What Is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a real physical condition also called desynchronosis. It’s a temporary disorder when your body’s internal rhythms are disrupted by traveling across time zones. Your body has its own internal clock and regulates your body systems according to it. It’s called the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm of your body systems is coordinated by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. It triggers functions such a sleep, hunger and thirst. It reads clues from the environment such as darkness when it’s night and triggers sleepiness. It also affects other things including blood pressure, hormone levels and glucose in your bloodstream. When you travel across time zones, particularly from west to east (US to Europe), you can lose time and your circadian rhythm gets confused and “off” by some hours. The time it takes your body to adjust back again is called jet lag.
People think of jet lag as being tired in the day or insomnia in the middle of the night. But you can have other physical symptoms too. It can manifest as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, dehydration or headache. Emotional symptoms can include anxiety, irritability and confusion. The symptoms are the same for children as for adults.