Jet Lag Symptoms

The severity of the jet lag symptoms usually varies from person to person, and it also depends on the length of the distance traveled. This article provides some useful information regarding the symptoms observed.
The medical term for jet lag is 'desynchronosis'. Basically, it is a physical condition that arises due to a change in the time zone because of long distance transmeridian traveling. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, because it disrupts the internal body clock. A time zone can be defined as a specific geographical area where the clock time remains the same. In all, there are 24 time zones all over the world.

When you fly a long distance crossing a number of time zones, it can badly disrupt the normal functioning of the body clock. This is because the circadian rhythm or body clock, that is responsible for maintaining the time of our daily activities, like eating, sleeping, etc., gets affected. Thus, one suffers from desynchronosis. The duration of the symptoms depends on the number of time zones crossed and adjusting capacity of the body with the specific time zone. Generally, one complete day is required to recover from the jet lag caused by crossing just one single time zone.

Symptoms of Jet Lag

The indicants are usually observed after a person has traveled three time zones. However, there are some people who may develop mild symptoms even after short journeys.

The most common jet lag symptom is sleep deprivation. As a result, a person may find it difficult to fall asleep during the night and feels sleepy during the day.

Due to insufficient sleep, one experiences tiredness, irritability, confusion, and clumsiness. If it continues for a long time, it may lead to depression and fatigue.

Sometimes, digestive problems, like diarrhea and constipation may also arise. Other minor indicants include nausea, loss of appetite, lightheadedness, dull headache, sudden sweating, lack of concentration, memory problems, etc.

Desynchronosis is more intense when you are flying towards east. This is because it is difficult for our body to adapt to shorter days than longer ones. This disorder is more common amongst the elderly and those who maintain a strict routine for daily activities.

The indicants are less prevalent in small children and babies, as they can sleep at any time of the day. The symptoms get aggravated further due to stress, intake of alcohol, and dehydration.

The air pressure inside the aircraft is much lower than what our body is accustomed to, as a result, the oxygen content of our blood decreases to a great extent. This does not pose any problems for healthy people.


The severity of a jet lag is different for every individual. Therefore, there is no treatment as such that can cure the condition.

☛ You should compulsorily sleep for 7 to 8 hours in the new time zone to get rid of fatigue and depression. In the new time zone, avoid afternoon naps to adjust the body to the new time zone.

☛ An early dinner containing more carbohydrates and less proteins is helpful in coping with the newly developed condition.

☛ Some herbal medicines, believed to reduce the severity of the symptoms, are available. However, their effectiveness has not been proved as yet. Medicines like paracetamol can be taken to get rid of fever and headache.

☛ The hormone melatonin is secreted in the evening time by a gland near our brain to signal that it's time to sleep. Some research studies suggest that the intake of melatonin supplements can help in preventing jet lag. However, so far it has been effective on only some people and not very effectual on others.

☛ Try not to fly if you are unwell. Prior to the trip, if you take plenty of rest, then the symptoms will not be that severe.

☛ While traveling, wear comfortable clothes to keep yourself relaxed. Drink plenty of fluids, like fruit juices and water to prevent dehydration. If possible, avoid the intake of caffeine or alcohol.

To conclude, bear the above pointers in mind to have a hassle-free flying experience. Those with heart/lung diseases or anemia can experience severe symptoms, hence they should consult their doctors before traveling.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.