What is Jet lag?

Jet lag is the disturbance to sleep patterns produced by travelling across several times zones when flying East or West.

It is usually worse when you fly East (towards the Middle East, China and Japan or returning to the UK from a stay in the USA) as the body finds it harder to accept a shorter day (in effect requiring you to go to bed early and sleep) than a longer day (requiring you to stay up longer and then sleep).

Jet lag is associated with a feeling of tiredness, confusion and lethargy. The most common problem is an inability to sleep at night in the new time zone. Sufferers will find it difficult to fall to sleep at the required time and despite only a small amount of sleep sufferers will often wake up very early at what would have been the normal waking time in their normal time zone.

If you take medicines at the same time each day, such as the oral contraceptive pill or insulin, you should discuss this with your pharmacist to ensure you do not miss doses or take too much.

Jet Lag

What are the causes of jet lag?

Your body has a natural body clock that dictates the daily pattern of waking and sleep. This pattern is called the circadian rhythm and is set to your local time zone by the hours of light and dark you experience. This circadian rhythm affects when you feel awake and tired, but also when you feel hungry, your body temperature and blood pressure and even when you go to the toilet.

When you travel across time zones it takes a while for your body clock to adjust, and so it may be making you feel wide awake when it’s bedtime in the new time zone or very tired when you should be raring to go. This can be a serious problem on business trips but also can spoil the first few days of a holiday that has cost you a fortune!

Treatments for jet lag

Most people find that symptoms of jet lag will gradually reduce over 2-3 days and the symptoms are not a serious health problem but can be rather disruptive and very inconvenient. You can help your body adjust by adopting the correct times for eating and sleeping in the new time zone as soon as possible. This may mean really trying to stay up when you first arrive. Spending time outside may also help as natural light will influence your body clock to adapt more quickly. Avoiding dehydration is also important to reduce jet lag.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that can help to ease jet lag by “resetting” the body clock. Melatonin is naturally released by the body in the evening when it gets dark to let your body know it’s time to sleep, and production is reduced in response to light to help you wake up. It can be used to help jet lag by helping you to sleep at the appropriate time for the new time zone.

People with hidden disabilities to benefit from Blue Badges

Blue Badge scheme to be extended to hidden disabilities, including autism and mental health conditions.

  • Blue Badge scheme to be extended to people with ‘hidden’ disabilities
  • Biggest overhaul to the system in 40 years, offering accessible parking for people who find travel difficult
  • part of the government’s drive to build a society that works for all

People with hidden disabilities, including autism and mental health conditions will soon have access to Blue Badges, removing the barriers many face to travel.

The Blue Badge scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.

In the biggest overhaul to the scheme since the 1970s, this will now be extended to those with less visible conditions early next year.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said:

Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently.

The changes we have announced today will ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted.

The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:

  • cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
  • cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
  • have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)

The changes follow an 8-week consultation and are part of the government’s drive for greater parity between physical and mental health conditions.

Blue Badge

Although people with non-physical disabilities are not excluded from receiving a Blue Badge, the current rules are open to interpretation. The new criteria will give clear and consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton said:

It’s absolutely right that disabled people are able to go about their daily life without worrying about how they will get from one place to another.

We’re taking an important step forward in ensuring people with hidden disabilities get the support they need to live independently.

Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said:

Today’s Blue Badge announcement will make a massive difference to the lives of many of the 600,000 autistic people in England, and their families.

Just leaving the house is a challenge for many autistic people, involving detailed preparation – and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong. And some autistic people might not be aware of the dangers of the road or become overwhelmed by busy or loud environments. The possibility of not being able to find a parking space near where you’re going can mean you can’t contemplate leaving the house at all.

The National Autistic Society and our supporters have been highlighting problems with the current rules to the government for many years. We’re thrilled that they have listened to the concerns of autistic people and their families, taking into account their needs for certainty and safety. Now it’s important to make sure that these changes are implemented fully and quickly.

The consultation, which ran from 21 January 2018 to 8 March 2018, received more than 6,000 responses from across the country.

The Department for Transport will now work with stakeholders to develop new guidance to help them administer their Blue Badge schemes when these changes come into force.

The government recently set out its plans to improve accessibility across all modes of transport in the Inclusive Transport Strategy which launched on 25 July 2018. The strategy aims to make the UK’s transport network fully inclusive by 2030.