Jet Lag Symptoms

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Jet lag
Is it jet lag or sleep deprivation?.

Jet lag symptoms can affect your ability to sleep because it is a transient sleep disorder. You should recover in a day or two depending on how many time zones you crossed but in severe cases (long voyages), you may experience the symptoms of jet lag for a week or more.

Experiencing Jet Lag: Jet Lag Symptoms

Jet lag symptoms include mental, emotional, and physical disruptions. Not everyone experiences all the symptoms associated with this sleep disorder, you may only experience one or two and still have jet lag. Travelers are not the only people who experience jet lag. Individuals who change work shifts are also at risk for jet lag.

Mental and Emotional Symptoms

Mental and emotional symptoms may affect you during wakeful hours when trying to go about your daily activities. The inability to function well during the day can also affect how you sleep at night because you might worry about your behavior during the day and all of the things you were unable to accomplish. The following is a list of some of the most common mental and emotional symptoms:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Memory Loss
  • Mood swings
  • Disorientation
  • Decrease in decision-making skills

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms of jet lag may make you feel like you have an illness much more serious than jet lag. Many of the ailments on this list are a result of an inability to sleep during your routine sleeping hours:

  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive yawning
  • Grogginess
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dehydration
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Stomach upset
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartbeat irregularities
  • Swollen legs and feet
  • Discomfort in legs and feet
  • Decrease in sexual drive
  • Muscle ache and pain
  • Decrease in coordination
  • Slower reflexes
  • Cough
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry skin
  • Sinus problems
  • Paleness
  • Clammy skin
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Susceptible to illness due to decrease in immune system function

Be Aware

Many of these symptoms can interfere in your work when you return home. It's important to be cautious driving and operating dangerous machinery when you are experiencing the above symptoms.

How to Relieve Jet Lag Symptoms

The symptoms of jet lag may make it difficult for you to return to your regular schedule once you return home from a long trip. There isn't much you can do to relieve the symptoms of jet lag except try to adjust your body to the time zone you have returned to by setting your watch to the correct time and trying to sleep as you normally would at home. Not allowing yourself to sleep during the daytime will help you fall asleep at night. Some people find relief by taking non-habit forming sleeping pills to get their body adjusted back to sleeping when they need to.

When You Have no Relief

If it's been more than a week and you are still unable to sleep at night, you have may have a different sleep disorder. It's important to contact your doctor to discuss what you are experiencing. The trip you took or new work schedule may cause you to have jet lag; however, you may also be experiencing another medical or psychological issue that prevents you from recovering from your trip or new schedule.

Hang in there, once you get help you will begin to feel like your regular self again and be able to get that relaxing night's sleep you have been longing for since before your trip or work schedule change.

Was this page useful?
Jet Lag Symptoms