Combating Jetlag when travelling to Africa
Any travel, especially if it involves travel at night, may be associated with sleep disruption and subsequent fatigue. However, flight across time zones results in different body rhythms that are not initially synchronised with the day-night cycles at the time zone of destination. This causes the combination of day-time sleepiness and night-time alertness, the major features of jetlag. Symptoms of jetlag are common with time zone changes of five hours or more. Problems of jetlag may also increase with age.
Symptoms can include fatigue, mood disturbance, Anorexia, Gastrointestinal symptoms. In general westward flight is better tolerated then eastward travel. As a rule of thumb, it takes one day for every hour time difference to recover.
Have 2 to 3 good night’s sleep before travelling Choose best flights for sleep – direct flights usually during ‘home’ daytime If you’re not able to sleep on flights have a nap the afternoon of the flight. Use a short-acting hypnotic e.g. Benzodiazepines.
During the flight
- Set your watch to the destination time.
- If possible sleep and eat according to this time.
- Try to sleep at the local night time.
- Restrict alcohol intake.
- Allow nap opportunities for 40 minutes during the day for the first few days.
- Expose yourself to sunlight and exercise.
- Consume caffeine drinks during the day but avoid them 4 – 6 hours before going to sleep.
- Use sleeping tablets if needed.