Jet Lag Syndrome

The time difference between your point of departure and your destination may upset your biological clock, causing you to feel out of sorts for several days. Most travellers who cross more than 3 time zones suffer from jet lag. Its effects are more severe when flying from west to east since one has the impression that the days have become shorter.

Symptoms

Symptoms of jet lag include: sleep and digestive disturbances, headaches, fatigue, irritability, and decreased physical and mental performance.

Although sleeping pills may help alleviate sleep disturbances, they will not alter your internal clock. Exposure to sunlight seems to be the best way to improve jet lag. Putting on sunscreen and spending time in the sun, without wearing sunglasses, may significantly reduce the symptoms of jet lag. If you must take a sleeping pill, experts recommend a short-acting benzodiazepine.

Prevention

To diminish the effects of jet lag, try to get some sleep during the flight. Eat small meals and drink plenty of water or juice. Do not drink alcohol. On your arrival, take it easy and rest for the first 24 hours. Get as much sun as you can, as soon as possible. Do not nap during the day and you will sleep better at night.

There is no effective drug treatment for jet lag. If possible, start adjusting sleeping and waking times to your new time zone days before departure.

Melatonin is a natural health product that is used to help relieve insomnia associated with jet lag. Although melatonin may indeed be helpful, there is not enough evidence to prove its efficacy and, as a result, we cannot recommend it. Its short-term use however, does not pose a risk for most. Speak to your pharmacist.

When traveling, adjustments must be made to some medication schedules - insulin in particular. See your pharmacist for more information.

For more information:

Essential information for a safe trip

www.travel.gc.ca

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