July 23, 2024

Jet lag is the most inconvenient feeling for a traveler flying quickly over multiple time zones.
It is also called “desynchronosis” – a temporary physiological condition that occurs when a person’s circadian rhythm (our own internal clock that signal’s when to stay awake or when to sleep) is out of sync with the time zone he is in.
When a person’s body clock has not yet adjusted to the time zone of his destination, his eating habits, and “sleep-wake” patterns are disturbed.
Jet lag causes daytime fatigue, an unwell feeling of daytime sleepiness, the trouble of staying alert, headache, drowsiness, stomach disorder, and reduced mental and physical disorder may last several days before a traveler becomes fully adjusted to the new time zone where he is in.
Based on medical findings, a traveler’s body can adjust naturally to one to 1.5 changes in time zones per day, but symptoms can arise if a person crosses more than two time zones in a day.
The more time zones that a person crosses in a short period of time, it is likely that the person will experience severe jet lag symptoms. It is also observed that people who have travelled eastwards may find it harder to sleep at night, while those travelling westwards might find they wake up too early.
About two weeks ago, my wife Nena and I travelled from Barcelona, Spain to San Francisco, U.S.A. We took a 12-hour direct flight that crossed over eight time zones. Our plane departed at about 4 p.m. of Saturday and arrived in San Francisco at 7 p.m. of Saturday.
Our body clock when we arrived had not yet adjusted to the time in California, thus, we were still sleepy because following the Barcelona time that our body clock was used to, it was 4 a.m. of Sunday.
We were sleepy as we arrived in San Francisco and we kept awake until 10 p.m. so we could start adjusting to the California time zone. However, I woke up at noon, while Nena told me she woke up at about 4 a.m. We still had to adjust to California time because of insomnia and a lethargic state we were in for the days that followed.
Some decades ago, when I travelled long-distance flights over several time zones, the effects of jet lag just slightly affected my well-being upon arrival at my place of destination, still filled with vigor and enthusiasm to be with my long-missed siblings and in-laws; alert and vocal when I attended international meetings of civic organizations.
It must be the excitement of travels abroad and youthful enthusiasm in attending conventions and meeting fellow youths that somehow shook-off the effects of jet lag or, it is just the age. Youthful passion, joy, and excitement that international travel brings has already faded in time.
The elderly thought of travel is no longer appealing and unwelcome if not for the need to reunite with family and dearest friends and because travelling and connecting with people is one activity that gives meaning to your life or…would prolong it if you think there is still a purpose to fulfill.
So, whatever grueling experience that travelling brings, we shall continue to do so until we have the will to do so. We shall follow certain pieces of advice that shall make our travel comfortable, including choosing wide comfortable reclining seat with foot and leg rests, warm blanket, and pillow.
We read that eating a hearty breakfast in the time zone of our final destination is a simple and effective solution for jet lag. Add to this is avoiding a meal late at night before your flight.
Other tips that I read suggest: going to bed one to two hours earlier than usual in the last few days before travel; stay hydrated during travel; limit, if not avoid, alcohol and caffeine intake; stretch on the plane – it is important to stand up and move a few times to prevent muscle stiffness; make time to be physically active at your destination.
These are just a few tips that help in realigning your body rhythm to your new time zone.
So don’t let jet lag or advanced age keep you from travelling and enjoying life!