Jet Lag - AYO

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Circadian Health Glossary

What Is Jet Lag?

Jet lag or travel fatigue is a temporary sleep disorder that occurs when you travel across multiple time zones. It is caused by a temporal disruption in your body's circadian rhythm, which regulates the natural biological cycles of your body. Jet lag is more common when traveling west to east. Adjusting to a shorter day can lead to sleep difficulties and daytime fatigue. Traveling westward aligns better with the body's natural clock, making adaptation easier.

How Does Jet Lag Happen?

Our internal body clock is typically synced with our external environment, also known as the rising and setting of the sun. When we travel across multiple time zones, our body’s internal clock remains on its original schedule while our external environment changes. The adjustment of the body clocks lags behind, because jet-travel is faster than the body clock can adjust (rule of thumb: the body clock can shift in phase by about one hour per day, when traveling across 7 time zones, takes about seven days to adjust).

 

This leads to a mismatch between our internal biological cycles and the new time zone we are in, causing symptoms of jet lag.

What Are the Symptoms of Jet Lag?

People may experience one or multiple of the following symptoms:

• Fatigue
Insomnia
• Daytime sleepiness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Digestive issues
• Mood changes
• Headaches
• Muscle soreness

How Does Light Therapy Help Cure Jet Lag?

Light therapy is a treatment method that involves exposing yourself to bright light at specific times of the day to help adjust your body’s sleep pattern. This can be done using natural sunlight (which should be favored to help alleviate symptoms of jetlag) or specialized devices such as wearable glasses if and when sunlight is not available.

Light therapy has been found to be an effective method in easing the sleep problems jet lag causes. It is helping individuals adjust to new time zones more quickly and sleep at night. By exposing yourself to the correct type and intensity of light, you can help synchronize your biological cycles with the new time zone and minimize the effects of jet lag.

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