People’s biological clocks are usually synchronized with the time zone where they live. When moving quickly across several zones, that synchronization disappears temporarily. This happens only while travelling west or east. North or south journeys have no impact on synchronization because the time zone doesn’t change.
The severity of jet lag complaints generally correlates with the number of time zones crossed and the direction of the travel. Eastbound is generally more troublesome than westbound because the compression of the day-night cycle means a loss of calendar time for recovery. The opposite is true for westbound travel: More time for recovery is available.
These symptoms are typical:
- digestive system malfunctions
- increased urination at night
Conditions on flights can compound the problems through increased exposure to dehydration, infection, and other adverse conditions.
Synchronizing a biological clock to a destination time zone generally requires a day for every 1-2 time zones crossed. One can try to prevent or mitigate jet lag by starting the adaptation process a few days before departure or forcing a quicker alignment after arrival. Most do the latter by exposing themselves to bright outdoor light, a powerful tool for resetting an internal clock; and by adhering to sleep hygiene rules. Some advocate using melatonin or other sleep aids for a few days until the symptoms fade away.
How can you improve your sleep?
Use Sleeprate for a few days to identify sleep-wake patterns and to detect a biological clock that is slow, fast or simply abnormal. If an out-of-sync clock is found, Sleeprate recommends ways of dealing with it. It also offers implementation assistance.