Living and working overseas


Jet lag


Jet lag is a condition that can affect a great many people who undertake flights of any reasonable duration. In it's most common form jet lag can cause prolonged drowsiness, lethargy, poor sleeping, and irritability for some time after the actual flight that caused it. Jet lag is normally associated with long-haul flights but not every person who takes a long-haul flight will notice the effects of jet lag - indeed the symptoms will vary from person to person, and from flight to flight. Most people who are regular travellers know all to well the symptoms and causes of jet lag. Understanding what causes jet lag goes a long way to reducing the chances you'll end up suffering from it on your next journey.




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People are creatures of habit, and we all have our own internal body clock that regulates many of our bodily functions. We’re also creatures of routine, and in normal life we adhere astonishingly rigidly to fixed patterns of behaviour. All this is good news for us when life carries on as usual, but when we uproot ourselves and fly half-way across the globe, passing through numerous time zones along the way, we do ourselves no favours what-so-ever. Imagine if at 10pm at night you were suddenly presented with the fact that it was now 10am in the morning and you had to suddenly cope with a brand new day ahead of you without sleep. It would be hard to do under the best of conditions without factoring the stress and anxiety that normally accompanies long-distance travel. This is essentially the reason for jet lag - the body passes through time zones faster than it can adjust. With modern jets able to get to the other side of the planet in the space of just 24hrs, even the longest flights offer you precious little time for your body clock to adjust and to reset itself.

Many people shrug of the concept of jet lag saying they will sleep comfortably on the plane. Perhaps this is true for some people, but most people on long-haul flights manage to sleep only fitfully at best, and any sleep they get is hardly a substitute for a decent night in their own bed. Staying up the night beforehand to make sure that you are literally exhausted for the long flight will not help your chances of avoiding jet lag - in fact it will probably compound the problem and make the symptoms worse. Try to make sure you sleep as well as you possibly can the night before and will offset some of the effects of a poor sleep on the plane. Of course this is often easier said than done, particularly as many people are often anxious before flying. Indeed, factors such as anxiety, nervousness, stress, illness or even hangovers can, and do, play a role in the degree of jet lag you can suffer from.




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