Jet Lag and How it Affects Sleep

Everyone’s body has an internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. This is referred to as your circadian rhythm (patterns your body follows based on a 24-hour day). Unfortunately, when you travel over multiple time zones, your internal clock does not adjust as your cell phone or watch would to the new time. This can lead to a temporary sleep issue called jet lag, where your body is not in sync with the daytime-nighttime schedule of the destination. In fact, the more time zones you quickly crossed in your travels, the more likely you are to experience jet lag. This is especially true when traveling from west to east.


The longer you stay in your new destination, your body will adjust to this change. It just takes time.

Symptoms of Jet Lag

You may experience one or more symptoms of jet lag:

  • Headaches
  • Disturbed Sleep/Wake Cycles
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Stomach Problems (Gastrointestinal)
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Lack of Energy
  • Reduced Alertness
  • Moodiness and Irritability
  • Decreased Work Performance (mental/physical)
  • Feeling Unwell

How to Reduce the Symptoms of Jet Lag

Luckily, there are some things you can do to help prevent or reduce jet lag.

  1. Before you travel, gradually adjust your sleep routine.

By changing your regular sleep pattern a few days before your departure, it will help your internal clock to adjust to the destination time zone a bit easier. Depending on the direction you will travel, you can start going to bed an hour or two earlier (if traveling East) or an hour or two later (if traveling West) a week before your departure. 

  1. Get rest before your trip.

If you are already sleep-deprived, then you will likely experience a worsening of jet-lag symptoms.

  1. Sleep on the plane if it is nighttime at your destination.

Using earplugs, headphones, and eye masks can all help block out the noise and light. If it is daytime where you are going, try and resist the urge to sleep on the plane.

  1. Stay hydrated.

Dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. It is important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine-heavy beverages. This will help to counteract the dehydrating effects of the dry cabin air when flying.

  1. Seek out sunlight upon arrival.

If you arrive at your destination during the daytime, it is important that you seek out sunlight. Daylight is one of the most powerful tools for regulating your sleep-wake cycle, as it influences the regulation of melatonin. 

  1. Eat healthy.

Try to avoid deep-fried, large, or rich/heavy meals. Try to eat healthy for the first few days as you are combatting jet lag.

  1. Stay on your new schedule.

Try to time your meals and your sleep schedule with local meal and sleep times. If you arrive at your destination during the day and feel like you need to sleep, only take a 20-minute nap and then try to stay awake until nighttime at your destination.

  1. Stay active.

When you arrive at your destination, stay active. Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon will refresh you and help rest your internal clock. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime.

  1. Avoid coffee and alcohol before bed.

Consuming coffee and/or alcohol near bedtime will disrupt your system even more.

  1. Keep calm.

Stress can make the effects of jet lag even worse!

Special Travel Issue In Collaboration with Langham Hospitality Group


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