Sleep – Jet Lag and Changing Time Zones

Traveling between one country to another can disturb your body clock as it involves crossing from one time zone to another. The time difference may mean gaining or losing a day depending on the direction you are heading. This usually happens when the distance you need to travel is very big like moving from one continent to another or from one hemisphere to another.

Contrary to what most people believe, jet lag is not caused by the time it takes you to reach your destination but the distance between time zones that you need to travel. For example, although the amount of time needed to travel between Los Angeles and New York is only five hours, a person can still go through symptoms of those jets when they cross the Central and Mountain Time Zones. Crossing Russia, which has eleven time zones, for example, can cause quite a lag. In Alaska, on the other hand, those lag is caused by the small amount of daylight which make it difficult for new arrivals to adjust.

Jet lag generally causes dehydration as well as appetite loss and disorientation. Others may feel groggy, fatigued and nauseous. Some even get headaches, vomiting and sinus irritation. Other symptoms include stomach problems, irritability and depression. Of course, the effects of those lag may vary from one person to another.

The intensity of a jet lag also differs from one person to another. Some people can recover from those lags more quickly than others. Some can take as long as a week to get a hold of the new time zone that they are in. Also, because of high levels estrogen, a hormone that is naturally occurring in women, women tend to be more affected by jet lag as this hormone is affected by any disruption in one’s sleeping and waking hours.

A person’s physical condition can also determine his ability to cope with jet lag. Sleeping well, having a good diet and exercising regularly can make a person more able to adjust to the effects of those lag. Sleeping during the flight can make it easier for a person to adjust to the changes in time zone as long as he doesn’t sleep for many hours after he has reached his destination. Doing so can make him feel disoriented, In fact, some people are given sedatives in order to sleep through the flight and feel refreshed the moment they leave the plane.

Frequent travelers are also less affected by jet lag. People who seldom travel have a higher risk of acquiring those lag because their bodies are not used to the changes in time zone. For this reason, people who have a lot of business trips tend to be less affected by this syndrome even though they tend to take flights at odd hours. Aside from that, the intensity of the effects brought by jet lag also varies from one person to another. Thus, there may be some people who are experiencing intense those lag while others may experience subtle symptoms.