Symptoms of jet lag - Causes of jet lag
Symptoms of jet lag
The symptoms of jet lag are different for everyone. It also depends on how far you have flown, how many time zones you have crossed and in which direction you have travelled.
Most people with jet lag feel tired but can't drop off to sleep at the right times. You might find that you're awake and alert late at night and feel very tired during the day time.
Other symptoms of jet lag include:
disturbed digestion and bowel habits
loss of appetite
feeling generally unwell
lack of energy (fatigue)
increased frequency of headaches
Causes of jet lag
Jet lag is caused by a disruption to your body clock. Your body clock gets used to a regular rhythm of daylight and darkness and travelling to a different time zone disrupts this.
The world is divided into 24 time zones based around Greenwich meridian in London, UK. The time changes by one hour for every 15 degrees travelled in either direction from here.
If you travel over three time zones you are at risk of jet lag. This means that if you fly from the UK to Europe, Africa or the Middle East you probably won't be affected by jet lag. However, you may have symptoms if you're travelling from the UK to the following regions:
the Pacific islands
the US and Canada
Central and South America
Jet lag tends to be more of a problem if you're flying east because your body finds it harder to adjust to a slightly shorter day than a slightly longer one.
If you're an older traveller or you have a strict routine, you may suffer more from jet lag. Children and babies are less likely to show symptoms of jet lag because they can usually sleep at any time.
There are a number of things that can make jet lag worse, including:
lack of sleep
The level of oxygen in the aeroplane cabin can also be a factor. Cabin air contains ample oxygen for healthy passengers but because cabin air pressure is relatively low compared to what your body is used to, the amount of oxygen carried in the blood is reduced. Passengers with certain medical conditions, such as heart and lung disease and anaemia, may find this uncomfortable. If you have such a medical condition, you should speak to your GP and the airline before travelling.