Jet Lag and Sleep

jet lag Jet lag can profoundly affect sleep and alertness.  This sleep disorder occurs when your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythms), which tells you when to sleep, becomes imbalanced after traveling to different time zones.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, when a person travels to a new time zone their “circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it’s actually the middle of the afternoon, or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night.”

Jet lag can lead to daytime fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, mood changes, a general unwell feeling, headaches, mild depression, insomnia and difficulty staying alert and concentrating.   These symptoms generally appear within a day or two of travel and can worsen the longer you travel and the more time zones you cross.

There are several ways to combat or minimize the effects of jet lag.  Here are a few you can try:

  • Avoid alcohol the day before your flight and during your flight.
  • Get plenty of rest before you fly.
  • Avoid caffeine or other caffeinated beverages before or while traveling.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Wear sunglasses during your flight.
  • Move around the plane on long flights.
  • Adapt immediately to the schedule of your destination. While it may be tempting to sleep during the day after your arrival, it is advised that you stay up and active and expose your body to sunlight.
  • Avoid heavy meals upon arrival to your destination.

Symptoms of jet lag are mostly temporary and typically last a few days; however, if you are a frequent flyer they may become more severe. You can speak with your doctor or a sleep specialist who may recommend treatments such as light therapy, melatonin supplements or prescription medication.

To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718- 206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.