Coping with Jet Lag
Our bodies adjust to a natural rhythm that promotes
sleeping at night and being active and alert during daylight hours.
When we travel across differing 'time zones' our normal rhythm is
altered. The sleep disturbance and loss of ability to concentrate,
as well as the irritability felt during that time is called jet
The earth is divided into 24 time zones, with time
changing by one hour for every 150 of travel east or west of the
Greenwich meridian. Travelling from London to New York necessitates
turning your watch back by five hours, whilst travelling to Japan
entails turning your watch forward by nine hours (nine time zones).
Hence arriving in Tokyo by plane from London at bedtime your body
will feel as though it is lunchtime. It takes time (about one day
per time zone crossed) to adjust to local time.
Ways of reducing Jet Lag
In order to cope with Jet lag you should get a good
deal of sleep before your journey. It is also important to rest
as much as possible during your flight. Planning to arrive at your
destination as near to the time when you normally go to sleep will
also help with the adjustment. If you are able to plan your itinerary
allow time on arrival for adjustment.
Some people advise changing their watches to destination
time when they get onto the plane. While this helps many people,
for those who are on regular medication, such as diabetics, watches
should remain on home time until you are able to adjust your medication
to local times on arrival at your destination or as suggested by
your health advisor.
On arrival at your destination get active as soon
as possible and adjust your meals and activities to local time as
soon as you can. Exposure to light is also a good way of naturally
allowing your body to adjust. If you need to take a short nap -
use an alarm clock or a helpful friend to wake you up!
Medication in reducing the effects of Jet-lag
For those with important schedules and meetings
it would be worth discussing with your doctor the possible benefits
of a mild sleeping tablet for 2-3 days whilst you adjust.
The drug melatonin is used frequently in the
USA - although research is limited. Taking the drug is advised just
before bedtime. After taking the drug you should avoid driving as
it can make you very drowsy.