What is it and what can i do to help?

We have all experienced it, the dreaded jet lag.  And with the Christmas period coming up its not uncommon for many of us to travel the world to be with family. So what is it and what can we do to prevent or minimise its effects! 

What is Jet lag? 

Jet lag is a temporary medical condition causing fatigue and insomnia post air travel through multiple time zones.  Our body has an inbuilt sleep cycle called our circadian rhythm, which is a 24hr pattern that cycles through arousal levels to provide us energy during the day and allow us to sleep at night. When we travel through various time zones often our circadian rhythm takes the brunt of the force and as a result, leaves us “ Jet lagged”. 

What can we do to help? 

Jet lag management often falls into the more preventative management rather than a cure. A number of steps can be taken to  help prevent your possible symptoms. Some of these are: 

  1. Stay active! Before during and after your trip! 
  2. Break up your trip! Try to add stops into your trip for a day or two to reduce any large changes in zones. 
  3. Move around on the plane! Not only will this help prevent other conditions such as DVT or blood clots but it is also a great way to keep your body active as you cross zones.  
  4. Use sleeping tablets wisely. Sleeping tablets act on the sleep center in your brain which may provide further challenges in your adaption to new time zones.  If your looking at the possible use get in touch with your GP to discuss! 
  5. When you arrive at your destination attempt to jump straight into their time zone rather than rest. Getting large exposure to sunlight will help reset your circadian rhythm  
  6. Small dose of coffee in the morning may also help to push you awake for a few hours while your body adjusts however should be reserved for morning us only as it may keep you up in the later hours or the night.  
  7. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. In the same sentence avoid alcohol as it may induce dehydration! 


Remember Jet lag is temporary and often does not require any medical diagnosis. If you are looking down the barrel at possible jet lag there are also apps available that can help you with the transition! Personal favourite must go to Timeshifter! It gives you a schedule of when to be in light when to have coffee and  when to sleep! Who wouldn’t love that! 


Happy Holidays! 

Mitchell Rabjones

Physiotherapist/ Exercise Scientist