DESYNCHRONOSIS

DESYNCHRONOSIS

Desynchronosis is a psychological condition known by many names such as time zone change syndrome or jet lag. This usually occurs when people’s time zones suddenly shift or are abruptly changed. Desynchronosis results from the disturbance of one’s circadian rhythms, or commonly known as the body clock.

The disruption happens within our Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), which is located below our hypothalamus. There are two groups of neurons that become out of sync during desynchronosis. First, the group of neurons that are disturbed when experiencing  time zone change syndrome are those associated with deep sleep and the effects of physical fatigue. And second is the group of neurons that controls our dream state during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep takes much time to adjust to the new time zone.

The reason why our body clock does not work well is due to external environmental factors that cause changes to our internal time-keeping system, thus resulting in Desynchronosis. Also, hormone regulation can help get our body clock back on sync after adjusting to external environmental factors.  

It was then discovered and proven that a person has a higher chance of experiencing desynchronosis when traveling eastward than westward. Due to the less travel time, our bodies could recover because eastward reduces the time we have, whereas westward adds hours to our days.  

Desynchronosis also happens with the difference in seasons, in addition to traveling across numerous time zones. Being used to the day and night cycles from the place where we are from and where we are going to can cause our body clocks to get out of sync.  

This condition happens due to the rapid changes in time zones a person undergoes in a short period. One might experience feeling drowsy, tired, irritable, lazy, and slightly disoriented. These symptoms may vary on a person because it all depends on how fast or slow their body clocks to get back into sync. As such, older people usually experience this condition severely than the young, and they recover slower.

Our body clock inhibits the 24-hour cycles that our body processes daily, such as the biochemical, physiological, and behavioral. This lets us properly execute our daily activities like sleeping, waking, eating, and body temperature regulation. But once you have experienced desynchronosis, it’ll affect your daily patterns of sleeping, waking, and eating and working.

The World Health Organization discovered symptoms of desynchronosis that could worsen based on the person’s intake during or before the flight and their environment. Drinking alcohol or caffeine during or before the flight worsens the symptoms because it can lead to dehydration or the need to urinate, thus disturbing or lowering your sleep quality frequently. Also, after drinking alcohol, it leads to a hangover, which can worsen the effects of desynchronosis and travel fatigue.

It is best only to drink water during the flight and as much as possible, have a comfortable position to avoid desynchronosis.

SYMPTOMS

When suffering from desynchronosis, it is better to know its symptoms right away. Those symptoms include the following:

  • Trouble going to sleep or insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability, confusion, and has a hard time focusing
  • Mild depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances (e.g., diarrhea or constipation)
  • Anxious

The severity of these symptoms may vary depending on the number of time zones crossed, a person’s age, and state of health.

TREATMENT

Despite the fact that almost anyone can experience desynchronosis, there is no available treatment for this. But, there are some lifestyle adjustments that are tested and proven to help alleviate the symptoms caused by this condition.

The most significant change that you can make to your lifestyle is by being physically fit and healthy. It was found that people who took better care of themselves suffer less severe symptoms than those who are less fit. Also, it is essential to seek medical advice before engaging in a long trip or boarding in an airplane when you are suffering from medical conditions.

There are also other tips that you might consider trying to help prepare your body when you travel. Some of those tips are:

  • Change the time you get up in the morning or sleep at night to match the time zone you plan on traveling.
  • Match the time on your watch with the time zone of your destination.
  • Do some light exercise while you are on the plane (e.g., stretching, walking along the aisle)
  • Drink lots of water to avoid being dehydrated.
  • Have a light meal once you’ve arrived at your destination.
  • Get as much sunlight as possible when you arrive.
  • Try to adapt to your destination as soon as possible to help adjust your body clock.

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