Have you ever dropped into another country after a long flight and for the next couple of days felt like a bag of potatoes? If so, you've experienced jet lag. Horace Sutton coined the term "jet lag" in 1966, though the medical and psychiatric fields more typically use the term transient sleep disorder. Sutton described the feeling as leaving your body behind during long-distance airplane travel. Jet lag occurs when your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour rhythm by which you function, is disrupted when you move to a new time zone. Jet lag often lasts about a week or more depending on the number of time zones that you cross. Each time zone you cross often requires one full day of recovery. While symptoms of jet lag vary, many people deal with the following.
With jet lag, your sleeping times are completely off. It's midnight, and you feel like it's midday with enough energy for a week, even though you know you should be sleeping. On the flip side, daytime seems like the perfect time to catch a nap, yet you probably can't sleep. The result is sleep deprivation and a feeling of general fatigue. You could fix this with a couple of sleeping pills, but letting your sleeping patterns return to normal naturally is best.
It is 9 a.m., you're struggling to focus, and coffee isn't working the magic it normally does. You're probably suffering from fatigue as a result of the change in your sleep schedule and lack of enough rest. Your body may react in various ways to fatigue including mind-numbing headaches, general sleepiness, feeling weak and overall lack of focus. Deal with the symptoms individually in this case.
If you're not sleeping well, your digestive system may join in and go out of whack. You may experience stomach upsets, constipation or diarrhea. Stick to spots with toilets and find some meds to help ease diarrhea or constipation. If these symptoms persist, seek medical assistance to determine if you're suffering from food poisoning or any other abdominal ailment.
Jet lag can also produce confusion. You can't seem to keep a straight line of thought and may feel as if you left your mind at home. Some stimulants, such as coffee, might improve the situation but only for short bursts at a time. You probably need more than stimulants — you need sleep. As your sleep cycle restores itself, this will also fade away.
Moodiness often occurs with jet lag as a result of the sleep deprivation and fatigue. You may not be able to do much about this without dealing with the parent symptoms. Try to relax, and stay in a comfortable environment with comfortable shoes to help keep negative moods at bay.
Due to the dry air in the cabin of the plane, you might tend to experience dry skin, as well as slight difficulty in breathing because of the low humidity in the air. Staying hydrated is the best option to prevent feeling thirsty and avoid possible headaches. Alcohol and caffeine stimulants shouldn't be on your menu as you fly, as they're notorious for extending the period of jet lag if you're not careful.
If your menstrual cycle is delayed or comes earlier than expected while you're traveling, jet lag may be to blame. The change of sleep cycles messes with your hormones. There might not be a real treatment for this, but staying hydrated and having some painkillers with you may help you cope.
With mild sickness or malaise, you can't tell what's exactly wrong with you but you know that something is off. If you're in the thick of jet lag, you might feel quite sick even though there's nothing up with you. Deal with this by trying to rest up and by hydrating.
Traveling across time zones is not inherently natural, and your mind may have trouble hanging on to memories. You just have to wait for this symptom to wear off. It's unlikely to become severe enough to require seeking medical advice.
Nausea is one possible physical reaction to the whole time shift involved in jet lag. It may occur when you encounter a strong odor once you're in the new time zone. Try to reduce the nauseated feeling with over-the-counter remedies or rest.
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