The world is open to those who are looking for new experiences, do not like passive recreation, and want to know more about other countries and continents. During travel and business trips, an acute problem arises for many: jet lag. What is it and how to minimize its undesirable effects on the body?
Jetlag: what does it mean?
The word is borrowed, literally translated from English means “jet plane” in the first part of the word and “lateness” in the second. This condition occurs when the biological rhythms of a person do not coincide with the onset of the day in the country of arrival, if there is a different time zone. The natural reaction of the body can seriously overshadow the trip. An unpleasant ailment with certain symptoms cannot be completely excluded, but it is still possible to relieve some tension. When a person travels by ship, for example, or in a car, the body is smoothly rebuilt, unlike a flight on an airliner. The body does not have time to adapt, hence all the problems that arise.
The symptoms are different. This is a headache, sleep disturbances, a feeling of fatigue, lack of appetite. The body is forced to waste energy on adapting to a new schedule of life, routine. This leads to a decrease in the immune status, a malfunction of the hormonal system may occur, even muscle tone becomes weaker. After a few days, at most after 3 days, the condition returns to normal, but internal processes return to normal only after a week. The hormonal background suffers the most, and that is why excess weight often appears during the holidays.
Symptoms of the disease
The main symptom is sleep disturbance. This is either excessive drowsiness, or, conversely, insomnia. Violations of cyclicity and wakefulness — this is the group to which jet lag was assigned in the International Classification of Diseases. Although jetlag, or desynchronosis (this is the name of the disease that appeared several decades ago), as a concept appeared a long time ago, they began to mention it more often today. The number of travelers has increased, new opportunities have appeared, and the mismatch of rhythms has become an urgent problem for many people.
However, when describing symptoms, they often miss the mention of the root cause of the appearance of such a condition, namely, the actions and therapeutic approach of the attending physician depend on this. Jet lag is the result of a specific reaction of the body to stress, and although jet lag is a common cause of malaise, illness can also occur for other reasons. For example, according to biological — when taking medications, and social, related to the work schedule or moving the clock hands an hour back or forward.
Jetlag occurs in people of all age categories, no matter what their status or wealth, so the disease is quite common. It is important that the term combines a previously disparate description of a similar state: after a vacation, during a session, after working in shifts.
But the people who suffer the most are those who regularly travel long distances and return soon. Airline pilots, diplomats, executives of large corporations, etc. Young people are less affected by the effects of the flight on the body, unlike those who have crossed the milestone of fifty years. The biological clock is set to the usual time, and when the mode of sleep and wakefulness changes, an imbalance of the circadian internal rhythm and solar day occurs in the region where the person arrived.
There is excessive sleepiness during the day or, on the contrary, insomnia on the second or subsequent night. This condition can last for about a week, while working capacity, mood, concentration of attention decrease. Somatic symptoms are also noted: disorders in the gastrointestinal tract, diarrhea, constipation, problems with the menstrual cycle in women.
Most of us tolerate the syndrome easily, and the inconvenience is considered minor, since the symptoms of jet lag pass after a few days. But for the above categories of citizens, the problem can be serious, with relapses, and often the disease becomes chronic. Constant tension, struggle with drowsiness during the day, can cause social discomfort, which leads to the consumption of alcohol more than the prescribed measure, invigorating energy drinks, coffee.
How to minimize the impact?
It matters in which direction the flight is made. When a person heads west (across 5 time zones), the time it takes for full synchronization is 3 days. If the flight was to the east with the same number of time zones, then the adaptation will last about 5 days. There are several methods and approaches to improve adaptation. These are pharmacotherapy, sleep stabilization, stimulation, including light.
If there is no need to control yourself during the day, the trip is short, then nothing is required. But if there are serious negotiations ahead, business obligations are imposed, then it is recommended to change the sleep pattern, focusing on the time zone of the region where you are going to go. Helps to cope with malaise daytime sleep for a short time in the first two days. But do not be too zealous, because if you oversleep for a long time, your sleep will be disturbed at night. Light therapy has proven itself well, although this method is not available to everyone. Bright light can help with adaptation, anyone can illuminate the room in the evening or early morning.
Caffeinated drinks help to cheer up, but care should be taken in this matter as their excessive consumption can provoke insomnia. It is better to drink coffee in the morning.
It is almost impossible to avoid jet lag, but if, for example, you stretch the flight for a whole day, stop in different cities with a transfer, then you can reduce the consequences of the flight. After landing, it is better to take a walk in the fresh air, stretch, stay in natural light longer. You should not immediately go to bed, it is better to orient yourself and adjust to the new time zone. It is useful to drink more water, since the level of fluid has a direct effect on circadian rhythms, and during the flight there is a high need for fluid in the body. That is why you should not abuse alcohol and coffee during the flight.
Yoga classes and any other non-intense exercises have a good effect on the human condition. Stretching is the best solution, since after a long flight it is necessary to activate blood circulation in the muscles and the body as a whole. Moreover, you can also practice during the flight, albeit with restrictions in the options for performing exercises.