8 Symptoms of Jet Lag

If you’ve ever flown across the world on a long international flight, you’re probably more than familiar with the term “jet lag,” or “desynchronosis.” As the term implies, jet lag occurs when your body’s circadian rhythm is completely out of whack from what your normal routine is, interrupting your normal sleep and awake schedule.

Your body is regulated by a variety of factors, both internal and external, such as the amount of daylight that is outside. When it’s dark, your body instinctively knows to sleep, and vice versa when it’s light. Traveling across multiple time zones causes your body to lose track of when it should begin to shut down, and can disrupt your hormone schedule. Your body temperature will begin to rise and you will find yourself becoming loopy.

Jet lag affects two different sets of neurons that are designed to help you sleep: one that deals with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and the other that handles physical fatigue. Jet lag disorients those and causes them to become out of sync. Furthermore, Jet lag can be worsened by a few things, such as alcohol or caffeine which can speed up your system and cause dehydration. Traveling east as opposed to west affects jet lag more, as does age.

Below are symptoms commonly associated with jet lag:

1. Whole Body Fatigue

The feeling of being crammed inside of a plane for hours on end is both suffocating and anxiety-inducing, and the lack of rest that comes from prolonged travel only exacerbates these symptoms. Unless you were able to take regular walking trips around the plane, chances are your body’s reduced oxygen levels (due to being at higher elevation) and lower water intake have caused your body to work harder, which produces a fatigue that envelops your whole body. This feeling should go away within a few days, but if you find yourself still exhausted from head to toe, it’s best to get your body checked out by a doctor.

Fatigue throughout your whole body is a sort of “catch-all” for the other items on this list, but it is no less important than the others. It can involve headaches, inability to concentrate, reduced hand-eye coordination, or even, in the worst-case scenarios, hallucinations. Your joints and bones will become harder to move due to a lower oxygen supply, and your brain does not work as efficiently. Feeling fatigue throughout your whole body is its way of telling you to slow down and take a rest; if not, other less visible parts of your body may suffer also.