Jet Lag

A person's age plays an important role in jet lag disorder. Several studies say that individuals over 60 face circadian changes that create difficulty in recovering from jet lag. Some research also found that in some cases, jet lag has a huge impact on younger people also. Jet lag affects a person after 12 hours of arriving at a new place.

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is a problem related to sleep. Jet lag happens when an individual travels by plane from east to west across two or more time zones. Due to this traveling, the circadian rhythm may change, and the internal biological clock may take some time to adjust to the new timings of sleeping and to wake up. Jet lag is a kind of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. The circadian clock, i.e., the internal biological clock, cycles every 24 hours. Furthermore, this repetition of the 24-hour cycle is known as the circadian rhythm.

Symptoms of Jet Lag

There are several symptoms that individual experiences. Those are −

  • Insomnia, i.e., difficulty in falling asleep, waking up early

  • Daytime drowsiness

  • Headaches

  • Difficulty in concentrating on a particular work

  • High level of tiredness

  • Changing moods such as irritability

  • Stomach−related problems like diarrhea or constipation

  • In rare cases, sleep paralysis and nighttime seizures are also symptoms of jet lag.

Symptoms of Jet Lag


Daytime Drowsiness


Stomach−related Problems

Changing moods such as irritability

High level of tiredness

Difficulty in concentrating

Causes of Jet Lag

Jet lag is worse while traveling east than toward west. This is because the direction of travel may have a different amount of jet lag as it is easier to delay the internal clock than to advance it. Jet lag does not happen in north−south flights as they are not crossing multiple time zones, and everyone does not face jet lag after taking a long-distance flight. Several factors influence jet lag more −

  • Detailing of the trip − Jet lag can be affected by factors like total distance, duration of layovers, the number of time zones crossed, traveling direction, local daylight hours, and time is taken by the plane to reach the final destination.

  • Time of arrival − The timing of arrival at the destination may vary, affecting the circadian rhythm. For example, in traveling eastward, if the arrivals are in the afternoon, the jet lag level decreases to the early morning.

  • Age − Age plays a major role in jet lag. Nevertheless, from studies, it can be found that people over 60 years facing changes in the circadian rhythm can make difficulty in recovering from jet lag, and it was also found that sometimes jet lag is also worse among younger people.

  • Sleeping before traveling − Poor sleep quality on the day of taking a flight can also increase the level of jet lag after traveling.

  • Stress − Taking too much stress can lead to a higher level of jet lag disorder.

  • History of jet lag − Previously facing jet lag issues lead an individual to face it again.

  • Individual variation − Jet lag degree varies from one person to another.

As there are various factors affecting jet lag, it is difficult to understand who will face it, how chronic it will be, and how long it will last.

Treatment for Jet Lag

Till now, there has been no proper treatment or medications to prevent or reduce jet lag. However, professionals give some tips for reducing and preventing it. Jet lag can hugely impact a vacation, business-related trips, and competition. Moreover, for this reason, travelers must minimize jet lag effects. The important way to prevent and reduce jet lag quickly is to readjust the circadian rhythm to accompany the destination's time zone. To achieve this, several steps can be followed. This way, one can avoid disturbance in circadian rhythm during and after the trip. There are some ways by which the circadian rhythm can be reoriented. Those are −

  • Exposure to light − Light exposure can delay or advance the biological clock. Strategic exposure to light can help adjust the internal clock to reduce jet lag.

  • Sleep acids and Melatonin − Prescription medicine, melatonin supplements, and sleeping pills may help reduce jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone produced and released some hours before the scheduled time of sleeping. All these have some side effects as well.

  • Pre-adjusting internal clock − Before traveling to a destination, if one can modify his/her sleep schedule according to the timings of that place, then the inconsistency between the circadian rhythm and the local time can be reduced.

Individuals can make personal plans to reduce jet lag, or they can take the help of a doctor or sleep specialist to help them prepare a plan for managing jet lag.

Tips for Reducing Jet Lag

Several tips before, after, and during the flight can help reduce jet lag.

Before flight

  • The first day of the trip must be scheduled

  • The stress level of traveling must be minimized

  • Getting quality sleep

During flight

  • Staying hydrated

  • Limitations in taking alcohol and caffeine

  • Eating something healthy and light

  • Standing up and moving

After flight

  • Exercising

  • Limitations in taking heavy meals, alcohol, and caffeine

  • Taking siestas not more than 30 minutes


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that jet lag occurs due to traveling across two or more time zones within a very short period, affecting a person's circadian rhythm. It causes headaches, sleep deprivation, problems in the stomach, and various other symptoms. As there is no medication for reducing the problems related to jet lag, exposure to light, managing the timings of sleep, and following a proper schedule for eating and exercising can help resolve the problem more quickly.