Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Is Jetlag?

The Jetlag...
Don't just re-set your watch when you travel - make the most of your trip by re-setting your body clock as well..

Jetlag is actually caused by disruption of your 'body clock', a small cluster of brain cells that controls the timing of biological functions (circadian rhythms), including when you eat and sleep. The body clock is designed for a regular rhythm of daylight and darkness, so it's thrown out of sync when it experiences daylight and darkness at the 'wrong' times in a new time zone. The symptoms of jetlag often persist for days as the internal body clock slowly adjusts to the new time zone.

By following a carefully timed program of light and dark at the times your body clock is most responsive, you can quickly reset it to the new time zone. Instead of taking a week or more to adjust to an intercontinental journey, you can become fully adapted to the new time zone in just one or two days.

A successful time zone shift depends on knowing the exact times to seek and avoid bright light. Exposure to light at the wrong time can actually make jetlag worse. The proper schedule for light exposure depends a great deal on specific travel plans. Taking a night flight to Tokyo , for instance, creates very different demands than a day flight to Los Angeles . Personal variables are important too; if you're a 'night owl' you'll typically need a different schedule to a 'lark'.

Step 1: How many time zones will you cross?
If you are not sure how many timezones you are crossing you can:
1. Phone a friend at your destination and check the difference between the times at their location and yours.
2. Your computer might have a utility that shows timezones world-wide, for instance double-click on Windows clock.

If you are travelling across more than 12 time zones (in other words you are going the long way round), then subtract the number from 24 e.g. 14 time zones is equivalent to 10.

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