Don't Let Jet Lag Ground You
Simple steps can get you off on the right foot
(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)
SUNDAY, July 27, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Overseas vacations are great fun, but jet lag can leave you miserable if you don't take precautions to reduce its impact.
Jet lag occurs when you travel across several time zones in one day and your internal body clock gets out-of-step with the time at your destination. The more time zones you cross in a day, the more likely you are to suffer jet lag, and it's usually worse when you travel from west to east, says the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
Symptoms include sleep problems that can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weakness, memory problems, clumsiness and irritability. Headache, appetite loss and upset stomach are other symptoms of jet lag.
The AAFP offers some suggestions on how to prevent and treat jet lag. They include:
- Get enough rest before your trip.
- Drink plenty of water and other beverages to keep you hydrated. Avoid alcohol or drinks that contain caffeine.
- Adjust your daily routine to the new time schedule at your destination as soon as possible. That includes meals, sleep and other activities. You might even start making those schedule changes before you leave on your trip.
- After you arrive, get outdoors in natural light as much as possible.
- People who don't have epilepsy or take medicine to prevent blood clotting can take melatonin -- a dietary supplement -- when they arrive at their destination. Some studies indicate that small doses of melatonin (5 milligrams or less) taken at bedtime may decrease jet lag.
- You may get jet lag no matter what you do. Plan your vacation schedule so you don't try to do too many things for the first two days of your trip.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about jet lag.