Jet Lag Prevention | Tips to recover faster from it

Jet lag

Jet Lag Prevention

Jet lag prevention is done before, during and after the trip:

– Before the journey:

  • It is very important to leave without lack of sleep. It’s necessary to prevent fatigue by managing recovery (sleep, naps, relaxations);
  • As part of a trip for an important event (professional, sports competition, etc.), it is better to schedule the trip in such a way that the arrival is sufficiently prior to this event;
  • Another solution would be to adjust by shifting your bedtime and wake-up times by half an hour a day, in the days preceding the trip.

TIPS: If the trip is of short duration (two days or less), it is not necessary to try to realign your biological clock with the synchronizers of the environment of the place of arrival; just take naps to avoid feeling too tired and keep to your departure location time.

If you are leaving for more than two days, adapt to the new schedule in stages: Before the trip, start by preparing! If you are traveling west, go to bed two hours later and vice versa if you are traveling east.

Don’t forget to allow time for rest upon arrival. Taking melatonin in the evening, 3 days before departure and 5 days after arrival, can help resynchronize the circadian oscillator when traveling east.

– During the trip:

  • Stay hydrated enough to compensate for the dry air on board planes or cruise;
  • Avoid stimulants (tea, coffee, cola, alcohol) which increase water loss;
  • Avoid heavy meals and follow an “anti jet lag” diet
  • Wear a neck brace;
  • Wear elastic compression stockings, do static muscle exercises, and walk the cabin aisle for blood circulation;
  • Reinforce social synchronizers by setting your watch to arrival time and adopting local meal times upon boarding.

Tips: bring earplugs and ask for a mask to help you sleep. Alcohol (whose effects intensify at altitude) and coffee should also be avoided for the same reason. Eat light to aid digestion and thus promote sleep, and set your watch to the destination time to get used to the new schedule.

– During your stay:

  • Practice an enduring type of physical activity outdoors if possible to benefit from the light effect.
    Exposure to light: natural light or light therapy screens in the absence of sunlight to accelerate adaptation.
  • Follow a diet adapted to energy expenditure and the new sleep-wake rhythm;
  • During the day, avoid naps which could interfere with falling asleep at night and delay adaptation
  • Participate in social activities.
  • Relaxation and mental preparation techniques have a beneficial effect on recovery and the prevention of fatigue caused by jet lag as well as on performance.

TIPS on arrival: try to immediately adjust your pace of life (meals, sleep, activities) to that of your place of arrival. If necessary take a short nap but hold on until the evening, the preparation made previously will help you greatly.

Light remains an element that should not be overlooked: if you are traveling west, put on sunglasses in the morning and take them off in the afternoon to stimulate the retina and thus slow down the desire to sleep. If you are traveling east, do the reverse. Finally, taking a hypnotic for a few days at the place of arrival can help, knowing that it does not accelerate the resynchronization of the circadian rest/activity rhythm with the synchronizers of the place of arrival.

If natural countermeasures are ineffective, it is possible to consider drug treatments. It is recommended to carry out preliminary sensitivity tests before using them to know the effects, both beneficial and harmful.

We can use sleep inducers, substances that improve wakefulness or products that facilitate the resynchronization of biological rhythms.

Managing Jet Lag

With the development of aeronautics and the globalization of both leisure and professional activities, Jet Lag is a very common problem that must be taken into account and managed.

Jet Lag or “desynchronization syndrome linked to jet lag by transmeridian air travel” covers all the symptoms resulting from the adaptation of the body to a new schedule, during a plane or a cruise trip with rapid crossing of at least least three time zones.

The sleep-wake rhythm, like other physiological rhythms (body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, certain hormonal functions, etc.) has a circadian rhythm governed by an internal biological clock and by external synchronizers (light, physical activities such as endurance, work-rest alternation and other social rhythms, etc.).

Under normal conditions, the biological clock is in phase with the external synchronizers. After crossing several time zones by plane, there is a sudden shift between the internal biological clock and the external synchronizers of the place of arrival, resulting in the ability to adapt to the sleep-wake rhythm being exceeded.

Managing jet lag requires a good knowledge of sleep regulation mechanisms, which will help to implement behaviors that accelerate adaptation to the new environment.

Jet lag syndrome results from 3 associated disorders

  • An external desynchronization: shift in the times of meals, activity and falling asleep.
  • Internal desynchronization: the adaptation of circadian rhythms to new schedules does not occur at the same speed for all biological rhythms.
  • Some sleep deprivation due to the trip itself and the traveler’s activities.

The severity of the symptoms depends on the nature of the jet lag (direction of travel) and individual factors (type of sleeper, age):

  • It is not so much the number of time zones crossed that counts but the direction of travel.
  • Adaptation is easier towards the west (because it is relatively easy to lengthen the duration of wakefulness, which goes in the direction of internal biological rhythms than towards the east (it is more difficult to shorten the awake time). The readjustment time is approximately 1 day for a 1½ hour shift to the west, and 1 day for a 1 hour shift to the east.
  • Adaptation is easier in late sleepers than in early sleepers.

With age, we can observe more significant symptoms and a longer adaptation time to fight them.

The most frequently encountered symptoms are a feeling of general malaise, fatigue, sleep disorders, daytime sleepiness, mood disorders, reduced performance (cognitive and physical), gastrointestinal disorders (pain, diarrhoea), the exacerbation of a pre-existing pathology (diabetes, cardiac pathologies) and the risk of failure of oral contraception.

The prevention and treatment of jet lag begins with a good understanding of desynchronization syndrome. The disturbances felt during a rapid movement of more than three time zones are normal and result from the adaptation of the organism to the new schedule. However, certain recommendations make it possible to limit the negative effects. These tips are valid for stays of more than three days. For stays of less than three days, it is better not to try to adapt.

Sources: PinterPandai, WikipediaWeb MD

Photo credit: Varvara / Flickr

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