Whether you think traveling via airplane is terrifying or astonishing (or simply mundane, at this point), it is hard to imagine life without it. But no matter how many mini packets of pretzels we are given, some of us are always left with a dreadful case of jet lag. What is it, anyway, and what makes some cases worse than others?
Jet lag is a physiological condition that disrupts our circadian rhythms. “Circadian rhythms” is a technical term for what is basically the body’s “clock.” Our circadian rhythms are set by external factors like the lightness of day and the darkness of night, and they regulate many of our daily activities. When you rapidly cross times zones, as people do when they travel on airplanes, your sleep-wake patterns are disturbed, and you may get jet lag.
Typical symptoms include headaches, fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite and/or slight confusion.
Factors that may lead to more severe case of jet lag:
Travelling eastward. If you are moving east, your symptoms may be more severe because the day will seem longer.
Age. Sometimes it takes older people a longer time to reset their body clocks.
Alcohol: Drinking too much during a long flight can worsen the effects of jet lag.
Frequent travel: Flight staff or business travelers may have more symptoms if they are constantly changing time zones.