Any travel, especially if it involves travel at night, may be associated with sleep disruption and subsequent fatigue. However, flight across time zones results in different body rhythms that are not initially synchronised with the day-night cycles at the time zone of destination. This causes the combination of day-time sleepiness and night-time alertness, the major features of jet lag.
Symptoms of jet lag are common with time zone changes of 5 hours or more. Problems of jet lag may also increase with age. Symptoms can include Fatigue, Mood disturbance, Anorexia, Gastrointestinal symptoms. In general westward flight is better tolerated then eastward travel. As a rule of thumb its takes one day for every hour time difference to recover.
Combating Jet Lag
Have 2 to 3 good nights sleep before travelling
Choose best flights for sleep – direct flights usually during ‘Home’ daytime If you’re not able to sleep on flights have a nap the afternoon of the flight. Use a short acting hypnotic e.g. Benzodiazepines.
During the Flight
Set your watch to the destination time. If possible sleep and eat according to this time.
- Try to sleep at local night time.
- Restrict alcohol intake.
- Allow nap opportunities for 40 minutes during the day for the first few days.
- Expose yourself to sunlight and exercise.
- Consume caffeine drinks during the day but avoid them 4 to 6 hours prior to sleep.
- Use sleeping tablets if required.