Jet Lag

Jet lagged passenger

Overview of jet lag

Disturbance in sleep cycle affects nearly 150 million of the global population, as reported by National Sleep Foundation. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation have become common among all age groups and are triggered by multiple factors like age, medications, occupation, existing diseases and at times genetic factors.A very prominent form of sleep disorder that is impacting global health is “Jet lag”. It is caused due to prolonged hours of travel especially across different time zones that results in impairment of the body’s normal sleep-wake cycle and gives rise to numerous complications pertaining to sleeplessness.

According to epidemiological studies by American Academy of Sleep Medicine, nearly 93% of travelers worldwide are suffering from jet lag syndromes. It is therefore evident that sleep disorders have become a major global health burden.

 

Definition of jet lag

jet lag causesJet lag is a collective term for all physiological and psychological symptoms that are manifested in people traveling across multiple time zones within very short time intervals.

It is mainly observed as a disruption of the body’s normal sleep-wake and day-night cycle (medically termed as Circadian Rhythm) due to rapid switch between different time zones.

It is marked by extreme fatigue (especially daytime sleepiness), gastrointestinal disorders, difficulty in sleeping, loss of concentration and unstable mental state (irritability and depression).

Jet lag disorders are more prevalent among people traveling from western zone to eastern zone, due to loss of sleeping hours.

 

Causes of jet lag

Jet lag is primarily caused due to advanced or delayed sleep time while crossing different time zones. It is a result of lack of sync between endogenous Circadian Clock and the sleep-wake hours of the destination time zone. The etiological factors behind jet lag are discussed below-

  • Fluctuation and maladjustment in the levels of melatonin (hormone regulating sleep-wake cycles and other physiological functions within the body) that usually reaches peak level in blood at around 2 AM (according to local time zone)
  • Crossing multiple time zones within a very short period of time
  • Frequent exposure to change in time zones mainly due to occupational requirements
  • Travel headed to east ( due to considerable shortening of the day length )
  • Complete loss of sleep during the entire time of travel
  • Exposure to bright light (illumination within aircraft or sunlight) during an inappropriate time of the Circadian Cycle (due to re-adjustment of the normal Circadian Rhythm)
  • Lack of adaptability to Circadian Misalignment (mainly due to age)
  • Lack of physical fitness to adjust to changes in sleep-wake cycles or extreme sensitivity to change in time zones
  • Dehydration-induced by very high environmental temperature (of destination)
  • Shortage of oxygen in the body due to reduced pressure at very high altitudes
  • Lack of adjustment with cabin pressure and low humidity within the aircraft (causes dehydration)
  • Deterioration of body’s resistance to fluctuations induced by external environment due to age or existing diseases

 

Pathophysiology of jet lag

jet lag treatmentThe main contributing factor behind jet lag is the melatonin hormone which controls the Circadian Rhythm of the body and associated physiological functions.

Melatonin is released during the night (solar dark hours) causing dilation of peripheral blood vessels and a subsequent drop in body temperature.

Melatonin level in the blood normally reaches the maximum level during 2 AM.

Therefore during a change of time zones readjustment of the internal body clock becomes necessary to attain the peak level at the same time according to the local time zone of the destination.

But this fails to happen because Melatonin secretion is inhibited by bright light, which a traveler is frequently exposed to (at the wrong hours) during the transition between different time zones. This leads to series of jet lag symptoms.

 

Symptoms of jet lag

Jet lag is manifested as a series of co-related symptoms which are more prominent after completion of the entire travel period. They can vary from mild to severe, depending on the clinical state of the body. Following are the commonly observed jet lag symptoms.

  • Acute insomnia due to disturbed sleep cycle at night
  • Drowsiness during the daytime which mostly results from loss of sleep at night
  • Extreme fatigue and overall weakness
  • Gastrointestinal disorders like constipation or diarrhea
  • Mental instability causing frequent mood swings, depression, and irritability
  • Cognitive impairments leading to loss of concentration or inability to perform normal activities
  • Reduced alertness caused by disturbed melatonin secretion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps and overall body pain due to incorrect sleeping postures during the entire time of flight
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent headaches

 

Types of jet lag

Jet lags can be of two types based on the direction of travel (east to west/west to east)

  • Eastward travel: Eastward travels have more chances of inducing jet lags because a virtual shortening of the overall day-length occurs, causing loss of sleeping hours. The main difficulty observed after traveling 6-9 hours towards east is that the local morning time may wrongly coincide with the phase of the body cycle preceding that particular phase. In this case, the internal body clock normally adjusts via a phase delay (disadvantageous as compared to phase advance). This is triggered by melatonin secretion and exposure to bright light during inappropriate timings of the day (that contradicts the normal Circadian Cycle).
  • Westward travel: During westward travel, the body clock adjusts via phase advance that is more evident during the extended first day of travel. In this case, a short nap is essential during the initial hours of the travel that prevents sleepiness during odd hours of the day (due to homeostatic effects).

