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Jet lag prevention

Circadian rhythm sleep disturbances; Jet lag disorder

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Description

Jet lag is a sleep disorder caused by traveling across different time zones. Jet lag occurs when your body's biological clock is not set with the time zone you are in.

Causes

Your body follows a 24-hour internal clock called a circadian rhythm. It tells your body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Cues from your environment, such as when the sun rises and sets, help set this internal clock.

When you pass through different time zones, it can take your body a few days to adjust to the different time.

How Does Jet Lag Feel?

You may feel like it is time to go to bed several hours before bedtime. The more time zones you pass through, the worse your jet lag can be. Also, traveling east can be harder to adjust to because you lose time.

Symptoms of jet lag include:

Tips for Prevention

Before your trip:

While in flight:

Melatonin, a hormone supplement, may help decrease jet lag. If you will be in flight during the bedtime of your destination, take some melatonin (3 to 5 milligrams) during that time and try to sleep. Then try taking melatonin several hours before bedtime for several days once you arrive.

When you arrive:

References

Drake CL, Wright KP. Shift work, shift-work disorder, and jet lag. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 75.

Markwell P, McLellan SLF. Jet lag. In: Keystone JS, Kozarsky PE, Connor BA, Nothdurft HD, Mendelson M, Leder K, eds. Travel Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 45.

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Review Date: 7/11/2019  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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