Jet Lag Disorder

What is Jet Lag Disorder?

Jet lag disorder, or more commonly known as jet lag, is a sleep disorder that affects people who travel quickly through a series of time zones. The human body contains its own internal clock, which is known as circadian rhythms. This signals your body when it is time to go to sleep, and when it is time to be awake.

Jet lag happens because the body’s internal clock is still set to the time zone you started in, and not the time zone that you landed in. The more time zones you travel through, the more likely you are to suffer from jet lag. Jet lag has a series of symptoms that make life miserable. It is important to remember that it is a temporary condition, but it can make traveling miserable, especially if you travel on a regular basis.

There are measures you can take to reduce the possibility of developing jet lag.

What are the Symptoms of Jet Lag Disorder?

The symptoms of jet lag can vary from person to person. Some people experience only one symptom, while others experience a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms include

  • Disturbed sleep
  • Waking early
  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty functioning
  • Stomach irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Not feeling well
  • Changes in mood

It is important to realize that the more time zones you have crossed, the worse your jet lag may be. Usually, jet lag starts within a day or two of traveling. Usually, jet lag does not occur unless you have traveled at least two time zones. The more time zones that you cross, the more sever your jet lag may be. This is especially true if you travel to the east.

Many people find that jet lag resolves itself after a few days for each time zone crossed.

How is Jet Lag Disorder Treated?

Jet lag does not usually require medical treatment. Symptoms usually resolve after a few days, but may last longer if you have traveled over multiple time zones.

Treatments include

If you travel a lot on business, you may need to see a sleep specialist, who will be able to prescribe medication to assist in resolving your symptoms.

Many patients find relief in taking sleep aids to help resolve their symptoms. Other patients require a benzodiazepine in order to cope with frequent jet lag. Other patients see relief through light therapy, which helps to reset the natural sleep cycle.

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Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017
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