All those feelings you have... tired and grumpy, puffy, headachy... they're all part of a real physical reaction. Your biological clock is upset when you travel rapidly across many time zones. You're body produces certain hormones to tell it when you normally sleep, when you wake up and when you're hungry... now your watch and your brain are trying to tell it something different.... your body is lagging behind.
Crossing one or two time zones usually doesn't cause jet lag. There really isn't enough of a time change there to really disrupt your biological clock. And it's not linked just with the length of the flight.
Long north-south flights that don't cross time zones may leave you tired, but not jet lagged. Flight fatigue is caused by the dry cabin air and the fact that the cabins are pressurized to 8000 feet so that you get less oxygen when you breath.... That makes you tired and grumpy, but those long north-south flights won't disrupt your sleep pattern.
You know it if you've experienced it.... Jet lag is more than just flight fatigue. Besides feeling grumpy and irritable when you get off the plane, now that you've crossed all those time zones, you're supposed to eat and sleep on a whole different schedule.
You may find that your feet and face feel puffy... you have a headache. You may have digestive upsets.... and that can be either constipation or diarrhea. And you will definitely have problems with your sleeping patterns the first day or two or more depending on how susceptible you are.
If you went by a slower means of transportation, it would be easier.... a horse drawn wagon maybe? OK, that's not realistic, but if you went by ship, you would cross those time zones more slowly and your body could catch up gradually. Your body will catch up with that plane ride too... it just takes a few days.
We've heard it can take up to a day per time zone crossed to completely readjust your biological clock, but we think with a little effort you can be functioning well enough to have a great time after only a day or two... and even in those first couple of days, you can be out and about and having fun.
Everyone feels that jet lag to some degree, even professionals and seasoned travelers... don't let them tell you otherwise. You can't fight it completely, but learn how your body reacts and what works best for you to recover, and soon you'll be on the right time zone and having a great time.
Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it! Judy and Mark
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