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Jet Lag

Jet lag is a common condition that sometimes occurs after long distance flights. It is the result of your body finding it difficult to adjust to a new time zone. Jet lag can disturb your sleep pattern and make you feel drowsy and lethargic (lacking in energy). Jet lag often becomes more severe as more time zones are crossed.

Crossing a number of time zones, disrupts the body's normal 'circadian rhythm'; (your body's natural 24 hour routine). The 'biological clock', or 'body clock', controls when you need to sleep and when you are awake. Sleep problems tend to be more common when people travel from west to east as it is more difficult to advance than to delay sleep.

It also affects:
• hunger
• digestion
• bowel habits
• urine production
• body temperature
• blood pressure
Your biological clock is usually synchronised with your local time so that you feel hungry in the morning and sleepy in the evening. However, after travelling across time zones, your body takes a while to adjust.

Coping With Jet Lag
It is important to adapt yourself to the routine of your destination time zone as soon as possible. The following suggestions might help you avoid sleep problems when travelling:

• Several days before travelling, try to gradually adjust your sleeping habits to the destination time zone.
• As soon as you board the flight, reset your watch for the new time zone.
• While on board, control sleeping including naps.
• Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Dehydration makes it more difficult for the body to adjust to the new rhythm.
• Limit your sleep to no more than two hours immediately after arrival.
• Remember that daylight can help reset your internal 'clock'. Take a one-hour walk as soon as you get up in the morning.
• Avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
• Practice good sleep habits while away.

Babies and children can adjust to new time zones easily and are less likely to experience jetlag. Those over the age of 60yrs or patients who suffer from heart or lung disease may suffer more from jetlag. Always consult your pharmacist for travel advice.

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