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Jet Lag Introduction

The body has a 24 hour sleep and wake cycle which is partly regulated by light and dark. If you travel quickly across time zones, your body gets confused about when to sleep and when to wake up.

The symptoms which result from this confusion are together called ‘time zone change syndrome’ or jet lag.

The symptoms of jet lag which relate to sleep can include difficulty sleeping, excessive sleepiness and daytime drowsiness. There may be other symptoms such as altered appetite or gastrointesinal function.

It takes about one day per hour time difference to recover from the sleep related symptoms of jet lag. It has been noticed that symptoms last longer if you fly east.

The amount of sleep deprivation a person suffers while travelling will affect the severity of the symptoms of jet lag as well as the time it takes for the symptoms to improve.

The best way to combat jet lag is to try and get enough sleep while travelling, eat small, healthy meals regularly and make sure you make time to relax and recover from your travels. The sooner you settle into regular patterns of eating and sleeping in a new place the better.

Medications which help to reset the body clock (like melatonin) can be used to help people who need to fly frequently combat the effects of jet lag.

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