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Jet lag disorder

Jet lag, also called jet lag disorder, is a temporary sleep disorder that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones. Jet lag is caused when your body's internal clock or circadian rhythms, which tell your body when to stay awake and when to sleep in the old time zone, are out of sync with cues from the new time zone, such as light exposure and dining times. The more time zones crossed, the more likely you are to experience jet lag.

Jet lag can cause daytime fatigue, an unwell feeling, difficulty staying alert and gastrointestinal problems. Jet lag is temporary, but it can significantly reduce your vacation or business travel comfort. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent or minimize jet lag.


Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Symptoms of jet lag can vary. You may experience only one symptom or multiple symptoms. Jet lag symptoms may include:

  • Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level
  • Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea
  • A general feeling of not being well
  • Muscle soreness
  • Menstrual symptoms in women

Symptoms worse the farther you travel

Jet lag symptoms usually occur within a day or two of travel if you've traveled across at least two time zones. Symptoms are likely to be worse or last longer the more time zones that you've crossed, especially if you travel in an easterly direction. It's estimated to take about a day to recover for each time zone crossed.

When to see a doctor

Jet lag is temporary. But if you are a frequent traveler and continually struggle with jet lag, you may benefit from seeing a sleep specialist.


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