Jet Lag Symptoms: Signs You Might Be Feeling the Effects of Jet Lag

You just traveled to a new timezone on a long-haul flight and you’re tired from a grueling travel day. 

Feeling sleepy after travel is normal, especially if you took a red-eye flight, but understanding how you feel after traveling to a new time zone is the first step to recognizing if you are jet lagged. 

There are more jet lag symptoms than just an overall feeling of exhaustion and being able to pinpoint these changes in your health are an important part of staying healthy on your trip. 

.Knowing these symptoms before they set in can help you beat jet lag and maintain your overall health while traveling.

Jet Lagged? Here Are 6 Jet Lag Symptoms (And How to Fix Them) 

#1. Trouble Sleeping

You finally get the chance to rest after a long travel day, but you can’t seem to fall asleep… and if you do, you can’t stay that way. That’s an unfortunate side effect of jet lag. 

Jet lag happens when your circadian rhythm or internal clock is disrupted by changing time zones. Now that you’re far away from home, you’re not sleeping at the same time you would be in your original timezone. 

Overtime, your body adapts to this new timezone, but in the meantime you’re still used to your original sleep schedule so you might wake up intermittently or not be able to sleep at the appropriate time in your new timezone. 

How to Fix It

If you’re struggling with this symptom, here are a few tips.

  • Take a natural sleep aid. If you’re having a tough time getting the rest you need, natural supplements like melatonin can help you get a full night’s sleep.

    Jet lag is an imbalance in your sleep hormones so taking melatonin can help your body adjust to this shift by acting as a natural sleep aid. FLIGHTFUD Inflight Elixir can help you get back to a night of restful sleep because it's made with the tart cherry, which is one of the most natural sources of melatonin.

  • Pack for sleep day or night. Before you get used to a new sleep schedule, you might need to stick with your internal clock for a few days to get the rest you need. That means you might be going to bed while the sun’s still up.

    Packing an eye mask and noise cancelling headphones can help you create your own nighttime scene that will give you the chance to sleep even though the sunlight is still creeping in. 

#2. Day-Time Fatigue

It’s time to explore your new destination, but you’re not feeling very adventurous. Instead of sitting down at new restaurants and interacting with new people, you would rather lay in your hotel bed and take a nap. 

Even though the sun's up and it's time to be productive, your internal clock is telling you it’s time for bed. Your body is trying to get used to the change in daytime hours so jet lag can leave you feeling tired even though you should be just starting your day.

How to Fix It

If you’re struggling with this symptom, here are a few tips.

  • Staying hydrated can give your body a boost of natural energy when you start to feel sluggish on your trip.
  • Just like drinking water, fueling your body with healthy foods gives you an added natural energy source when your sleep levels are low.
  • Drinking just a little caffeine can also give you a boost day-time fatigue sets in. Avoid drinking too much might get you off track from your overall goal of adjusting to a new time zone.

You May Also Read: Travel Fatigue Explained: Signs, Symptoms & Causes

#3. Trouble Staying Focused

Being alert when you travel is key to a successful trip, but your head might feel like it's in a fog when it comes time to get things done. Adjusting to a new time zone takes a lot of physical energy but also a lot of mental energy as well. 

You’re stressed out from not sleeping and you’re worried about getting your work done in a timely manner. This lack of sleep and added tension can make it hard for you to clearly focus on one task at a time. 

Stress is a key factor in jet lag so doing what you can to relax and avoid stress can help you feel less disorientated and more like your normal self. 

How to Fix It

If you’re struggling with this symptom, here are a few tips.

  • Taking the time to meditate toalign and prioritize your thoughts and can help you get your mind back on track to where it needs to be for your trip. 
  • Stretch out and breathe for a boost in circulation and for added relaxation that will help you relieve stress that might be taking a toll on your mental energy.
  • Doing small things to stay organized on your trip. Little steps like packing everything carefully before you venture out will save you from stress in each task you have to accomplish. 
  • Limit your work schedule when you first arrive in your new timezone so you’re not immediately overwhelmed with tasks when you land. 

#4. Mood Changes

You’ve been waiting for this trip for months, but suddenly you don’t feel as excited as you once were. You might feel less inclined to go out and enjoy yourself and instead you’re feeling lethargic. 

Little things going wrong with your trip might make you more irritable than usual as well. These mood changes might seem surprising and out of character, but they’re common jet lag symptoms that most people experience.

How to Fix It

If you’re struggling with this symptom, here are a few tips.

  • Understanding that mood changes are temporary can help you realize that you’ll be back to your normal self as soon as your body adjusts to your new timezone.
  • Try deep breathing to help yourself calm down when you feel your mood shifting to a more irritable demeanor. A few moments of peace can help you realize that it's just the jet lag making you feel this way. 

Unless you’re traveling to a sunny destination (Playa Del Carmen, anyone?!), you can also try supplementing with vitamin D.

#5. Bloating and Trouble with Digestion

Paying close attention to your gastrointestinal system is an important part of recognizing the symptoms of jet lag on your trip. Bloating is a common jet lag symptom that causes gas to build up in your stomach and intestines.

Your body is still trying to recover from a long-haul flight along with multiple changes in altitude depending on your new destination. This strain on your stomach and intestines can result in bloating and other troubles with digestion such as diarrhea or constipation. 

How to Fix It

If you’re struggling with this symptom, here are a few tips.

  • Try to use natural supplements that aid in digestion to give your body the extra help it needs to fight off jet lag.

    As a natural digestion aid, papaya is a rich source of the enzymes papain, chymopapain, caricain and glycyl endopeptidase that give your body a boost when it comes time to breakdown food. Papaya is a key ingredient of the Inflight Elixir which can help you combat any bloating or digestion issues that you’re facing due to jet lag. 

#6. Overall Discomfort

It’s hard to put into words, but you just don’t feel at ease in your new timezone. You’re uncomfortable and that might come in the form of tense muscles, headaches or irritability. 

There’s a lot of adjusting your body needs to do to combat jet lag so you’re left with an overall feeling of discomfort that isn’t a part of your typical day when you’re at home. 

This feeling of discomfort is a jet lag symptom that subsides overtime and is completely normal for you to experience even if you’re not used to feeling out of place when you travel. 

How to Fix It

If you’re struggling with this symptom, here are a few tips.

  • If you feel tense, try stretching or taking a short walk to relieve any muscular issues you may have accumulated while cramped on the plane. 
  • Do what you can to try and stick to your normal routine. Whether it's working or exercising, doing what you would do at home can help you feel like yourself again even though you’re in a new place and a new timezone. 

Know Your Jet Lag Symptoms 

Being aware of your jet lag symptoms when you travel can help you start taking the steps you need to beat jet lag on your trip. 

When you understand the physical and mental irregularities you experience after a long haul flight, you’ll be able to know when jet lag hits and start fighting back right away. What are some of the symptoms you notice when you’re jet lagged? Do you think there's anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments below. 

Also Read: Jet Lag: What It Is, Why It Happens & How to Beat It

By Kristine Auble

Kristine grew up traveling her whole life. Her mother was a flight attendant who took her from her hometown in Southern New Jersey to visit places all over the world. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a journalism degree, Kristine realized she never lost the travel bug. She became a flight attendant herself in 2018. She writes articles whenever she’s not in the air and hopes to make travel more manageable for anyone eager to explore the world like she is.

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