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What is Jet Lag and how to avoid it?

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What is Jet Lag and how to avoid it?

Jet lag, also known as jet lag, is a temporary sleep disturbance that can occur to anyone who travels rapidly across several time zones.

How can the feeling of tiredness and time distortion known as jet lag be reduced?

For many, travel is a great experience, and the thrill of getting on a plane and seeing the world from the sky keeps many passengers awake and excited; others are used to travelling on a more regular basis and are not as surprised as the former group. However, both groups share the same symptoms on certain flights that involve a change of time zone: jet lag. 

We all know that our bodies have their own internal clocks, known as circadian rhythms, which "alert" us when to be awake and when to sleep. The famous Jet Lag phenomenon occurs because our body clocks are still synchronised with the original time zone we left, not the time zone we travelled to. Therefore, the more time zones we cross, the more likely we are to experience jet lag.

Sunlight and blue lights from screens have a major effect on our biological clock by affecting the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronise cells throughout the body. In addition, cells at the back of the eye, known as the retina, send out light signals that activate an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. At night, when light signals are low, the hypothalamus stimulates the pineal gland to release melatonin, which is why it is easier to sleep.

During the day the opposite happens and the pineal gland secretes very little melatonin. For this reason, when travelling by plane, you will notice that aircraft lights are dimmed or switched off to help the body adapt and reduce the unconscious disorientation of passengers or in certain cases all the window "blinds" are closed.

What are the main symptoms of jet lag?

Jet lag can cause daytime fatigue, general malaise, difficulty in staying alert and even gastrointestinal problems. These symptoms are temporary, but can significantly reduce your comfort on holidays or business trips. Fortunately, there are some very simple measures that can help prevent or reduce jet lag:

  • If your destination is at night, try to sleep on the plane.
  • Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help block out noise and light. 
  • Try to wake up an hour before landing.
  • If it is daylight at your destination, resist the urge to sleep.
  • Stay hydrated (there are low humidity levels on planes), this will help prevent headaches and fatigue.
  • Take a day's rest when you arrive at your destination.
  • Do not abuse high caffeine drinks.
  • Use medication containing melatonin 30 minutes before departure.
  • Try to eat light meals before and during the flight.

In addition, studies suggest that if you are travelling to destinations with a large time difference, it is ideal to fly at night as you will be able to give your body the rest it needs to arrive with more energy and less disorientation. 

Finally, studies suggest that intense early morning exercise on the first day after jet lag may speed up adaptation to the new time zone better than light or melatonin treatments.

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