Jet lag occurs when we travel long distances across time zones and have our circadian rhythms (our body clock in simple terms) become altered. Though it sounds like an innocuous thing, jet lag or desynchronosis, to call it by its proper name, can often have quite severe symptoms and is thought of as a sleep disorder.
Jet lag can take several days to recover from since all our internal settings that tell us when to sleep, when to awaken, when to eat as well as our inner thermostat that regulates body temperature and even the body’s hormonal levels can get upset. How severe one’s Jet Lag is, will depend upon how far east or west one has traveled (the number of time zones crossed), but its symptoms can also vary greatly from person to person.
Jet lag symptoms
Grogginess and sleepiness during the day time and nighttime awakening is the most commonly noted symptom of jet lag. Insomnia, irregular sleep patterns and tiredness; as well as awakening still feeling tired and unrefreshed are the hallmarks of jet lag. There could be trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep for longer durations. Consequently tiredness and fatigue occur.
A lot of people find that when their sleep is disturbed they can get headaches.
People can get disoriented and may find that their productivity and performance can suffer as a result of jet lag. Business trips or athletic performances can in particular suffer as a result.
One can become moody and irritable as a result of jet lag. Some people can also have some amount of temporary depression. This can mean that you are not able to enjoy a holiday or vacation as much as you may have planned.
There could be other physical consequences of jet lag and some people find that they have digestive disturbances that have little tolerance to local cuisine. The diarrhea or constipation that some travelers experience could be due to jet lag rather than anything else.
Long term impacts of jet lag
Jet lag can upset the normal changes in heart rate and blood pressure as well as changes in body temperature that we experience each day. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol can also alter.
Research has shown that jet lag could mean a relapse or resurfacing of a psychiatric disorder and the upsetting of the circadian rhythm could also hasten the growth of certain cancers. Even normal immunity can suffer as a result.