Treatment & Prevention

jet lag symptomsIn order to prevent jet lag from occurring, try to get as much sleep as possible during the flight. Use ear-plugs and eye masks to ensure you get uninterrupted sleep.

If you are taking an east-bound flight, try waking up few hours earlier everyday and do the opposite if taking a west-bound flight.

Refrain from consuming alcohol or caffeine on the day of travel, as these substances interfere with natural melatonin production of the body can hamper sleep during and after the flight.

In order to treat jet lag symptoms, it is important to synchronise your body’s cycle with the natural daylight. Try to get as much sunlight as possible to naturally reset your body’s circadian rhythm. Few OTC (Over-The-Counter) melatonin supplements can also help with this condition. Upon reaching the new time zone, try to take your meals at regulated hours so that your body starts adjusting to the new time schedule. Always get a full night’s sleep before and after your extended journey.

Typically the vulnerable groups of jet lag are people traveling across different time zones due to professional requirements (flight attendants, pilots, athletes, businessmen). National Sleep Foundation has formulated different diagnostic techniques to completely assess jet lag such as- maintaining sleep logs, Actigraphy and Polysomnography. Certain therapeutic measures proposed by doctors worldwide have also proved to be effective in coping with jet lag syndromes and associated complications.

 

 

Facts

  • Jet lag is mainly a result of our body’s circadian rhythms resetting as a result of a sudden change in daily routine.
  • Women are more affected by jet lag than men.

Facts

  • Contrary to popular myth, jet lag doesn’t happen simply because of flying.
  • 93% people traveling across multiple time zones will experience jet lag at least once in their lives.
  • The side-effects of jet lag worsen in people accustomed to humid air, because of the dry air inside the aircraft.

Facts

  • Jet –lag only occurs as a result of east to west or west to east flights. If you take a flight down south or up north, without any change in time zone, jet lag will not manifest.
  • East-bound travelers get worse jet-lag symptoms compared to westbound because of increase in the length of day

Related Conditions

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you exercise regularly and have a balanced diet, chances of elevated jetlag symptoms will be less.
  • Keep your body well-hydrated throughout the flight. Refrain from taking alcohol.
  • Wear sunglasses to limited eye’s exposure to sunlight. It will help regulate the melatonin production in the body which is linked to sleep.
Don'ts
  • Consume junk food or fried items. Eat foods that will speed up your metabolism and not strain your digestive system too much.
  • Sleep throughout the day.Take 20-minute power naps instead.
  • Spend too much time indoors.Get a light walk or swim. It is important to get some exercise and sunshine.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
low carb foods spinach
Low carb vegetables: A complete list of what to pick from during a keto diet Is your plate of veggies making you fat? Are all vegetables created equal? Research reveals that these low…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
waking up tired
10 reasons why you might be waking up tired Do you feel you are not getting enough sleep? Sleep-deprived and frustrated? Read on discover the real reasons…
anal sex
Anal sex: Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
canola oil cooking
Canola oil: How safe is it to consume this popular cooking oil? Extracted from rapeseeds, Canola oil derives its name from Canadian Oil. Did you know that some forms of…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with essential nutrients that…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
cold flu sinus treatment
How to beat the common cold, flu, and sinus infection instantly? Can you guess some of the easiest tricks to treat cold and sinus infections? How are these different…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
chia seeds weight loss
Chia seeds: How to consume this staple Aztec food to get a leaner body Chia seeds: What is the actual reason for its sudden popularity? Why are celebrities swearing by its amazing…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
Whole30 diet fad
Whole30 Diet – Why eliminating certain foods just doesn’t cut it Whole30 Diet: Is this the ‘whole’-y grail of a disease-free body? Read more to find out the truth…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
Panera bread steak arugula
Panera Bread: The truth behind this “healthy” restaurant chain What to order and what to avoid when dining at Panera Bread ? Know more about this popular…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Nitric oxide: Why is this heart-healthy supplement every sportsman’s first choice? Once considered a vastly toxic substance, nitric oxide is now deemed to be a great health supplement. Find…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Ketosis bad breath
Ketosis: A potentially dangerous side effect of the popular keto diet? Ketosis occurs when you have too low carb intake. Though it means rapid fat loss, it could also…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond to danger. How…
top 5 deadliest cancers
A sneak peek into the top 5 deadliest cancers and the true nature of their origins Did you know that cancer is the 2nd leading cause of deaths globally? Among the 100s of different…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Potassium healthy
Potassium: How only 100 mg a day can dramatically increase your lifespan! The word potassium comes from the process where wood ashes were stored in pots for extraction. What else…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
CBD oil safe
Cannabidiol benefits: Evaluating the “highs” of CBD Oil The word cannabis paints a picture of addicts. But did you know that CBD oil, extracted from the…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Healthy pregnancy tips
How to have a healthy pregnancy: Essential tips to remember What to expect when growing a life within you? How important are prenatal vitamins anyway? Don't make these…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military diet, a highly…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
kale
Kale: With more iron than beef, this superfood is the ultimate way to lose weight Checkmate meat-eaters; with kale, vegans now have the ultimate iron-rich superfood as their ally that can protect from…