Jet lag, or desynchronosis, is a condition that’s caused by crossing time zones during air travel . It is said to be a symp-tom of the disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms—i .e ., the day/night, light/dark cycle, which controls the timing of bodily functions such as when you sleep and eat .
Other contributing factors to jet lag are the dry atmos-phere of planes and the lack of fresh air; the discomfort caused by cramped conditions; swelling caused by cabin pressure; the food and drink consumed in transit; and the direction of travel . North/south travel doesn’t result in jet lag because the time zone remains the same, while some suggest that flying east results in the worst jet lag, as it accelerates the passage through the time zones and that, because time is “lost,” there is less time to “absorb” (the human body is more adept at compensating for enduring longer days than shorter ones) . Others maintain that jet lag is greater when traveling away from your normal time zone than toward it .
The symptoms of jet lag are irregular sleep patterns and insomnia, fatigue, confusion and disorientation, irritability, headaches, nausea, dehydration and a loss of appetite . It’s estimated that one day of recovery time is needed for every one-hour time zone crossed .
The effects of jet lag can be reduced in various ways . For example, before a flight you should be well rested and relaxed. Plenty of exercise before a flight can help, too, and no alcohol should be consumed beforehand, though some medical professionals suggest the taking of certain drugs and hormonal supplements .
To reduce the effects of jet lag while in the air, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol (it’s thought that the effects of alcohol are more pronounced at high altitudes) and caf-feine-based drinks . Get as much exercise as possible by stretching in your seat or walking about the plane . Remove your shoes and get comfortable . Adjusting your watch to the new time zone can also be psychologically beneficial .
Once you’re on the ground, take a shower to get your blood moving, drink plenty of water and try to adapt to the environment of the new time zone as quickly as possible . Maximizing your exposure to the sun can help you to adjust to your new environment, so you shouldn’t sleep upon arrival; instead, wait until night .