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Jet Lag: How Are Flight Attendants Affected and what they do to minimize the effects ? - By Ahmed Haouaria

22 Nov 2019

Traveling round the world could be seen as so pleasant and fun and given this assumption, Cabin Crew job could only show romantic side, but the jobs is also exceptionally hard on the body function. One of the biggest challenges is the jet lag handling which is part of the deal.

When people cross just two different time zones, the human body responds to two factors: light and time change. From confusion to stomach nausea, flight attendant will, for each scheduled flight, deal with these sensations to properly accomplish their responsibilities on board with a main focus: PASSENGERS SAFETY.


“Jet Lag”? what are we speaking about?

Jet lag isn’t just a sleepy sensation after reaching a destination, but can be a physical reaction to flying and changing time zones.

Fatigue, insomnia, nausea, headache and concentration trouble are some of the consequences of Jet lag. It's caused when the body's circadian rhythm isasymmetrical with your destination's time, when different from your habitual one. The body is accustomed to waking and sleeping according to the rising and setting of the sun at home and gets disorganized when dawn, sunset, ,eating and sleeping swiftly occur at different times than usual. Fortunately, people have been dealing jet lag long enough to findsome ways to lessen it, even if it can't be completely avoided. 

Professionally speaking, when a pilot or flight attendant feel tired, they must push through the sensation to serve their passengers. Unfortunately, the human body still succumbs to jet lag even if the person continually flies for work purposes.


Why does Jet Lag occur?

To understand Jet Lag and how it occurs we need first to explain 2 major components related to the fact: biological clocks.

What exactly is the body clock?

Within each 24-hour cycle, the human body temperature, blood pressure, glucose and hormone levels go up and down. That’s run by the internal clock, which is related to the light taken in through our eyes. Our internal clock can run faster or slower depending on how long we are exposed to light and darkness, and when we are exposed to each.

Dr Stuart Peirsonfrom the University of Oxford to explains that ‘’the body clock, or circadian clock, is an internal clock that keeps track of time. Circadian comes from "circa-diem" meaning "around a day". If a human is kept in constant darkness the body will still work to around a 24-hour cycle. It is not just being driven by light and dark. It is an intracellular clock so if you look in individual cells they are all able to keep time as well. If you put cells in a dish they will show 24-hour changes in gene expression. Interesting !  No?

Humans are not affected the same way. Some could be affected more than others, and the main reason why it occurs is due to human specific biological clocks. The human body relies on light and time triggers to indicate active and sleep sections of the day.

A pilot or flight attendant crossing different countries, from Africa a to North America for example will be chasing the sunset when flying, effectively making the day seem longer than normal. This was my case 15 years ago when I was operating, at least once a month the Royal Air Maroc regular flight from Casablanca to Montreal or New York. This prolonged light triggers jet lag symptoms over time.

It’s also a fact that cabin pressure adds to the physical disorders. With less oxygen circulating the cabin compared to sea level, a pilot and flight attendant have reduced blood oxygen levels, making jet lag impact higher. 

Jet Lag treatments… Does this exist ?

Some surprising solutions have been tested by airlines passengers regarding jet lag cures, including a first-class seat ticket. Yes, passengers may be more comfortable in larger, first-class or business class seats than it is the case in Economic class seats, but is definitely not the answer.

Other travellers have tried to force themselves into a new circadian rhythm using sleeping pills. What they are trying to do is an attempt to fall asleep with the new destination time zone.

Some even believe that an alcoholic drink could be a magical remedy, but none of these actions really work.

Coping Strategies of Airlines Industry Pros

The only coping strategies that pilots and flight attendants have are exercise and hydration.

With a little exercise and a lot of bottled water, flight professionals must endure jet lag symptoms with the rest of the passengers. Although they may deal with the symptoms better than amateur travellers, there is no cure for jet lag.

7 easy ways methods to minimize the effects of Jeg Lag


Airlines crew would feel extremely tired mostly because they’re forced to sit for hours. The bellow are 7 easy ways to keep at a distance from jet lag effects. 

  1. Each hour, walk around the plane to allow blood movement through the extremities.
  2. Perform regular body movements with your hands and feet, to keep increase your blood circulation.
  3. Along with exercise, drink water continually during the flight.The dry cabin air literally dehydrates passengers. Hydrating before, during and after a flight helps decreasing jet lag effects. 
  4. Resist the coffee temptation, caffeinated soda and alcohol and stay far from them at the airport and when you reach your destination. Once again, drink plenty of water instead or other drinks that aren’t going to dehydrate you. Dehydration can worsen the effects of jet lag.
  5. If it’s daytime when you get to your destination, don’t stay inside. This is what I did when as a cabin crew I arrived to Montréal; Canada or New York; USA with Mince 5 hours: 03:00 PM when it is 08:00 PM in Casablanca.
  6. When possible, try to exercise when reaching the destination by taking a refreshing short walk.
  7. Limit naps in the days following your arrival. If you need it, taking a short nap can help you stay awake during the day. But napping for more than 30 minutes can keep you from falling asleep at night. Try to stay awake until your normal bedtime and to get up on time the next day.

There’s no miracle pill to avoid jet lag for anyone flying for an extended period – be it a passenger, flight attendant or pilot. 

Working a crew a member is not just a job. It is a chance to explore new and exciting places. These simple tips could help you enjoy every minute of both your flight and the time spent in your coming destination.

Enjoy your flight !



































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