Many of my patients are frequent business travelers. Travel presents its own set of health challenges, from the risk of prolonged immobility in small airline seats, to the risk of acquiring respiratory infections on a plane. One painful consequence of travel that we’ve all experienced is jet lag. Especially when crossing several time zones, jet lag can make the first day or two at your destination very unproductive.

In last Saturday’s Los Angeles Times business section, James Gilden has a very helpful article: Shedding Some Light — or Not — on Fighting Jet Lag. He discusses a recent study for British Airlines by Chris Idzikowski, a founder of the British Sleep Society. The study attempted to discover the most important factors that effect jet lag, and how to modify these factors to get the greatest relief.

What really works in influencing the body’s biological clock and consequently combating jet lag, he said, are six factors: exposure to light, sleep, exercise, eating, drinking and social interaction. It is in timing a traveler’s exposure to light that Idzikowski has found the most promise for combating jet lag.

One result of the study is the British Airways Jet Lag Advisor. Take a look at it. It’s very easy to use and gives advice about the hours that you should avoid light and seek light in the first two days of travel to minimize jet lag. Please try it during your next trip and let me know how well it goes.

Now I just need to figure out how to keep you from getting colds when you fly.