Jet lag and how to cure it
You’re on your dream holiday to some far-off destination, and you’re excited the minute you land - until the leg lag hits. It can happen as soon as you arrive or knock you out when you get home (or both), and it can take up to five days to recover from. That’s a long time when you’re experiencing daytime sleepiness, nightly insomnia, a loss of appetite, and poor coordination.
So why do our bodies react so badly to crossing time zones, and how can we solve the problem? Let’s start with a little lesson on jet lag.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag meaning is a common and non-serious (but annoying) disorder that usually arises when we travel a long way for work or holiday. It occurs when our circadian rhythm is disrupted because it’s no longer in tune with our environment. Basically, our body might think it’s time to go to bed because it’s 10pm at home, but in our new destination it’s lunchtime and the sun is shining. We consciously want to stay awake and enjoy the sun (and eat lunch with everyone else), but our bodies are begging for sleep.
Other names for jet lag are ‘flight fatigue’ and ‘desynchronosis’, but they’re really just fancy ways of saying the same thing. It all happens because the world has 24 time zones, one for every hour in the day, and when we travel across them, the time ‘changes’ so it’s in sync with the rising and setting of the sun in that part of the world. Unfortunately, it’s just not something our bodies have evolved to handle - hence the jet lag.
Jet lag symptoms
So what does jet lag feel like? Well the most common feature of jet lag is, of course, tiredness (or conversely being wide awake during the night). But it’s not quite that simple. Feeling sleep deprived can put us in a bad mood and seriously disrupt our bodily functions, too. Other symptoms of jet lag include:
- Headaches (often caused by tension or dehydration)