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Jet lag

Jet Lag

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Jet lag can be the bane of many travelers’’ lives, playing all sorts of havoc with people’s sleep patterns.

The term jet lag first appeared in 1966, and refers to when your brain thinks it’s in a different time zone due to air travel. Jet lag often leads disturbed sleep, tiredness during the day and even constipation or headaches. It is most common if you travel west-to-east although it can occur simply by travelling long distances.

However, new research suggests that beating jet lag could be as simple as changing how you eat for a few days, taking some herbal pills or picking the right plane.

Eating different foods can trigger your body clock

Japanese researchers at Yamaguchi University have found that insulin – the hormone that is activated by eating – is much more connected to our body clocks then we previously thought.

They believe that by raising your insulin causes your body clock in your liver to act slower, which in turn makes slows your brain’s clock as well. So, they suggest that if you want to sleep once you reach your destination you eat carbohydrate-rich food such as pasta to trigger the release of insulin. However, if you wish to stay awake you should eat proteins or fats, which trigger significantly lower insulin release.

Change your sleeping pattern before you go away

James Waterhouse, a professor of biological rhythms at Liverpool John Moores University, suggests that you change your sleeping habits just before you go on holiday to combat jet lag. He suggests ‘If you’re travelling east, going to bed and getting up progressively earlier for two or three days before the flight can help. If you’re going west, delaying bedtime/wake-up times can help.’

Fasting resets your body clock completely

Jet LagThe most important hormones that play a part in jet lag are those activated by light and those triggered by food. If you fast for 12 – 16 hours before your arrival at your destination your body clock will be reset to zero according to a 2008 Harvard Study.

Once you arrive, and if it’s before 10am, eat as soon as you can so your body clock adapts quickly. If it’s after noon have a carb-based meal at around 4pm and then fast again until breakfast the next day.

Pine bark pills

Italian researchers have found that jet lag is aggravated by flying itself as oedama – the slight swelling of the brain – is caused leading to headaches and fatigue. Brain scans have suggested that pine bark pills counteract this problem by improving circulation in the brain and can reduce jet lag symptoms from 39 hours to 18. Dr Gianni Belcaro, a cardiovascular researcher at the G. D’Annunzio University in Italy, suggests that you ‘Try 50mg of Pycnogenol three times daily for seven days, starting two days before the flight,’

Pick the right plane

There are newer models of planes such as the Boeing Dreamliner and A380 which are designed to combat jet lag. Their cabins are pressurised at a lower level, which increases the oxygen in the air, therefore reducing fatigue and headaches.

Structure site seeing accordingly

Pharmacologist Dr Andrew Herxheimer from Oxford’s UK Cochrane Centre suggests that you should visit museums in the morning if you have travelled west, and parks in the afternoon. Meanwhile, if you’ve travelled east do the complete opposite.

‘Exposure to light is the most important cue for synchronising circadian rhythms (the 24-hour cycle that controls when we eat, sleep and perform at our peak),’ he says.

‘After a westward flight, avoid bright light in the morning and seek out light in the evening. Eastward travellers should seek out light in the morning.’

Anchor sleeping

If you’ve arrived to your destination late in the day and you’re worried about not sleeping well the following night you can always try ‘anchor sleeping’. Getting just four hours sleep on the night you arrive is much more preferable to trying to stay awake and you should be able to sleep fine the next night.

Jet lag can be the bane of many travelers’’ lives, playing all sorts of havoc with people’s sleep patterns.





About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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