Jet lag often occurs after long airplane rides, usually in a west to east or east to west traveling direction, when a passenger passes through one or more time zones. The symptoms of jet lag will vary according to the specific passenger, how far he or she has traveled, and what external conditions may have exacerbated the jet lag symptoms. A person suffering from symptoms of jet lag may not recover for several days, though most people overcome jet lag within a day or two after arrival at a particular destination.
Irregular sleep patterns and headaches are perhaps the most common symptoms of jet lag. People who travel from one time zone to another may not adjust to the new time change for several days, meaning the person will be awake at odd times and may feel tired during the day when he or she would normally be active. This may be due to the fact that the body and mind are used to the time schedule from the original time zone rather than the one to which the passenger has traveled. Fatigue due to the stress of traveling may also contribute to irregular sleeping patterns. Headaches can occur due to lack of sleep, dehydration, or stress, which are all common problems among travelers.
Other, less common, symptoms of jet lag that still occur fairly regularly in some travelers include diarrhea and even dizziness and depression. These symptoms can be caused by many external factors, including stress, a lack of sleep, discomfort throughout the traveling process, eating foods the body is not used to, using public restrooms and other facilities, and so on. Seasoned travelers fall into routines to counteract such symptoms of jet lag, and being prepared for these symptoms when they arise can make the trip much more pleasurable. Some symptoms are unavoidable, and the seasoned traveler will account for this by allowing for sufficient adjustment time upon arrival.
Exercising before and after traveling can help alleviate some of the symptoms of jet lag. Exercise stimulates blood flow and oxygen delivery, and it can help a traveler get some sleep during the traveling period or upon arrival. Eating right before and after the trip is also helpful. One of the most important ways to avoid symptoms of jet lag is to stay hydrated before, during, and after the trip, as dehydration can cause or exacerbate many of the symptoms.