Jet lag, also known as the jet lag disorder, is a temporary sleep problem that can affect anyone who travels across multiple time zones is a short span of time. Traveling across continents confuses your body's internal clock which has its own rhythm (circadian rhythm).
According to Handy, the symptoms of jet lag include daytime fatigue, mood changes, sleep disturbances, stomach problems, anxiety, etc. Fortunately, the symptoms are temporary, and you will get better once you receive enough sleep.
Here are some reasons why we get jet lag:
1. Disruption of your circadian rhythms - Your body has an internal clock system or circadian rhythm, that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When you cross multiple time zones, this rhythm is put out of sync with the local time of the new locale you are in. This disrupts the internal rhythm of the body that may be preparing to sleep at the sunrise time in a new locale that is ahead in the time zone.
2. Sunlight is a key factor - The internal clock of your body is regulated to a great extent by the sunlight. This is because light influences the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronize cells throughout the body. Certain cells in the retina of the eye transmit light signals which tell the brain to produce little melatonin. At night, when the light signal is low, the cells direct the brain likewise, and this results in the release of melatonin. So, if you wish to adjust quickly to the new time zone, expose yourself as much as possible to daylight.
3. Airline cabin pressure - Studies have revealed that sometimes, irrespective of traveling across time zones, changes in cabin pressure may contribute to some symptoms of jet lag. High altitudes associated with air travel expose the body to a new rhythm and it may result in jet lag. Being an older adult makes this jet lag even worse, as the body has reduced capacity to cope with changes with growing age.
4. Humidity levels - Humidity levels are low in planes. If you do not drink enough water during the flight, the body tends to get slightly dehydrated. The consumption of water contributes to a lot of metabolic activities in your body. Lack of it or not adequate amount of it may trigger some symptoms of jet lag.
5. Sleeping on the flight - If you are getting bored in the flight and steal a couple of hours to sleep en route, your body awakens fresh and bright. In case you are traveling west, and it is almost sundown by the time you reach your destination, your body is satiated with the sleep and resting part. This makes it even more difficult to have a night's sleep in the new locale.
Jet lag is a temporary phase and easily adjustable in a couple of days. Stay hydrated and arrive early if you have an important event to attend. Handy thinks that if you take these steps, you can easily minimize the symptoms of jet lag.