NHS website

Jet lag

Find out what causes jet lag plus how to treat and prevent it.

3 October 2018


Jet lag is when your normal sleep pattern is disturbed after a long flight. Symptoms usually improve within a few days as your body adjusts to the new time zone.

Ways to reduce jet lag

Jet lag can't be prevented, but there are things you can do to reduce its effects.

If your trip is short (2 to 3 days) it may be better to stay on "home time".

If possible, eat and sleep at the times you would at home.

There's no treatment for jet lag

Medicines aren't usually needed for jet lag.

Symptoms often improve after a few days as your body clock adjusts to the new time zone.

Sleeping tablets may be helpful if you're having problems sleeping (insomnia) ↗. They can be addictive so should only be used for a short time and if symptoms are severe.

Melatonin is a chemical released by the body in the evening to let your brain know it's time to sleep. Melatonin supplements aren't recommended for jet lag because there isn't enough evidence that they work.

Symptoms of jet lag

The main symptoms are sleep-related. They include:

  • difficulty sleeping at bedtime and waking up in the morning
  • tiredness and exhaustion
  • finding it difficult to stay awake during the day
  • poor sleep quality
  • concentration and memory problems

Jet lag can also be associated with indigestion ↗, constipation ↗, diarrhoea ↗ and bloating.