If you fly much, chances are you’ve experienced jet lag. This unwelcome bi-product of traveling is a result of disrupted sleep patterns caused by passing through multiple time zones in a short period of time.
Disrupting your body’s internal clock can make you feel terrible – from fatigue, disorientation, absent-mindedness and vertigo, to headaches and loss of appetite.
Fortunately, there are some very simple things you can do to reduce the effects of jet lag. First of all, try to be well rested before you leave, and then get as much rest as possible on the airplane. (This isn’t easy, I know. I’ve never flown in a “comfortable” airplane seat.)
Remember to drink plenty of fluids (water or juice) prior to departure. During the flight, eat light meals and limit your consumption of alcohol. Some people find that short-acting sleeping pills aid with the adjustment of sleeping. However, be sure to speak with your physician about this first.
Melatonin has been touted as a jet lag cure. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. It’s highest at night and affects the sleep pattern. Some say that it works well for jet lag. However, opponents say that not enough research has been done on melatonin and its effects. As with any pill, do your homework and talk to your doctor before taking it.
For those who cross two or more time zones frequently or are traveling overseas, more assistance may be needed.
Here are several excellent resources:
World Health Organization
Chapter on Jet Lag
Doctor Travel’s Cure for the Common Trip by James Feldman (go to http://www.doctor-travel.com/jetlag.html to read an excerpt from the book)
Information on Melatonin
No Jet Lag