Jet Lag

Shift Work and Jet Lag

Did you know that working the midnight shift at your job can cause jet lag? Employees who work the midnight shift or other rotating shifts can experience the same internal biological clock disruption that causes travelers to get jet lag. While the symptoms of jet lag for travelers are usually temporary, they can be chronic and potentially dangerous for shift workers.

Jet lag is a disruption of the body's internal biological clock that occurs when people cross time zones.

What Is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is a common affliction that affects airplane travelers who cross time zones. The body's internal clock is set for the time zone in which a person lives. The light and dark schedule regulates many body functions, including when the body feels hungry and sleepy. In the past, when people traveled by train, ship, horse, or wagon, long-distance trips took months, during which time their bodies continually adjusted their internal clock. With air travel, however, it is possible to cross 8 or 10 time zones in a matter of hours. As a result, the traveler's body becomes confused. A person in the new setting may want to sleep even though it is early morning or may want to start the day in the middle of the night.

Minimizing Jet Lag

Minimizing Jet Lag
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (accessed August 4, 2015). Table by Cenveo Publisher Services. © 2016 Cengage Learning®.
* . The dry air on the airplane can contribute to slight dehydration * from not drinking enough water during the flight. Jet-lagged travelers may experience the following symptoms:

How Can Jet Lag Be Prevented?

Although there is no cure for jet lag, there are strategies that can help minimize it. During long flights, travelers should drink plenty of water, and get up and walk around the plane occasionally. It can also help to begin to adjust eating and sleeping schedules to the hours of the destination before the trip.

See also Insomnia • Sleep Disorders: Overview


Books and Articles

National Sleep Foundation. The Sleep Disorders. Arlington, VA: National Sleep Foundation, 2015.

Olson, Jay. “How to Prevent Jet Lag.” Scientific American (January 1, 2013). November 4, 2015).


American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Jet Lag – Overview.” (accessed October 18, 2015).

Mayo Clinic. “Jet Lag Disorder.” (accessed October 18, 2015).


National Sleep Foundation. 1010 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 310, Arlington, VA 22201. Telephone: (703) 243-1697. Website: (accessed October 18, 2015).

* insomnia is the inability to get adequate sleep.

* dehydration (dee-hi-DRAY-shun) is a condition in which the body is depleted of water, usually caused by excessive and unreplaced loss of body fluids, such as through sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Disclaimer:   This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.

(MLA 8th Edition)