Jet Lag: Causes & Symptoms

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For those of us who have ever spent time traveling, particularly flying over an ocean, or traveling multiple times in a matter of a few days, then jet lag has become an unavoidable part of the experience.

What is Jet Lag?

Medically known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis, jet lag plagues millions of people each year who travel longitudinally by plane, and at one point, it was actually classified as a sleep disorder. It can often take a few days to get over, which includes being wide awake in the middle of the night in your new locale, feeling exhausted during the day, and generally “lagging behind” the rest of the world.



Essentially, since planes can transport us so quickly across huge distances, we will end up in a different time zone than where we started, having “gained” or “lost” a handful of hours – or even more.

Basically, you can depart from London at 10 am heading west, and land in San Francisco 11 hours later. Your body will feel as though it is nearly 10 pm, but when you land, San Francisco is 8 hours behind London, which means that it is approximately 1 pm! Your body’s normal clock, the way that it regulates your sleep cycles, the chemical balance in your system…all of them can get thrown severely out of whack by jet lag.


The symptoms of jet lag can vary in individuals. You may experience only one symptom or more than one. Jet lag symptoms may include:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level
  • Upset stomach, or constipation
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Mood changes
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