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Ten things I learned…  about Jetlag

Just finished a 60 page power point presentation on „transmeridian dyschronism“ aka „Jetlag“ for a corporate client. 

Jetlag is medically referred to as desynchronosis or circadian dysrhythmia, a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body’s circadian rhythm resulting from rapid long-distance trans-meridian (east–west or west–east) travel on high-speed aircraft.

Along the way gathering information to supplement my practical approach of managing Jetlag and adjusting to a timezone as fast as possible I learned ten things about Jetlag:

1. Jetlag is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

2. During sleep there is the highest secretion of stomach acid.

3. Only humans and mammals can experience Jetlag as they have a Nucleus suprachiasmaticus (NSC) which is the circadian-oscillator and governs the circadian rhythm.

4. Getting going on monday morning is though for many due to a „phase-advance“ of their circadian rhythm which not only adjusts to the later sleep/wake cycle (as in Jetlag) but also to the times of meals eaten. So later meals which most have on weekends can lead to a disruption in the circadian rhythm. Take home point: Next to consistent bed times keep your meal times consistent to avoid a harsh monday morning.

5. Flying west the resynchronization into the new timezone takes about 1,3h/day. Flying east is almost 50% greater at only 0,9h/day of adjustment.

6. There is also research on personality types and jet lag with introverts having a much lower resynchronization rate than extroverts.

7. Research on athletic performance and direction of transmeridian travel shows that going east leads to greater decrease in performance than going west.

8. Since the early 1980s so called „chronobiotics“ – substances that increase the bodies ability to adjust to a timezone – have been researched. With melatonin being by far the most researched one.

9. There are multiple studies done on using carbohydrate-rich-meals and protein-rich-meals regulate dopamine and serotonin for faster synchronization of the circadian rhythm to a time zone. So, still, no carbs for breakfast.

10. The greatest decrease in cognitive and physical performance is on the third day after arriving in the new timezone.

11. Lufthansa extensively researched how to adjust the planning of the flights and shifts of pilots and flight attendants on transmeridian flights to maximize their performance and wellbeing.

12. The term „Jetlag“ is used because before the arrival of passenger jet aircraft, it was uncommon to travel far and fast enough to cause jet lag. Travel by propeller-driven aircraft, by ship or by train was slower and of more limited distance than jet flights, and thus did not contribute widely to the problem.

All the best managing Jetlag!

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