What is Jet Lag?

What is Jet Lag?

In the past we have written articles about how to overcome jet lag which you can read by clicking
Travel and The Body Clock

This article is all about what Jet lag is and what the main symptoms and causes are.

Mayo Clinic defines Jet lag as,”Jet lag, also called jet lag disorder, is a temporary sleep problem that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones.”  Our bodies have biological clocks that tell us when to be awake and when to be asleep. Our bodies become accustomed to the timezone in which we live. It adjusts to the sunlight and darkness hours. When we travel to a new timezone our body becomes confused at the new light schedule and sends incorrect melatonin signals which can cause the effects of jet lag.  

There are several side effects of jet lag. The most common symptoms are the following.

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level
  • Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea
  • A general feeling of not being well
  • Mood changes
  • Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness

There are different causes of jet lag. These include disruption to your circadian rhythms, the influence of sunlight and airline cabin pressure and atmosphere.

 

Disruption to Circadian Rhythms

Your body has an internal clock that has a set sleeping schedule. When traveling to new time zones the body can become confused with the new light and darkness schedule. This disruption can cause jet lag symptoms.

Mayo Clinic shared this example.
“If you leave New York on a flight at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, and arrive in Paris at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, your internal clock still thinks it’s 1:00 a.m. That means you’re ready for bed just as Parisians are waking up.  And because it takes a few days for your body to adjust, your sleep-wake cycle, along with most other body functions, such as hunger and bowel habits, remains out of step with the rest of Paris.” 

This biological clock disruption is one of the biggest causes of jet lag.

The Influence of Sunlight

The body has specific signals of when to release melatonin. Your eyes have certain cells in your retina that transmit light signals to your brain. When there is a lot of light the brain is told to release very small amounts of melatonin. When it is dark the brain is told to release larger amounts of melatonin to the body to signal tiredness. You can ease this cause of jet lag by exposing yourself to daylight as much as possible to adjust to the new timezone.

 

Airline Cabin Pressure and Atmosphere

The most interesting causes of jet lag symptoms is the effect of the airplane. Some studies show that the high altitudes and cabin pressures can cause discomfort despite how many time-zones are crossed. Humidity levels are also very low in airplanes which can cause slight dehydration if a person does not drink enough water. This small dehydration can cause feelings of jet lag.

With several causes of jet lag one might ask how to get over it. As mentioned in the beginning of the article we have posted about tips and tricks and to read those click Jet Lag Tips.

 

Jet lag is temporary, though if you are a frequent traveler it might be beneficial to speak with your doctor or visit a sleep specialist to avoid the symptoms of jet lag. If your doctor suggests melatonin supplements to help ease the pain of jet lag check out World Wide Labs for an all natural option and the Jet Lag Kit.

If you travel and try melatonin supplements and it helps you, please share your timezone adventure in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Mayo Clinic

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