Author: David LeAche
Jet lag is a very real problem for some.
I have always had a problem with airline travel when it comes to sleeping.
I have never been able to sleep on a plane and think that taking sleep medication for a flight could be very dangerous, especially if I am called upon in an emergency and I am too groggy to respond. So long flights mean little more than short naps at best and this lack of sleep becomes a major problem once I arrive. Jet lag causes me all sorts of problems.
Traveling from the west coast of the American continent to Europe, for example, puts me eight to ten hours in the air
and across at least seven time change boundaries. Combine this with the fact that flights eastwards to Europe invariably leave late in the day and travel over night, which leave long daylight hours to fill on arrival, and you have my jet lag sleep deprivation fully summed up!
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that a good solid eight hours of sleep is optimal for adults, with children requiring a few hours more. Less than this amount over a long period of time can lead to immune deficiency, an increase in nervous and physical disorders and a lessened ability to manage small motor skill activities: besides feeling dizzy, nauseous and down right awful.
I've been there, but my family on the other side of the world looks forward to my visits. I have to deal with the problem!
There are things that can be done to lessen the impact, which will affect each traveler differently. The basic point is that your natural sleeping rhythm will be out of synch with your body (…your circadian rhythm) and you need to find a balance.
• For shorter trips try and stay on your "home" sleep times. This could be adjusted by either sleeping a little earlier or later than usual (depending on whether you are traveling east or west) a few days before you actual leave on your journey.
• Pack a kit of items for your trip to help the short naps get longer and reduce the stress of the long flight itself. I take a blow-up neck support, something to cover my eyes and my best purchase ever, noise reducing headphones. These can be used to listen to the movie, or your own music, but best of all they cut out the loud drumming noises of the engines. It's sort of reversed "white noise", for all these types of headphones have a battery unit that creates a block to the outside noise. Reducing this heavy drumming sound of the engines on a ten hour flight is worth every penny you pay for these headphones.
• Drink water not alcohol, fruit juice not coffee. Anything that gets you dehydrated will affect your body and your sleep habits. I also take a bottle of water and drink it all while waiting for my bags and suitcases to come down the carousel. Re-hydration is very important in normalizing your body for sleep.
• If you plan on sleeping when you arrive only take a short nap and keep away from the sun because the sunlight will trigger your body into a waking state. Wear sun-glasses from the airport if you plan to take a nap early on. Don't nap very long because the sooner you get into the new routine the better. This usually takes at least 48 hours: for me it takes over seven days!
• For me, a morning walk in my new location plus an early night gets me started, but if I am going to take sleeping pills of some sort it is these first two or three days of sleep in the "new" time zone that would choose. This works as long as you get up in the morning and get some exercise so your body begins to respond to the new time zone following the jet lag period.
Lack of sleep because of so called Jet Lag has a real and lengthy effect on me so any preparations I can make to ease the transition pays in dividends. When traveling long distances, leave time at either end of the trip for these changes to take effect. Leave the important meeting for a few days after you arrive, and plan on a few days of rest when you return.
No, there are no "secret" remedies, I've tried them all. Plan ahead, get some napping in and leave time to recover.
Dave is the author of http://www.sleep-help-4u.com where you can get much more information and help on all sorts of sleep problems and disorders. Share your needs and remedies and claim a free sleep help online book at http://www.sleep-help-4u.com/sleep-remedy.html