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Copeman Healthcare – Got Jet Lag?

Copeman Healthcare – Got Jet Lag?

Five helpful tips to reset your body clock
By Amra Dizdarevic, Family Health Nurse Practitioner, Copeman Healthcare Centre

After taking a flight across two or more time zones, you might find yourself craving an omelette in the middle of the night or ready for a good night’s sleep at 9 a.m. It’s called jet lag, and it’s caused by the temporary difference between the sleep and wake cycle generated by our internal body clock at home, and the environmental rhythms of our destination time zone. Our sleep/activity cycle becomes affected, leading to disruptions in our physical and mental functioning often leading to:

  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling or staying asleep) and sleep fragmentation
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Reduced performance, concentration and reasoning
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Generalized malaise or feelings of weakness

These symptoms are not necessarily present in every case, and people may vary in their susceptibility to them. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to get jet lag; and the further you are from home, the longer it takes to get over it. While jet lag affects all age groups, older adults may recover more slowly compared with younger individuals.

IMG_4464_Colleen and female clientExpect it to take several days to adjust to a new time zone. Readjustment and resynchronization occur at a rate of about one hour per day after eastward travel and 1.5 hours per day after westward travel. Pre-existing sleep deprivation, stress, poor sleep habits, and the flight conditions may predispose you to more severe jet lag.
Try the following five tips to help mitigate the effects:

  • When possible, choose daytime flights to minimize loss of sleep and fatigue.
  • Drink lots of water and avoid large fatty meals, caffeine and alcohol during the flight.
  • Resist the temptation to sleep during daytime hours for the first few days at destination, as this will decrease the ability to sleep at night and prolong the adjustment cycle. Exposure to bright, natural morning light can also help your body adjust to the new time zone.
  • Adjust your meal times to the new time zone.
  • Get some exercise, but not right before you are supposed to go to sleep.

While there is no evidence of the usefulness of homeopathic remedies or diet in treatment/prevention of jet lag, taking melatonin can help your body adjust to a new time zone. As a hormone that is naturally made by a gland in the brain, melatonin aligns sleep cycles and other physiological functions. The usual dose is two or three milligrams after dark each night, about half an hour before bedtime in the new time zone. It can be taken for up to four nights in a row; after that, it likely won’t be needed.

Check with your Copeman Healthcare team or Family Physician before taking melatonin to ensure it is safe for you. If you are not currently enrolled at Copeman Healthcare and would like to learn more about their comprehensive healthcare programs, please contact Tia Young at or visit Their Centres are conveniently located in downtown Vancouver and West Vancouver at Taylor Way & Marine Drive.

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