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Jet Lag

Jet lag is a short-term condition that may affect some people who travel across multiple time zones in a short space of time. There is no cure for jet lag but there are treatments that can help you adjust more quickly if you suffer from this.


Jet lag is the general feeling of tiredness, fatigue and disorientation after long aircraft journeys. Anyone can get jet lag, particularly older people.

Jet lag occurs when your normal sleep pattern is disrupted by a long flight.Your internal clock(circadian rhythm) gets out of sync when you travel to different time zones.

What is Jet Lag?

Jet Lag is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder after traveling more than two time zones by plane. Circadian rhythms are natural patterns set by your brain in the body that tell your body when to wake up and when to sleep.

Circadian rhythms are affected by internal and external body processes such as temperature, hormones, and digestion. For example in daylight, light enters your eyes, and a message is sent to the brain to stop the production of the melatonin hormone. Melatonin hormone helps you sleep.

When can you be diagnosed with jet lag disorder?

You can be diagnosed with jet jag disorder if:

  • You experience malaise after 2 days of traveling 
  • You experience insomnia after traveling across 2 time zones 
  • Your sleep disturbance is not treated by the use of any medication or is not as a result of a neurologic disorder, a mental disorder of any sleep known sleep disorder.


Entering a new time zone means your usual day-night routine is out of sync. This confuses your ‘body clock’, causing jet lag.

The direction of which you travel influences the severity of your symptoms. Travelling east means you lose hours so your day will be shorter and travelling west means you gain hours so your days will be longer. Travelling east is generally harder as it is harder to sleep at an earlier time than what you are used to.

Causes of Jet lag.

The main cause of jet jag is a mismatch between the Circadian rhythms and time zones. Some of the things that cause the mismatch include:

  • Fast air travels. Air cabin pressure and atmosphere cause jet lag symptoms.
  • Working with shifts. Working in shifts puts your Circadian rhythm(internal clock) out of sync.
  • Influence of sunlight. The amount of light affects the quality of sleep that we get.


Prevention and treatment for Jet Lag

Prescription medicines and practicing simple life techniques can help you reduce the effects of Jet Lag. Jet Lag treatments and healthy techniques will assist Circadian rhythms adjust to different time zones.

  • Melatonin supplements

Melatonin supplements contain a natural hormone known as melatonin that helps the body adjust to its natural sleep pattern. Melatonin supplements will help you adjust to new time zones in your travels and sleep comfortably at night.

The supplement is available in various strengths make sure to consult your healthcare provider to get the Jet Lag treatment. You should take melatonin 30 minutes before you sleep or as recommended by your healthcare provider.

  • Get quality sleep

Get plenty of sleep before your traveling day by going to bed earlier than the normal days.

  • Adapt to your new time zone schedule

Grandner advices you to adjust your watch to the current time zone to be able to plan when and what to do at specific time frames. For example, you can plan when to eat, sleep, or work depending on your area of destination.

  • Jet Lag recovery calculator

You feed the Jet Lag recovery calculator with the flight details and it makes a plan for you to follow in different time zones that you cross.

The jet lag recovery calculator tells the algorithms about how many hours ahead or behind your body clock is, the specific hours your body clock can move daily, and your sleepiest time of the day.

  • Follow a specific diet

Prioritize foods that your body can easily digest. Easily digestible foods reduce digestive symptoms of jet lag.

  • Stay hydrated

Long flights can cause dehydration, always drink enough water before, during, and after the flight. Staying hydrated reduces symptoms of jet lag such as lack of enough sleep and discomfort.

Avoid taking too much caffeine and alcohol as they can cause dehydration. To ensure water safety, always fill your water bottle with water before leaving for your trip.

  • Get some sun

Getting some sun every day enables you to stay alert and active. Circadian rhythms recognize it is time to be awake, especially during the day.

Side effects of Jet Lag treatment

Melatonin has opposite side effects as bright light. Some of the side effects of melatonin side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea 
  • Daytime sleepiness


Symptoms depend on how many time zones you have crossed but common symptoms include:

  • Light headed
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Feeling confused and having problems concentrating

Other body functions may also be affected such as, your sleep habits, appetite and digestion.

Signs and symptoms of Jet Lag.

According to Dr.Grandner, many systems in the body are connected to Circadian rhythms therefore Jet Lag affects most of the body systems. Jet Lag symptoms and signs  include:

  • Headaches 
  • Poor moods 
  • Cognitive impairment 
  • Gut discomfort
  • Insomnia 
  • Feeling exhausted 
  • Forgetfulness
  • Constipation, indigestion, and diarrhoea
  • Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  • Irritability and anxiety 
  • Change in appetite
  • Sweating 
  • Difficulty concentrating 


  • How can I reduce the effects of jet lag?

    • Avoid napping on arrival
    • Avoid alcohol and caffeine on the flight
    • Alter the time you go to sleep to match that of your destination a few days before travelling
    • Drink water, briefly snooze and stretch your legs on the flight
    • Establish a new routine - immediately adopt the new time zones meal and sleep times
    • Stay outside in the natural light

  • How common is Jet lag?

    Jet lag is common among travelers.

  • Is jet lag worse going east or west?

    Traveling toward the East creates more jet lag than traveling towards the West. When traveling from the West to a destination in the East you should sleep earlier and wake up early to adjust to the right sleep patterns.

    When traveling from the East to a destination in the West you should go to bed a little bit late before departure to be able to adjust to the right sleep patterns. 

  • How long Jet lag last?

    The longer time you spend in your area of destination the longer time your body will take to adjust. According to researchers, it takes 1 day to adjust to 1½ hours of time change.

  • What are the benefits of jet lag treatment?

    Jet lag treatment reduces jet lag symptoms and therefore helps you enjoy your trips and vacations. Jet lag treatments help you adjust quickly to specific time zones.

  • How do you avoid jet lag before traveling?

    You can avoid jet lag a few days or weeks before traveling by scheduling your sleeping time similarly to that of the planned destination.

  • Who is most likely to be affected by Jet lag?

    Jet lag occurs to people who travel across more than 3 time zones and the time of the destination is more than 3 hours different from that of the place of departure.

  • When are you likely to get Jet lag?

    You are more likely to get jet lag when you are having multiple plane travels to the East. Multiple travel to the East makes you suffer from Jet lag disorder.

  • What are the dangers of jet lag?

    As a student jet lag can affect your concentration in class leading to poor performance. As an employee, jet lag can affect your physical and mental performance at work and this can lead to losing your job.

  • Which is the best jet lag tablet?

    The best jet lag tablet is melatonin treatment. Melatonin helps you sleep especially when you are having a jet lag disorder.


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