Jet lag Disorder – Symptoms Causes and More

Jet Lag Disorder

Overview: Jet lag Disorder

Jet lag, also known as Jet lag Disorder, may be described as a short-term sleep disorder that affects those who frequently travel across time zones.

Your body is equipped with its own internal clock (circadian rhythms) which tells your body to remain awake and when to fall asleep. Jet lag is caused by the fact that your body’s internal clock is linked to your home time zone, and not according to in which you’ve been. The more time zones you cross the more likely you’ll be to suffer from jet delay.

Jet lag can lead to daytime tiredness, an uncomfortable feeling, difficulties staying alert, and digestive issues. The effects of jet lag are temporary, but it could greatly impact your business or vacation ease. There are ways you can reduce or prevent jet lag.

Symptoms of Jet lag Disorder

The symptoms of jet lag are different. It is possible to experience just one sign or suffer from multiple. Jet lag symptoms may include:

  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia, early waking up or excessive sleepiness
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating or working at your normal level
  • Constipation, stomach problems, or diarrhea
  • An overall sense of not being in good health
  • The mood changes

The more you travel

Jet lag symptoms typically occur within a couple of days after travel, if you’ve traveled through at least two time zones. The symptoms are more likely to get worse or last longer depending on the number of time zones you’ve crossed particularly those who travel eastwards. It typically takes around one day to heal for every time zone you’ve crossed.

When should you see a doctor?

Jet lag is temporary. However, if you’re an avid traveler and constantly struggle with jet lag and fatigue, it’s worth consulting with a sleep expert.


A disruption in your circadian rhythms

Jet lag can happen anytime you traverse multiple time zones. Jet lag happens because the crossing of multiple time zones can throw the internal timer (circadian rhythms) that regulates your sleep and wake cycles, off-time with time in your new place.

For instance, if you depart New York on a flight at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and get to Paris in Paris at seven a.m. Wednesday however, your internal clock believes that it’s 1 a.m. It means you’re bed-ready just when Parisians are getting up.

Because it takes just a few weeks for the body’s system to adapt to your new sleep-wake cycle as well as many other body functions, like eating habits and bowel movements remain out of tune with the other people in Paris.

The effect of sunlight

One of the most important influences on the internal clock of your body is sunlight. It’s because sunlight influences Melatonin’s regulation which is a hormone that helps to synchronize cells throughout your body.

Certain cells within the tissue that lies behind your eyes (retina) transmit signals of light to an area of your brain known as the hypothalamus.

In the evening, when there is a light signal dim the hypothalamus instructs the pineal gland which is a tiny organ in the brain, to release the hormone melatonin. In daylight, however, the opposite happens as your pineal gland produces tiny amounts of Melatonin.

It is possible to make it easier to adjust to the different time zone simply by opening your light in your time zone, so long that the timing of light is carried out correctly.

Airline cabin pressure as well as atmosphere

A few studies have shown that changes in cabin pressure and altitudes associated with travel could be a contributing factor to signs of jetlag regardless of traveling through time zones.

Furthermore, the humidity levels are also low in airplanes. In the event that you do not drink sufficient fluids on your trip, you may become dehydrated. Dehydration can also cause certain symptoms of jet lag.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase the chance you’ll suffer from jet lag include:

  • The number of time zones you have crossed. The more time zones that you travel through, the more likely are likely to be jet-lagged.
  • Flying east. It may be more difficult to fly east if you “lose” time than to fly west in the event that you gain time.
  • Being a frequent traveler. Flight attendants, pilots, and business travelers are more likely to experience jetlag.
  • The older you get, the more. Adults who are older may require longer to recuperate from jet lag than younger adults.


Accidents involving motor vehicles caused by sleepy driving could be more common in those who are tired and jet-lagged.


A few simple steps can aid in preventing jet lag or lessen its effects of it:

  • Make sure you arrive early. If you are attending an important appointment or event that requires you to perform at a high level make sure you arrive a few days earlier to allow your body to adjust.
  • Take a good night’s rest prior to your journey. Sleeping in can make jetlag more severe.
  • Make small adjustments to your schedule prior to when you take off. If you’re flying east, you can try going to sleep an hour earlier each night for a few nights prior to your departure. You can sleep an hour later over the course of several nights if flying west. If you can, eat your meals earlier than the time you’ll eat them when you arrive at the airport.
  • Regulate bright light exposure. Since exposure to light is one of the main factors that affect the body’s circadian rhythm managing light exposure could assist you in adapting to the new location. In general exposure to light during the evening will help you adapt to a later time than your normal clock time (traveling westward) and exposure to morning light could aid in adjusting to an earlier time zone more quickly (traveling to the east).
    The only exception is when you’ve traveled over eight time zones in the time zone you were in as your body could confuse early morning light with evening darkness. The body could also misinterpret the evening light with earlier morning sunlight.
    Therefore, if you’ve traveled across more than 8 time zones, you should wear sunglasses and avoid bright sunlight during the day, and let in as much sunshine as you can in the late afternoon during those first days of the new place.
    If you’ve traveled west for multiple time zones try to avoid daylight for a few hours before it gets dark for the first few days to make sure you are adjusting to local time.
  • Keep your new schedule in mind. Change your timer to the latest time before leaving. When you arrive at the destination, you should try not to go to bed until local time of night, regardless of how tired you feel. Make sure to align your meals around local times as well.
  • Be hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids prior to and after your flight to help counteract the drying effects of humid cabin air. Dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, because they can dehydrate you and disrupt your sleep.
  • Try sleeping on the plane, especially if it’s an evening at the airport. Earplugs, headphones, and eye masks are a great way to keep out light and noise. If it’s daylight when you are avoid the temptation to fall asleep.

