Symptoms of jet lag 

The symptoms of jet lag can vary from person to person.

The severity of jet lag symptoms depends on the number of times zones crossed. A long-haul flight across one or two time zones (for example, from the UK to South Africa) should cause little jet lag, but there will be general travel fatigue.

Most people only experience the symptoms of jet lag after crossing at least three time zones.

Sleep disturbance

A disturbed sleep pattern is one of the most common symptoms of jet lag.

You may find it difficult to sleep at the correct times. For example, you may be awake at night and feel like sleeping during the day.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of jet lag can include:

  • indigestion 
  • constipation 
  • diarrhoea 
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling disorientated
  • anxiety 
  • irritability
  • memory problems
  • clumsiness
  • lethargy (lack of energy)
  • lightheadedness
  • confusion
  • headaches 
  • sweating
  • muscle soreness
  • irregular periods in women who travel frequently
  • generally feeling unwell

Symptoms can last up to six days for some people who've flown across nine or more time zones, particularly in an easterly direction.

Page last reviewed: 24/11/2014

Next review due: 24/11/2016