Jet Lag A Simple Overview
If you have ever suffered from Jet Lag, you will know how miserable it can be an how disruptive to the beginning of your trip it can be. Jet Lag (or being ‘Jet Lagged’) is a commonly used term in air travel, especially by passengers who have travelled on a long journey crossing different time zones. You hear many people talk about it or use the term when referring to be tired after a long flight but what actually is Jet Lag.
What Is Jet Lag
In basic terms, Jet Lag is simply a tiredness and confusion that your body feels after completing a long journey by air. This Tiredness and confusion is generally the result of travelling through different time zones to which your body has to adjust but finds difficult.
Who Suffers From Jet Lag
Although Jet Lag can actually affect anyone of any age, Jet Lag is said to be more common the older we get and it is believed that it affects people in their 60’s and over more than it affects people of a younger age. It is believed (but not scientifically proven) that Jet Lag affects children much less.
What Causes Jet Lag
When your body is subject to passing through different time zones, it has to adjust to the new time zone it has just entered. The more time zones you cross, will affect the severity of your Jet Lag.
The human body has a natural ‘circadian rhythm’ which means it has a 24 hour clock or cycle. This simply means that our daily behaviour is governed by such things as light and darkness. It also is responsible for setting our daily routine (or Body Clock) such as sleeping, waking up and eating. Our body clock is set to the local time of the place in which we live and your own body clock has a set routine and time for when you wake up in a morning, what time you eat your breakfast, when you have your dinner and when you begin to feel sleepy in the evening. As you can imagine, if you are subject to a considerable change in time difference, your body clock will need time to adjust to this new time difference and Time Zone.
For Example: If you live in the UK and you were travelling to Los Angeles, you would be travelling from one time zone to another. The time difference between the UK and Los Angeles is 8 hours, this means that your body clock would have to adjust to this 6 hour time difference. Now this may not seem too difficult in theory but in reality, it can be very hard for the first few days! Here is why.
Let’s say your flight left the UK at 13.00pm (UK time), this would mean it was 05.00am in Los Angeles. The flight time to Los Angeles from the UK is approximately 10-11 hours on a direct flight (13 hours in direct), which means you would be landing in Los Angeles no earlier than 15.00pm local time in Los Angeles, which would be 23.00pm in the UK. Your own body clock would now usually be beginning to feel tired and sleepy and telling you that you are ready for bed. However, although you would usually be getting ready for bed around about this time in the UK, you are now in a different time zone in Los Angeles and it is only 15.00pm in Los Angeles. The dilemma you are then faced with is “do you go to bed when you arrive in Los Angeles or stay awake?” If you go to bed and sleep, you will be waking up when everybody else in Los Angeles is going to bed and your body will be totally out of sync with the new time zone of Los Angeles. The aim is to try to adjust your body clock to the new time zone as soon as possible!
Your Body Clock
As we mentioned earlier, you Body Clock is responsible for setting certain routines in your daily lifestyle and as well as controlling when you eat and sleep, it is also responsible for many other functions that your body undertakes during the day such as:
When you go to the toilet, your digestive system, your blood pressure, your body temperature and also your appetite.
Jet Lag Symptoms
The symptoms of Jet Lag vary for each individual and are determined by how long that person has been travelling and how many different time zones they have cross. Some people experience severe symptoms of Jet Lag whilst others only have to endure mild symptoms.
Tiredness: The most common symptom of Jet Lag is tiredness and this is simply because your sleep pattern has been disturbed and your body is trying to adjust to the new sleep pattern. The hardest part of trying to adjust to this new sleep pattern is to ensure you sleep at the right times but you actually find you are wide awake at night but then feel sleepy late afternoon.
Jet Lag can also affect your body in many other ways and can disturb different areas, patterns, cycles and functions of your body. Listed below are a few of the more common symptoms of Jet Lag.
Other symptoms of jet lag can include:
Concentration: Concentrating can become difficult.
Confusion: Some people experience becoming a little confused
Constipation: As you body clock changes, so can your bowel movements.
Disorientated: Become a little disorientated can be a symptom of Jet Lag.
Headaches: Lack of sleep. tiredness, dehydration and disturbed sleep patterns can cause headaches.
Loss of appetite
Periods: Some women who travel frequently experience irregular periods.
How Long Does Jet Lag Last
Usually Jet Lag only lasts a couple of days until your body has adjusted to the new time zone. How long Jet lag lasts is simply down to the individuals body and how quickly it take the body adjusts.