Last week, we talked about air travel.

This week, as promised, the topic is that infamous jet lag and what you can do about it.

Jet lag is a group of symptoms including disturbed sleep, increased fatigue, loss of concentration and increased irritability.

Jet lag results from crossing time zones, and the more zones you cross, the greater chance of getting it.

Simply stated, we are subject to bodily rhythms and environmental rhythms, and when they get mixed up, jet lag is the result.

It may take several days to get them back into sync.

Most experienced fliers have developed “fool proof” ways to avoid or treat jet lag.

Some may work, but they may or may not be good for you.

If you have flown before across many time zones and don’t get these symptoms, you probably won’t get them in the future.

And, if you are an experienced traveler and you suffer from jet lag and have a “home remedy” for avoiding jet lag, please share it with all of us.

I can tell you this: it really has everything to do with light.

If you are traveling westward on your flight, when you reach your destination, stay awake and only go to sleep when it gets dark.

If you are traveling eastward, stay awake but avoid bright light in the morning and try to be outdoors as much as possible in the afternoon.

There is a medication called Melatonin, which is available without a prescription and claims to help augment our own body’s melatonin and, thereby, gain faster relief from jet lag, but there is no compelling evidence that it works.

And, like all drugs, there are side effects.

Try to avoid this, and if you really suffer severely from jet lag, consult with your health care provider for further advice.

So much for air travel.

Once again, I am out of room.

We will continue some more travel tips in the future.

Until then, again, Bon Voyage.

Dr. Michael M. Warren is Ashbel Smith professor of surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch Division of Urology. Write him at

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