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Dealing with Jet Lag: Strategies for Male Flight Attendants

Jet lag is an unavoidable part of the job for flight attendants. The rapid crossing of time zones can wreak havoc on your sleep-wake cycle, leaving you fatigued during flights and awake at odd hours on your days off. While jet lag impacts everyone who travels frequently by air, research suggests there may be gender differences in how jet lag is experienced. Women tend to report more issues with fatigue and gastrointestinal upset from jet lag, while men are more prone to cognitive impairments like trouble concentrating (1).


As a male flight attendant, you can take steps before, during, and after flights to reduce the effects of jet lag. Here are some tips:


Before Your Flight

- Get good sleep in the few days leading up to an early morning or redeye flight. Being well-rested beforehand will help your body cope with disruptions.

- Avoid heavy meals right before flights. Eat light, easy-to-digest foods.

- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration exacerbates jet lag symptoms.

- Set your watch to the destination time zone as soon as you get on the plane. Mentally start adjusting to the new time.


During Long Flights

- Drink water consistently throughout the flight to stay hydrated at high altitudes.

- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you and disrupt sleep.

- Get up and walk around the cabin every few hours to stretch your legs and get blood circulating.

- Try to sleep if it’s nighttime at your destination. Use earplugs and eye masks if needed.


Upon Arrival

- Exposure to sunlight helps reset your body clock, so go outside during daylight if possible.

- Adjust bedtime and waking time to match the new time zone. Resist napping during the day.

- Exercise lightly to boost energy and improve sleep quality.

- Eat meals at appropriate times in the new time zone. Stick to easily digestible foods for the first day or two.

- Consider taking melatonin before bedtime in the new time zone to ease the transition (2).


Days Off

- Catch up on sleep after long haul flights, but don’t overdo it. Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight exposure right after waking up.

- Try to keep wake/sleep times consistent with the local time zone on days off.

- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay hydrated. Avoid greasy comfort foods that can upset your stomach.

- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, which can worsen jet lag's effects.


By following these recommendations, male flight attendants can minimize the disruptive effects of jet lag. Be patient with yourself as your body adjusts, and remember that symptoms should pass within a few days. Consistent healthy habits are key for dealing with a job that requires rapid travel across various time zones. Speak to your doctor if jet lag symptoms persist or significantly impact your well-being. With some time and diligence, jet lag can be managed successfully.


References:

1. Herxheimer A. Jet lag. BMJ Clin Evid. 2014;2014:2307.

2. Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(2):CD001520.


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