Long-Haul Flights|Avoid Jet Lag Disorder|Cures and Wise Tips

By Research Writer:  Margaret W. Lavigne 


What is Jet Lag? 

The cycle of circadian rhythm is based on and influenced by the cycles of sunlight and darkness. West to east travel is considered the more adverse as it pushes the cycles forward. Jet lag can be further induced by travel to areas of extreme darkness or sunlight, such as traveling to the extreme northern or southern regions of the world. Anxiety or nervousness can worsen symptoms of jet lag.

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According to Dr. Prathibh, our bodies have an internal body clock situated in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in which is located in the hypothalamus in the brain. Our internal body clock spontaneously generates the circadian rhythms that regulate functions of our bodies, including hunger, hormone production and temperature control.


Long flight disrupts our internal body clock. The more time zones crossed, the more likely you are to experience jet lag. Jet lag often occurs when you cross two or more time zones. Generally, the elderly take more time to recover from jet lag than teens.


Jet lag occurs when we ask our body to sleep, eat, and be awake not in sync with our internal circadian body clock, leading conflict between the mind and body and a number of physical ailments, such as sleep problems, fatigue,  indigestion,  and reduced mental and physical performance (Reference: Jamie Zeitzer, an assistant professor at Stanford University’s Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine) 

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Jet Lag| Prevention Tips

#1: Gradually shift your circadian clock to the new time zone a few days before flying. If you’re traveling east, go to bed one hour earlier for a few days before departure. Conversely, go to bed one hour later for days before departure if you’re flying west.


#2: Eat on a local schedule proved to alleviate the symptoms of jet lag. For instance, if you are flying to Portugal, shift your diet time to Portugal’s time zone. (Reference: researchers from the University of Surrey found in a 2018 study).


#3: Exposure to bright light is powerfully effective to reset the circadian rhythm. Go outside and get some sunlight will help your body transition to the new time zone. Also, you may consider using bright lights, such as a light therapy box,  to treat Seasonal Affected Disorder, namely, winter depression.


Jet Lag|Health Risks 

Frequent flyers do experience increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and even cancer, according to a 2009 study co-conducted by Eastman and published in Sleep Medicine Clinics.


Insomnia & Melatonin Supplement

Some people suffer from insomnia due to jet lag, especially the elderly. Take a melatonin supplement one hour before bedtime. If you fail to sleep due to jet lag, melatonin helps re-set the clock quicker. Nevertheless, melatonin is not advisable to be taken in the long term. Melatonin isn’t a sleep aid, but a hormone that signals darkness. Take it earlier in smaller doses before flying will be more effective. Consult your doctor before taking it.


Be aware of the fact that melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone which is easily suppressed by light. Do not use a smartphone before you hit the sack. Also, avoid food with caffeine during long flights. 



Recover from Jet Lag

Usually, it takes at least 48 hours for the body clock to re-adjust the time zone. Jet lag occurs to people who work night shifts, because of night shift counter against natural circadian rhythms.


Humidity levels are low in planes. Make sure you have enough water intake during the flight, or you might get slightly dehydrated.


Sunlight: Modulator

Sunlight is influential to our internal clock. Light exposure influences the regulation of melatonin. Our circadian rhythms are highly linked to the solar day that our internal clock is easily influenced by quantities and timings of daylight.


Darkness and Sleep hormone
Darkness releases melatonin, namely sleep hormone. The circadian rhythm of our body is strongly influenced by natural cycles of light and darkness.


Sleep Debt Is Unredeemable

Thus, night shifts result in decreased concentration, higher risk of chronic illness and poor sleep quality. Night shifts result in sleep deprivation and sleep debt. 


Health Risk of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation leads to physical and mental health problems, such as diabetes, mood swings and depression.



More Info 

  1. 9 Natural Ways to Cure Jet Lag by Expedia.ca
  2. How To Deal with Jet Lag [Travel Tips] | Brian Tracy
  3. Circadian Management of Travel and Jet Lag Steven W. Lockley, Ph.D. – PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Common Symptoms of Jet Lag

  • Disturbed sleep, such as insomnia, excessive sleepiness
  • Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea
  • Mood swings/ irritability


Working night shifts, or traveling long-distance leaves people completely tired and physically drained, which potentially lead to weight gain, headaches, insomnia, and mood swings or irritability.  Thus, there’s a term named jet lag disorder. Jet lag potentially causes gastrointestinal problems or even sleep problems.




  1. Ways To Prevent Shift Work Disorder
  2. Light, melatonin and the sleep-wake cycle
  3. Alaska Sleep Education Center |Blood Sugar and Sleep Problems: How Blood Sugar Levels Impact Sleep

  4. Rotating night shift work and adherence to unhealthy lifestyle in predicting the risk of type 2 diabetes
  5. Healthline|Can Diabetes Affect Your Sleep Schedule?
  6. LIVING WITH DIABETES: Diabetes and night shifts
  7. American Psychological Association: The risks of night work
  8. Time: Is Your Brain on 10 Years of Working the Night Shift
  10. Why do night shifts leave us feeling so exhausted?

  11. Jet lag disorder



Margaret W. Lavigne 


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Margaret W. Lavigne 司馬儀

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