Jet Lag - Direction of Travel

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Do you notice a difference in jet lag symptoms depending on the direction in which you travel? If so, explain.

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Does the direction of travel matter?

Yes. Travelers flying north or south in the same time zone typically experience the fewest problems because the time of day always remains the same as in the place where the flight originated. These travelers may experience discomfort, but this usually results from confinement in an airplane for a long time or from differences in climate, culture, and diet at the destination location. Time differences do not play a role.

Travelers flying east, on the other hand, typically experience the most problems because they "lose" time. For example, on an international flight from Washington, D.C., to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a traveler loses eight hours. Meals, sleep, bowel habits, and other daily routines are all pushed ahead eight hours.

Travelers flying west "gain" time and usually have an easier time adjusting than eastward travelers. However, they too experience symptoms of jet lag after landing because they still must adjust to a different schedule.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: jazz13, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 25

I went from Minnesota to Arizona and just experienced insomnia and constipation and was really sleepy during the day. I was gone for a week. The same day I flew home and I had mild insomnia, nervousness, and shaking hands.

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Comment from: Nana, 65-74 Female (Caregiver) Published: December 19

I did not experience jet lag going from West to East [U.S.A. to Europe]; however when I returned from Europe to America [East to West] I experienced confusion, tiredness, lack of appetite and over all feeling out of sorts. This was consistent with my experiences years ago when I would travel from Alaska to Maryland and return. Again, West to East: no jet lag; return East-West, I had jet lag.

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