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Overcome A Jet Lag
A good holiday mood can be spoilt due to a jet lag. Find out ways to deal with it.
Every time he boards a plane for one of his frequent international business trips, Guri Stark plays a trick on himself.

He sets his watch to the current time in his destination city, skipping time zones with a few spins of the dial.

"I start thinking and behaving as if I'm already there," said Stark, vice president of marketing for the Synopsys Solutions Group of Mountain View, California. "It gives me the entire flight to adjust to the timing situation."

For Stark, who travels about 2,00,000 miles a year to such destinations as India, China, Japan and Germany, it's a simple solution to a perplexing problem: how to beat the effects of jet lag.

Anyone who has ever felt lethargic disoriented or exhausted stepping off a plane knows that jet lag can spoil a vacation or disrupt a business trip.

It often can take several days to get your body in sync. By the time it does, your vacation could be half over.

But experienced travelers, especially those whose jobs require frequent flying across eight or more time zones, say there are ways to over come jet lag. Remedies range from staying hydrated on flights to taking short-term sleeping pills such as Ambien or Sonata.

Dave Miller, senior manager of global corporate affairs for Applied Materials in Santa Clara, California, said he stays awake the night before a long flight, sleeps on the plane (yes, in a coach seat), drinks plenty of water and wears noise-canceling headphones.

"The key is that the flight doesn't beat you to death," he said. "When I get to my destination, it's also important to get outside, get fresh air, try and go for a walk. I sort of buy into the theory that if you can get into the light, it helps you adjust."

All those practices are endorsed by Dr. Clete Kushida, director of Stanford University's Center for Human Sleep Research, who said travellers should adjust to their new time zone as quickly as possible-and shine a little light on themselves.

"Within five minutes of waking up, they should expose themselves to 30 minutes of bright light," he said. "The best thing is natural light, but they can also stay in an area of the hotel room where they can get bright sunlight." Doing so, he said, will convince the brain it's time to be awake.

Conversely, avoiding light in the evening makes it easier to fall asleep.
Or you can follow the lead of Howard Taub, vice president and associate or HP Labs in Palo Alto, California, who avoids flights that arrive in the morning. He prefers getting to his destination in the evening, when he can enjoy a light dinner and fall asleep at a normal hour.

That means he, unlike other travelers, must stay awake on flights. Taub also makes sure to freeze a bottle of water the night before he travels so that he has cool refreshment throughout the flight. And he requests an aisle seat so that he can get up and stretch during long flights.

Many fliers prefer a little help coping with jet lag. In a poll of 5,000 travelers last year by Leading Hotels of the World, 21 per cent of those who said they use a jet-lag remedy preferred melatonin, which the brain naturally secretes at night to help sleep. It's taken in herbal-supplement form, and although a few limited studies have been positive, Kushida said it's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and should be taken only after consulting your doctor.

Other popular remedies are Benadryl (diphenhydramine, usually taken for allergies) or sleep medications such as Ambien and Sonata, which must be prescribed by a doctor but allow you to sleep from four to six hours. There can be drawbacks, though.

"The reason they might not be that good to take," Kushida said, "is that on a plane, you don't want to be in a situation where you're completely out. Sometimes there can be situations where you fall asleep and can't get up or be awakened." Two considerations: Passengers who are unable to wake up can't follow instructions from flight attendants in emergencies. Also, there is the possibility of deep-vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition that can develop when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to a vein. The condition can result from long periods of sitting.

Over-the-counter pills such as No Jet Lag, which contains homeopathic ingredients such as camomile and club moss, are said to have a relaxing effect and can induce sleep.

"It treats jet lag as you get it," said Andrew Criglington, a New Zealand researcher who developed the formula. "If you could suddenly stop a flight halfway and get on the ground, you wouldn't have jet lag."

Some researchers also believe jet lag can be combated through diet. Dave Baurac of Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, developed software that helps travelers calculate a diet of moderate feasting and fasting to help them adjust to changes in time zones.

But the best solutions might be the simplest: Start adjusting to your new time zone as soon as your plane departs, drink lots of water, walk and stretch during flights, and expose yourself to sunlight soon after waking up.
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Posted on : 29/11/2005
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