What Causes Jet Lag?

Jet lag is a common sleep disorder suffered by many millions of travelers every day, whether traveling on business or for pleasure. In a recent survey of international business travelers, seventy four percent of those questioned said that they suffered frequently from jet lag.

Jet lag affects individuals of all ages, although its symptoms vary widely from person to person and are inclined to be more acute the older you get. Jet lag symptoms also tend to be worse if you are already suffering sleeping problems in advance of traveling.

Jet lag also increases with the amount of time zones crossed during your travels. If the time gap between your starting point and destination is only a couple of hours, then you are likely to experience little if any jet lag. However, as soon as your travel extends across more than three time zones you will start to experience the symptoms of jet lag, which will often worsen as the amount of time zones increases.

So what causes jet lag?
Jet lag is caused by a significant and rapid change in time zones that lead to a difference between the local time and the time recorded by the human body’s internal clock.

Let us say that you leave London at 11 o’clock on a Monday morning flying to Bangkok. The flight lasts twelve hours and you arrive in Bangkok at 11 o’clock that same evening London time. But because you have flown across several time zones at the local time in Bangkok is five o’clock on Tuesday morning.

From the time you’ve cleared immigration and customs and taken a taxi to your hotel, it is probably getting on for seven thirty in the morning and breakfast is being served at the resort. However, as far as your internal body clock is concerned, it is still only one thirty in the morning and your body wants nothing more than to crawl into bed.

Your body contains its own internal clock that takes its time in the surroundings responding to these things as temperature, humidity and, most importantly, the normal daily change from daylight to darkness. These environmental factors cause your body clock to operate, similar to your mantle clock, on a collection of twenty four cycles, often known as your body’s circadian rhythms.

Much as our own lives are controlled by time today, your body clock is also responsible for many of your body’s functions. In particular, your body clock tells your body when it’s time to close down for sleep and when it’s time to wake up and start the day’s activities.

By flying across several time zones and placing your body clock out balance with local time you upset the entire rhythm of your day, giving rise to these matters as problems sleeping at night, staying awake during the day and eating when you would not normally eat. This, then, leads to jet lag.