travel across different time zones..."


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Jet lag is also known as desynchronosis which is a temporary disorder causing extreme tiredness, insomnia and other sleep disorders due to air travel across different time zones. Some people may also suffer from other ailments resulting out of jet lag, these are:

-Anxiety
-Diarrhea
-Constipation
-Headaches
-Dehydration
-Irritability
-Nausea
-Memory loss
-Confusion
-Sweating

Some also complain of heartbeat irregularities but this is usually rare.

Why does jet lag happen?

Most often when a traveler is unable to cope with different time zones, waking up and sleeping at different time zones the body reacts differently trying to adjust and this suffering due to the irregularities is known as jet lag. When the body tries to cope with the new schedule, sleeplessness, tiredness, irritability and the inability to concentrate, it is known as jet lag. The changed bathroom may cause constipation or diarrhea while the sleep disorders occur as the brain tries to juggles the schedules to work well.

How does the body keep time and the role of melatonin?

There is a small part in the brain called hypothalamus that acts like an alarm clock to activate the body functions timely like thirst, hunger and sleep. The body regulates the body temperature, regulates the blood pressure and the levels of hormones and glucose in the bloodstream. To help the body to keep time of the day, the fibers present in the optic nerve of the eye transmit light and darkness within the hypothalamus. Hence, when the traveler perceives dusk or dawn at odd hours that is not normal the hypothalamus triggers activities that the body is not ready for and this leads to jet lag.

Melatonin is a hormone that helps to maintain body rhythms and jet lag. At sun sets, the eyes see darkness and urge the hypothalamus to release melatonin which promotes sleep. Similarly when the eyes see sunlight they urge the hypothalamus to withhold melatonin production, but, the hypothalamus does not re-adjust its schedule instantly; it takes time.

Best ways to cope with jet-lag

These 10 tips will help travelers cope with jet-lag in the best possible ways:

Stay in shape: A good health goes a long way in helping you with jet-lag. Your physical strength and conditioning will enable you to cope better with your travel especially after landing.

Medical advice: If you are suffering from diabetes or heart disease you should consult your doctor prior to your travel plans.

Schedule: If you are traveling to US or Europe where the time zone is reasonably different then try to set your daily routine back an hour or more three to four weeks before departure. This will help your body get relief from the shock that will set in once you land.

Alcohol: Don't drink alcohol the day of your flight or before your flight. Alcoholic beverages may cause dehydration, disrupts sleeping schedules and causes nausea and leads to discomfort.

Caffeine: Caffeinated beverages are as bad during or before a flight. This can also lead to dehydration and disturb your sleeping schedules.

Drink enough water: This is important to counteract the effects of the dry atmosphere inside the plane.

Move around in the aircraft: You must move your legs from time to time. These help in two ways, first they help to avoid blood clots in your legs due to being inactive and secondly, staying active will help you to stay active, revitalize your body that can ease the symptoms of a jet lag.

Break up your trip: Try to break-journey. It helps in revitalizing and getting refreshed. On long flight to USA from India for example, you can break journey at Europe and take the next flight 2-3 hours later.

Shoes and clothes: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Keep in mind the weather you will face once you land and wear clothes that don't pinch or rub against your skin and clothes that can breathe. Dress for the destination.

Local schedule: The faster you accustom yourself the better your body will adjust to the new place minimizing the effects of jet lag.

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