Overcoming Jet Lag

Jet lag can be one of the worst, and certainly one of the most frustrating, aspects of long distance travel. Also called desynchronosis (meaning out of time), jet lag occurs when travellers pass through multiple time zones, arriving several hours ahead or behind their home time.

Travelling across several time zones upsets your body's internal clock, which relies on a variety of environmental cues such as daylight and temperature. The degree of jet lag suffered can be measured in terms of the time change you undergo - the greater the difference in time between your home and your new location, the more disoriented your body clock becomes and the more jet lag you are likely to experience.

One major feature of jet lag is seen in your body's struggle between emotional energy and physical lethargy. While your mind is able to process the change in time and location relatively quickly and can rationally appreciate environmental cues such as daylight (or the lack of it) and time of day, your body will be much slower to respond. Although the time to recover will vary from person to person, most people agree that overcoming jet lag, adjusting to a new time zone and resuming a regular sleep cycle can take two or three days or, in severe cases, an entire a week.

Although not necessarily serious, insomnia caused by jet lag can interfere with mental clarity and efficiency and may have some bearing on your emotional state. Jet lag can also make it difficult for business travellers and tourists alike to maximize the opportunities afforded by their stay. What's more, if insomnia caused by jet lag does not pass, or recurs frequently for more than a couple of weeks, it could be indicative of a more persistent sleep problem.

Natural sleep remedies and approaches can be used to effectively manage jet lag and, by taking a proactive approach, you can significantly decrease or limit the severity and number of symptoms - not to mention shortening the duration of your jet lag.

Establishing a regular and consistent sleep schedule before you even start to make travel plans is one important step towards limiting the effects of jet lag. Simple dietary changes like the reduction or elimination of caffeine and alcohol have also proven effective, and travellers who are accustomed to coping with jet lag often bring along natural sleep remedies like herbal teas and infusions to help induce the body's natural sleep cycles upon arrival at their destination.

You may have heard that sleeping pills and other sleep aids are also effective tools for managing jet lag.

Because sleeping pills suppress the body's immune system in order to generate artificial sleep, as opposed to naturally induced restorative sleep, sleeping pills are not always an effective remedy for jet lag. In fact, sleeping pills can potentially exacerbate the symptoms by delaying the adjustment of your internal body clock.

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Donald Saunders is the author of a number of health related publications including: "Help Me To Sleep - A Guide To Natural Sleep Remedies", "Jet Lag - An Alternative Approach", "Shift Work Insomnia" and "The Art of Meditation - A Guide To Meditation, Breathing and Relaxation Techniques"


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