Add A "More Detailed Understanding" Is Needed
The older you get, the worse the effects from frequent
long-haul flights have on your body. That's the summation of a
report published Thursday in a British medical journal... adding
younger fliers can't escape from the detrimental effects crossing
several time zones can have on their bodies, either.
The Lancet reports flight crews who often take long journeys
don't 'get used to' the effects of jet lag -- such as poor sleep,
irritability, stomach problems and decreased mental acuity -- as
was popularly believed. No matter how often they fly long-haul
routes, crews and passengers alike face a wide range of medical
difficulties, ranging from a decrease in athletic performance to
short-term psychiatric impairments.
Women travelers may also experience distruptions in their
menstrual cycle, which can lead to other health issues down the
Older frequent-fliers experience the problems to a greater
degree, but all are affected, according to Jim Waterhouse, who
authored the report along with two associates from the Research
Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores
University. And the more time zones are crossed, the worse the
"If the journey crosses fewer than about three time zones, then
jet lag is unlikely to be a major difficulty for most people," the
authors write, according to Reuters Health.
The report also states the effects are greater on eastbound
flights than flights to the west -- in other words, it's healthier
to jump ahead than fall back.
There is no cure for jet lag, but there are measures travelers
can take to try to lessen its effects. Long-haul fliers should seek
or avoid sunlight at their destination -- depending on whether
they're heading west or east -- to sync their internal clocks
sooner. Exercising and/or drinking caffeinated beverages may also
help, the report adds.
The researchers state a "more detailed understanding of the
molecular changes associated with time zone changes" is needed,
"...with a view to developing drugs to promote clock adjustment and
further assessments of new sleep-promoting and alertness-promoting