Airline Pilot Forums

Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.




View Full Version : combating jet lag


Tech Maven
03-30-2006, 01:30 PM
Crossing time zones

This confuses the body clock because it has to adjust to a new time and new patterns of light and activity. To make matters worse, not all internal body functions adjust at the same rate. So your sleep/wake cycle may adjust more quickly than your temperature. Your digestion may be on yet another schedule. Confusing the clock like this causes the mental and physical upset we call jet lag.

Go west

Though the body clock has difficulty adjusting to time zone travel, it prefers flying in an east to west direction. This is because although we live on a 24 hour day, the natural rhythm of our clock is programmed to operate on a day that is longer than 24 hours. So our internal clock can naturally extend our day but it finds it very difficult to reduce the hours in our day.

When flying west you are adding hours and going in the natural direction of your internal clock. For example, flying westward from London to New York involves extending your day by five hours, while the eastward flight from New York to London results in shrinking your day by five hours.

Managing jet lag

Because it can take the body clock anything from several days to several weeks to fully adjust to a new time zone, it may be less disruptive to keep yourself on your home time schedule if you are only going to be away from home for a short time (about 48 hours or less).

If your trip is going to be longer, you should start to adjust to your new time zone as soon as you board the plane.

How to keep your body clock on home time

You need to do a bit of advance planning, but these steps will help:

1. Calculate the time difference between your home time and the time at your destination
2. Consider when you normally would be asleep and awake on your home time compared to the times at the new destination
3. Make a note of the destination times that correspond with times when your body clock would be at maximum sleepiness at home (3-5am and on a lesser level 3-5pm)
4. Try to avoid important business meetings scheduled at these times of maximum sleepiness at home
5. Try not to be in the light at your destination if you would normally be in darkness at home. You can do this by staying indoors or wearing sunglasses when you go out
6. When planning meals try to keep your stomach on home time. So if it is dinner time at your destination, but breakfast on your home time, try to have something light, rather than a full heavy dinner that your stomach may not be ready to digest


from british airways


PLTwnab
10-14-2006, 10:06 PM
Thank you, this is very interesting.

CRJ-200
10-15-2006, 06:34 AM
Sure is, thanks.

Though the body clock has difficulty adjusting to time zone travel, it prefers flying in an east to west direction.

Had no idea. Does make a lot of sense though.


contrails
10-15-2006, 11:14 AM
About the east to west thing.

I read a NASA report a few years ago that involved putting test subjects in an artificially lit environment with no scheduled events or changes in light for several days or weeks. No clocks.

What ended up happening was the subjects would sleep for 8 hours and be awake for 16.5 hours until going to sleep again. This of course amounts to an extra day of being awake every 14 days and it also is why it's easy to stay up late at night but not so easy to make yourself go to sleep early.

JSchraub
10-15-2006, 06:31 PM
Very interesting stuff here guys. Tech keep up the cool finds man

KZ1000Shaft
10-18-2006, 05:44 AM
What ended up happening was the subjects would sleep for 8 hours and be awake for 16.5 hours until going to sleep again. This of course amounts to an extra day of being awake every 14 days and it also is why it's easy to stay up late at night but not so easy to make yourself go to sleep early.


Now if only airline management would listen to this...

dojetdriver
10-18-2006, 01:35 PM
Now if only airline management would listen to this...

Don't worry, they would find a way around it. "Well, studies show your body wants to stay awake for 16.5 hours, great! You will have no problem then pulling the FAA legal 16 hrs."

birdstrike
10-26-2006, 10:11 AM
Thanks, understanding jet lag is the first step in managing it. My body has been whipped by this phenomenon more times than I care to admit. Why does it always seem to chatch up with you on days off? :(

Skygirl
10-26-2006, 05:56 PM
Thanks, understanding jet lag is the first step in managing it. My body has been whipped by this phenomenon more times than I care to admit. Why does it always seem to chatch up with you on days off? :(

Because you're on auto-pilot when you're working and traveling, and then you switch it off on your days off and crash - At least that has been my experience. Flying in an eastern direction is definitely worse :( ...but Paris, Italia and the Greek Islands are worth it :)

SKYKN6
10-26-2006, 07:49 PM
Since this is a pilot health forum, I had to throw .02 in. Few of the recommendations by British Airways will work for international flight crews because of rolling schedules, eat when you can and continuing time zone changes. They may be ok for passengers in back snoozing away. Until you have started that descent into the typhoon at 6pm local Asia time with your body clock at 4am back home you cannot understand dealing with fatigue/ jet lag. (Hooray for coffee and adrenaline.)Sleep when tired and with luck you will be in a hotel room. Sleeping through the night the first night back home after a week of asia flying works well. THEN you start waking up at 2am the second or third night.....I've found that ambien works wonderfully the second night and helps snap the body clock back to home time. (Only once or twice per month tho) It IS FAA approved with a min of 24hrs before the next flight.