Jun 23, 2022 at 9:34 PM
After a long tiring (air) journey you are finally at your destination and ready for a little relaxation. That’s when you feel it: jet lag. That fatigue, insomnia and headaches can get in the way of the holiday. What can you do about jet lag?
By: Naomi Defoer
“Jet lag is a temporary disruption of the biological clock,” explains Monique Vlak, neurologist-somnologist at the HMC sleep center. “That disruption is caused by a change in the daytime and nighttime hours as you move across multiple time zones. This is because your brain adapts faster than your body, such as the gut, muscles and liver. This keeps your brain and processes running smoothly.” your body is out of sync and you experience symptoms that you call jet lag.”
If you have jet lag, you can suffer from headaches, nausea, sweating, loss of appetite, difficulty falling and staying asleep, concentration problems and irritability. Although these are annoying complaints, jet lag is not immediately dangerous.
“The biological clock automatically adjusts to the time zone you are in,” says Vlak. “However, if the biological clock shifts more often due to, for example, day and night shifts, this may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
You can also suffer from jet lag mentally. For example, according to health care psychologist and sleep expert Arina de Vries, it can lead to mood swings, memory problems, attention and concentration problems and a foggy feeling in your head. “In people with a mental illness or who are sensitive to it, jet lag can even lead to a relapse or aggravation of complaints, such as depression and psychotic complaints,” explains the sleep expert.
Go to bed earlier with eye mask or earplugs
According to neurologist-somnologist Vlak, you can prevent jet lag by anticipating it in advance by adjusting your eating and sleeping pattern slightly to the time zone you are going to. This way you can go to bed earlier with an eye mask and earplugs in or go to bed and out of bed later. It also helps to avoid alcohol and to drink enough water just before and during travel.
If you do have jet lag, there are a number of things you can do. “Stay out in daylight as long as possible if you’re flying west,” Flat advises. “If you wake up at night, try to lie in the dark until morning and try to get as much sunlight as possible and get plenty of exercise.”
Certain parts of our brain remain active to ensure that we are safe in the new environment.
Arina de Vries, sleep expert
“When you fly to the East, you should avoid the sunlight on the first day in the morning by sleeping in or wearing sunglasses. Falling asleep will then still be difficult. So try to get up and go to bed earlier and earlier the following days. to go.”
It is not only the jet lag that causes sleeping problems. For example, De Vries knows that most people do not sleep well on their first night on holiday. “That probably comes from an evolutionary survival mechanism,” explains the sleep expert. “Certain parts of our brain remain active to ensure that we are safe in the new environment. We also often deviate from our routines and habits during the holidays.”
Melatonin makes you sleepy
If you are really sensitive to developing jet lag or if you suffer from it a lot, Vlak gives melatonin as an option: a hormone produced by the body that plays a role in the sleep-wake rhythm. It makes you sleepy as soon as it gets dark outside. “This is about 0.5 milligrams two to five days after arrival at bedtime (when traveling east), or upon awakening at night (traveling westward).”
While jet lag is linked to travel, some people have chronic jet lag. “Actually, you call this a biological clock disorder,” explains the neurologist-somnologist. “As a result, their biological clocks are chronically out of sync with the time zone they live in, so they always feel jet lagged.”
“This is partly due to the fact that they are not synchronized, but also because this means that they sleep less well and for a long time. Sleep deprivation also plays a major role. In the sleep center this can be treated well by adjusting the clock and by adjusting behavior and light therapy. .”
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