has rightly said: A jet lag is nature’s way of making you look like
your passport photograph. Dr Mukesh Batra advices you on
how to beat jet lag
there is half the fun, goes a popular cliche. While this may
hold true for a lazy driving trip through the English countryside,
or a flight to Dubai, it generally does not apply to a 24-hour flight
to Florida or New York. It can be tough enough to survive the rigours
of an economy class flight. When we finally arrive, it gets worse.
Its four in the morning, and youre tossing and turning
between crisp hotel sheets. Then a few hours later, just as youre
walking into the big meeting - important enough for you to cross
six time zones - youre finally ready to fall asleep, for the
next two weeks. We succumb to jet lag. After years of study and
continued suffering, jet lag like the common cold is still with
studies have revealed that 93-94 per cent flyers experience jet
lag in some form or the other. Its every travellers
nightmare. As people fly more and more, jet lag is becoming a kind
of an epidemic. Besides exhaustion and insomnia, symptoms of jet
lag include swollen limbs, loss of sleep, disorientation, headaches,
bowel irregularity and lightheadedness. Apart from these, jet lag
can impede your physical as well as mental performance even a few
days after you have flown.
lag occurs because as you fly from one part of the world to the
other, the changes in time zones confuse the bodys 24-hour
inner clock known as circadian rhythms. For example, assume that
you live in Mumbai and have flown to Sydney for an important business
meeting. Now note that the time difference between Mumbai and Sydney
is five and a half hours. So when it is 10:00 am in Sydney and you
are preparing for your meeting, your body says that it is only 4:30
am (as per Mumbai time), and you find it difficult to keep awake.
Then again, its bedtime for the Australians and you are wide
awake, while everyone else is sleeping. These situations can be
very frustrating especially for someone, who has very little time
and much to accomplish from the trip.
lag cannot be averted completely, but you can take preventive steps,
during and after the flight to alleviate its effects. Make sure
that you have all your affairs in order before you fly. Stress,
excitement or even a hangover can make flying a nightmare. These
are all allies of jet lag. Prior to your flight get a good nights
sleep because even though you intend to catch up on your sleep on
the flight, a talkative co-passenger, or even worse, a cramped seat
may thwart your plans. Carry earplugs, a warm shawl or even your
pillow; anything that will make you comfortable. Some people carry
meditation tapes while on flight to help them relax. All these will
help you get the much-needed rest. Keep your body fit and get plenty
of exercise in the days before departure. This will help you combat
ailments like cold and flu, which are common after a flight.
time zones, dehydration is a significant cause of jet lag. The air
inside an aircraft is usually dry and people living in humid conditions
often find this change unbearable. The dryness causes headaches,
drying up of skin, nasal and throat membranes. This is an ideal
situation for catching colds, coughs, sore throats, or the flu.
Drink plenty of water before and during the flight. Preferably carry
your own water bottle because some airlines carry only limited quantity
of water. Avoid beverages like tea and coffee and stay away from
alcoholic drinks and even juices. What your body needs is water.
Alcohol in your body is more potent when you are flying. One glass
of wine in-flight will have the effect of two glasses on ground.
Would you really like to have a hangover when you reach a foreign
beverages, meals are served at frequent intervals while flying.
Avoid overeating. Your cramped seating will be, as it is, putting
pressure on your stomach. An overfilled stomach will only lead to
a stomach ache. Avoid eating anything raw or cold like salads, cold
meat or fish. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) up
to 50 per cent of international travellers develop digestion and
stomach problems while on flight, so dietary care is important while
and first class travellers experience less jet lag than their economy
class counterparts. This is because a lot of airlines, to economise,
circulate fresh air only among the premium section of the airplane.
Lack of fresh air can make you tired and irritable, and even cause
is one of the worst aspects of long-haul flying. Lack of activity
and blood circulation causes a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis
(or DVT, as it is popularly known). Sitting in one position in a
cramped condition can cause blood clots, which can travel to the
heart or the brain causing a heart attack or a stroke, proving fatal.
To avert this possibility, stretch your limbs even while you are
sitting. Walk up and down the aisle as frequently as possible. Remove
your shoes and carry soft, cloth slippers or ask the airline for
a pair. Hard shoes will put pressure on your feet causing them to
swell or ache.
you arrive at your destination, adjust to the time as soon as you
can. Dont think about what time it is back home. Resist taking
naps and if you must take one, keep it short. Now that you have
landed, you can take your regular quota of coffee or tea to help
you stay awake till bedtime. Eat high fibre foods to avoid constipation
and keep away from fatty foods, which will make you sluggish.
is an oft-prescribed medicine for jet lag. But this is a complex
treatment, the side effects of which outnumber its benefits. Nox
Vomica 200 (five pills taken before and another five after the flight)
is a homeopathic medicine, which will help you overcome the effects
of jet lag, without any side effects.
lag is one of the joys of travel, right up there with motion sickness
and lost baggage. Thankfully, many of its unwanted effects can be
minimised with some careful planning and sensible behaviour. So
dont dread it, but instead, try to beat it!
author is chairman and managing director, Dr
Batras Positive Health Clinic, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)