Don't Let A Jet Lag, Lag You Behind
Symptoms include insomnia, excessive sleeping, daytime fatigue, dizziness , vertigo, headache, lack of appetite, constipation of diarrhoea and mood changes
With the pandemic wearing out, everyone’s love for travel is in full bloom. Whether it’s pilots, or business or fashion globetrotters, or people on their annual holiday abroad, one common discomfort they all experience over long flights is Jet Lag. Simply put, a jet lag is a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm when you cross 3 or more time zones while travelling towards east or west.
Symptoms include insomnia, excessive sleeping, daytime fatigue, dizziness , vertigo, headache, lack of appetite, constipation of diarrhoea, mood changes and a general feeling of not being too well. The farther one travels, the more severe the symptoms get. How long a jet lag may last depends on the distance and time zones you have travelled. A common belief is that you may take 1 day per time zone to adjust. So if one has travelled across 5 time zones, it may take up to 5 days to get over the jet lag.
Older adults take longer to recover from jet lags. Interestingly, flying eastward is harder than flying towards the west. Breathing in stale air, being confined to a limited space and landing in a different time zone can tax the body and mind.
The following suggestions may help one beat this highly unproductive adjustment period and boost energy level and immunity at the same time :
- A probiotic can be a powerful ally for intestinal functionality that can wane with changing time zones. It’s best to continue your eating pattern according to the time zone you started with.
- A key influence on our internal clock or circadian rhythm is sunlight. Sunlight affects the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that manages the sleep-wake up cycle of our body. Limit exposure to artificial light(that’s why you see some fellow passengers wearing sunglasses in the flight J), and try and increase exposure to natural light(look out for the morning sun when travelling eastward).
- Make sure your vitamins B 12 and D are in optimum range when you travel. You may take a vitamin B 12 supplement when you land at your destination with the first meal you have. That will keep you energized till night at your new time zone.
Vit D will regulate melatonin production in the body. It is best to take a Vit D supplement once 24 hours before you travel and the next one with the first meal at your new destination. This will help you adjust to the new time zone faster.
- If you require melatonin supplements, it’s best to seek your doc’s opinion in case you have any underlying health issues. Foods that help boost melatonin production are walnuts, tomatoes, olives, rice, cow milk, cherries and barley. Try and carry snacks made of these foods or choose from the flight meal menu accordingly.
- Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine at the time of take off. While both may be tempting as stimulants , they also cause dehydration.
- Stay Hydrated: Hydration is important during all flights irrespective of the duration. High altitude & noise, extreme velocity and cold temperatures create more air and space in the body aggravating the vata dosha which in turns upsets the digestive system and causes bloating too. Dehydration can worsen the symptoms of jet lag. Ideally one should consume about 100-150 ml of water per hour of flying time.
- A magnesium supplement can prevent cramps that accompanying a long flight. Magnesium is a calming mineral, a muscle relaxant and can help regulate your circadian rhythm. A mild laxative, it can help prevent traveller’s diarrhoea. Food sources include avocado, seeds, nuts, dried beans & legumes.
Ashwagandha(Withania Somnifera) is a powerful rejuvenating adaptogenic herb that is well-documented for regulating energy, stamina, immunity, longevity and sleep. It can boost energy levels when taken in the morning and support a healthy sleep cycle when taken before bed.
Am sure , with the above tips, you will sail(er… no fly) through your next long flight smoothly…
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