Jet Lag

Words - 370 Reading Level - 8.6

Jet lag is a familiar problem for many people who take long airplane trips. It happens if you travel from one time zone to another and your body has trouble keeping up with the change. For instance if you go from the west coast to the east the clock jumps ahead three hours. However your body might remain on west coast time. It may want to stay awake even though the clock says its time to go to bed or it may have you dozing off even though the clock tells you its late morning. The result can be daytime fatigue, nighttime sleeplessness and a general feeling of disorientation .

That jet lag occurs in so many people really is no surprise. After all our bodies have elaborate internal clocks that regulate their biological activities. Hormones that cause sleep are produced at regular intervals to keep your body functioning on a twenty four hour cycle.

To combat jet lag we need to try to reset these natural cycles. The best way is to start preparing for the time change several days in advance. If you know that you are getting ready for a three hour time change on a cross country flight slowly begin getting ready for you new schedule a few days before you leave. Start going to bed and getting up earlier or later depending on which direction you are traveling. That will help get you body in sync with the new time zone. Once you get where you are going stay outside in natural light because your body takes time cues from the sun. If you are traveling east staying outside in the morning or early afternoon might advance your bodies clock. While westward travelers might find that by being out in the late afternoon may push their internal clocks back. Avoid substances that can affect your internal clock and energy level such as alcohol, caffeine and heavy fatty foods.

If you jet lag is especially severe a doctor may be able to recommend medications that can help such as sleep aids or the hormone meletonin. Those are usually a last resort though because it's usually better to let your body adjust naturally to time change.

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