Treatment for Jet lag Disorder

Jet lag can be temporary and generally doesn’t require treatment. It is common for symptoms to improve after several days, but they can last for longer.

If you’re frequently traveling and are suffering from jet lag the doctor could prescribe light therapy or medication.

Light therapy

The internal clock of your body is affected by exposure to sunlight, in addition to other elements. When you travel between times zones, your body needs to adapt to the new daylight schedule and then reset so that you can sleep and wake up at the right times.

The doctor might recommend the use of light therapy. It involves exposure to artificially bright light or lamp that mimics sunlight for a certain and frequent period of time during the hours you’re supposed to remain awake. Light therapy can be found in many shapes, like the lightbox which sits on the table as well as a desk lamp, or a visor with a light that is worn around your head.

Light therapy could be beneficial for instance if you’re a business person and often aren’t able to access natural sunlight in a different time zone.


  • Nonbenzodiazepines, such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Theozepam (Restoril) as well as midazolam (Nayzilam)

These drugs, sometimes called sleeping pills can help you sleep through your flight and also for a few nights following. There are no known side effects but could include nausea amnesia, vomiting, sleepwalking, confusion, and early morning sleepiness.

While these medicines seem to improve the quality and duration of sleep but they don’t reduce the effects of jet lag that occur during the day. They are typically suggested for people who aren’t being helped by other treatment options.

Lifestyle and remedies at home


Utilize the sun for resetting your clock. It’s the most effective natural method for controlling your sleep/wake cycles.

The morning light can aid in adjusting to a different clock (traveling eastward) and evening light can help you adjust to the later timing zone (traveling towards the west). Make a plan ahead and determine the ideal timings for exposure to light depending on the points of departure and return and your general sleeping habits:

  • Before you travel. It is possible to begin with light therapy for up to three days prior to travel to make sure you are adjusting to the new time zone prior to you reach the destination. If you’re heading east, try getting up an hour earlier than your normal start time and allowing at least an hour of exposure to light. Try this every day until the day you depart for your travels, getting up an hour earlier each day. Also, you should adjust your bedtime by an hour earlier every night , if it is possible. To travel west, you should delay your bedtime and wake times.
  • At your destination. If you’ve traveled east and traveled through the time zone of three or five, consider not to be exposed to bright light early on a Saturday morning. You should try to have several hours of bright sunlight exposure during the mid-to-late morning. If you’re crossing multiple time zones or travelling west, try to avoid bright light in the morning prior to your arrival, but look for sunshine during the early afternoon. In the day wearing dark glasses, you can to block the light to stay clear of exposure. In the evening, you can draw curtains or blinds on your windows or wear a sleeping mask. Each day during your journey, gradually increase your lighting exposure to the earlier.

The combination of light exposure and exercise like jogging or walking can help you adjust to the new routine quicker.


Beverages that contain caffeine like espresso, coffee, and soft drinks can assist in the reduction of daytime sleepiness. Be sure to select drinks that contain caffeine with care. Avoid drinks with caffeine after lunchtime because the caffeine consumed after that time could make it more difficult to sleep or fall asleep effectively.

Alternative medicine


For its role as a treatment for jet lag as well as a sleep aid, melatonin is extensively researched and is widely accepted as an element of effective jetlag treatment. Recent research appears to indicate that melatonin can help sleep during times that you’re not normally asleep, making it a good choice for those suffering from jet fatigue.

The body interprets melatonin as a signal for darkness So melatonin typically is not as effective as bright light.

The timing at which you consume melatonin is vital. If you’re trying to adjust your body clock an earlier time, for instance after having flown east, you must take melatonin before time every night until you’ve adjusted to your local time. If you’re trying to set your body clock for a different hour like after a west-bound flight it is recommended to take melatonin early in the day.

Doses as low as 0.5 milligrams are as effective as doses that are 5 milligrams or more however larger doses were demonstrated in certain studies to have a greater effect on sleep. If you take melatonin apply it 30 minutes prior to when you go to bed or consult your physician regarding the best time to take it.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Melatonin. The effects of melatonin are not common but could include dizziness, headaches, sleepiness during the day as well as a loss of appetite as well as nausea, and disorientation.

Additional remedies that could be possible

Many people exercise to help ease the effects of jetlag.

If you are considering an alternative treatment for your health, like an herbal supplement, make certain to speak with your physician first as certain therapies can interact with other medications, or result in adverse effects.

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