Condition Jetlag is one of the most common words associated with aviation. Most passengers experience it after trips of over 3 hours either East or West. The main cause of jetlag is the disruption of the body’s circulation rhythms or more commonly known as our 24 hour clock. Another contributory factor is the oxygen lack in the pressurized cabin.
First Report Wiley Post, the U.S. pilot who went round the world in eight days was the first to recognize the condition in 1931.
Symptoms Jetlag affects people in different ways and to different degrees. The common symptoms are extreme fatigue resulting in diminished mental and physical performance, insomnia, stomach upsets, irregular menstrual cycles, aches and pains, irritability, sleep disruption and disorientation.
Effects Mental decrements include 15% deterioration in logical reasoning and decreased performance levels in arm strength (8%), sprint times (10%), elbow flexor strength (13%) and lift and carry tasks (9%). Some 50% of passengers reported sleep difficulties and it take three days to recover to carry out simple calculations and up to five days for complex ones.
Prevention The best methods involve using synchronizers, such as sleep, daylight and eating patterns to reset the body clock. For example, eat little on board and on arrival synchronize with local mealtime. Stay up as long as possible and expose yourself to daylight. Psychological cues include setting your watch to destination time on departure and ignoring home time while you are away.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps to synchronize the body, but it has not been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can help your brain recover faster by also taking Alpha-GPC which is essentially just a choline source, the stuff that helps your brain communicate data between neurons faster. You can also go the super hero route of taking something like adrafinil, think ‘Limitless’, the pill.
Latest remedy Jetskins is a body-molded compression garment that covers the lower half of the body. Research has shown that It improves performance by reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and increasing muscle co-ordination. Jetskins also helps reduce dehydration, leg and foot swelling, and encourages blood flow. “Since I started wearing Skins for travel and post-game recovery, I feel fresher, stronger and recover faster,” said Steve Waugh, Australian Test Captain.
Alpha GPC video: