Some Helpful Tips to Minimize Jet Lag
Jet lag, time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis, occurs when travel across time zones disrupts your internal body clock, resulting in mental, emotional and physical symptoms such as follows;
- Daytime sleepiness and lethargy followed by nighttime Insomnia
- Anxiety, irritability, confusion and poor concentration
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Headache, nausea, indigestion, dehydration and/or general malaise
The mental effects are fairly well-established, but recent research suggests jet lag can have a significant effect on your physical performance as well, a finding of particular importance for athletes who travel to participate in games and races.
As a general rule, your body will adjust to the time zone change at a rate of 1 time zone per day.
To prevent athletic deterioration due to jet lag baseball teams may want to make sure their starting pitchers are on location a day or two earlier when cross-country travel is required.
This would allow their internal body clocks to adjust to the local time zone, allowing them to perform at their best.
Other athletes would be wise to follow the same advice, especially if you are traveling eastward, which tends to desynchronize your internal clock more severely than westward travel.
If you cannot squeeze in an extra day or 2, you could fake it by pretending you are in your destination time zone while still at home.
This suggestion may be particularly helpful if you’re traveling with young ones. It’s hard to rest and recuperate when you have 1 or more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed children rearing to go at 4:00a once you reach your destination.
To do this, simply wake up and go to bed according to the destination time rather than your local time. In the morning, be sure to expose yourself to bright full-spectrum light If the Sun is not yet up, use a clear incandescent light bulb along with a cool-blue spectrum LED to shut down melatonin production.
An example: if you were to travel from New York to Paris, start going to bed 1 hour earlier each day, 3 days ahead of your flight, and avoid bright light for 2 to 3 hours before going to bed.
This may necessitate closing the blinds or shades, and turning off all lights and electronic screens. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine. When you wake, be sure to get some bright sunlight exposure.
If it’s still dark out, use a light box or the artificial light combination mentioned above. Also be sure to shift your mealtimes accordingly.
Wear your blue-blocking glasses on the plane if you are traveling at night and continue wearing them until you get to bed. The excess blue light without the balanced red and near-infrared will seriously impair your melatonin production.
Once you get to your destination, it is best to get up close to sunrise and go outside and look in the direction of the Sun. You can safely do this for about an hour after sunrise.
This will help to reset your melatonin production. If weather and circumstances allow, it would be best to do this outdoors with your bare feet on the ground.
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