Jet lag occurs when you travel through more than two time zones in a day. If you are taking part in international travel, then this becomes quite easy to accomplish. Traveling from the east coast of the United States to India crosses 10 time zones alone! Symptoms of jet lag include fatigue, weakness, sleepiness and irritability, and can interfere with your vacation or business, making you feel uncomfortable and out of sync. Though it is hard to avoid experiencing jet lag altogether when you’re traveling, Columbia River Occupational Health Clinic in Vancouver, WA offers the following suggestions to help reduce feelings of jet lag during your travels.
Several factors go into how much jet lag will affect you: the number of time zones you are crossing, the direction that you are traveling, the time of day that you are traveling, whether you are leaving for a trip or returning home, and whether you are a morning person or a night person. The more time zones you cross in a single trip, the more likely the time changes will affect you and cause you to feel jet lag.
You may have fewer problems traveling east to west because you are traveling with the sun, therefore gaining hours. Those who are “night owls” will do better traveling west, whereas those who are “early birds” will do better traveling east.
Columbia River Occupational Health Clinic suggests if you are traveling for business, to try and schedule meetings and appointments so that they fall within your normal time clock. Meaning, schedule meetings toward the later part of the day after an eastward flight and in the early morning after traveling west.
Columbia River Occupational Health Clinic suggests the following tips to reduce the symptoms of jet lag:
- Make sure to get adequate sleep before the trips.
- While flying, be sure to drink adequate fluids. Try to avoid alcohol.
- Get as much exercise as you can, walk the aisles if possible or stretch in the seat. This will reduce muscle fatigue. If it is not possible to move on the plane, then try to walk in the airports between flights.
- Use a pillow or other back support to reduce back fatigue.
- If flying east, try taking a nap. However, avoid naps if flying west.
- Use ear plugs or a personal iPod/listening device to reduce fatigue from noise.
For significant time changes, you may want to discuss with a physician about the use of medication to help with sleep. While sleep medication can help, they are not guaranteed to rid you from experiencing jet lag. Allow your body time to adjust to the new local time.
If you are going to be staying at the new time zone for a long period of time, you’ll want to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible. If practical, begin changing meals, sleeping periods and activates to the new time zone prior to leaving. Upon arrival, get into the schedule of the locals. Get as much sunlight as you can to help the brain’s biological clock adjust to the new time zone as well.
Jet lag can be wearisome and a bother when traveling, but there’s no reason it has to dominate your trip, whether it be for business or vacation. Consult an occupational health clinic about other ways to avoid jet lag and other considerations regarding your travels. Columbia River Occupational Health Clinic in Vancouver, WA can answer any questions or handle any necessary medical needs before you travel.