Jet Lag Report Suggests Three Time-Zone Travel a Problem

Review of 500 articles examines causes, symptoms; offers management advice to travelers

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- With international travel on the rise, jet lag is an increasingly common problem, according to a report published in the March 31 issue of The Lancet. Among the findings: Jet lag is unlikely to be a major problem if the journey crosses fewer than three time zones.

Jim Waterhouse, D.Sc., of Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K., and colleagues performed Web of Science and PubMed searches for January 1997-March 2006 articles with terms such as "jet lag" and "time-zone transitions." They reviewed more than 500 studies on the causes, symptoms and interventions for jet lag.

The researchers recommend that in cases where travel exceeds three time zones and a stay is shorter than three days, which is not enough for the body clock to adjust to the new time zone, travelers should remain on home time and arrange sleep, meals and other activities accordingly. If such a stay is longer than three days, prevention and management of travel fatigue can minimize the effects of jet lag. So can deliberately seeking or avoiding light at the new destination, and maintaining daytime alertness with exercise and/or stimulants such as caffeine.

"We need more detailed understanding of molecular changes associated with time-zone transitions, with a view to developing drugs to promote clock adjustment, and further assessments of new sleep-promoting and alertness-promoting drugs," the authors conclude.

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