Jet Lag Symptoms: What Causes a Jet Lag Headache?
Also known as desynchronosis, jet lag is a temporary condition that results from traveling long distances across different time zones. This is a very common phenomenon among people who travel rarely, occasionally, as well as travelers who fly on a regular basis.
The purpose of this article is to discuss the jet lag headache and how jet lag can be a trigger for cluster headaches. It will describe the symptoms of jet lag, how the body is affected by time zone changes, and how sleep patterns can be disrupted and lead to excruciating cluster headaches.
Various Jet Lag Symptoms
Many people who travel across time zones feel fatigue and insomnia as a result of their travel. However, other jet lag symptoms include headache, dehydration, nausea, anxiety, and concentration difficulties. It is also possible to experience diarrhea, indigestion, and sleepiness during the day after moving from one time zone to another.
Jet lag occurs because the body’s natural circadian rhythm is disrupted during periods of rapid travel. This makes it more difficult for the body to know when it is time to be awake, asleep,
and engage in daily routines like meals and social time.2,3
Jet Lag as One of Many Cluster Headache Triggers
One of the most painful headaches that exists is the cluster headache, and this type of headache is often triggered by sleep pattern disruptions. Since long flights and travel across time zones often causes changes in a person’s sleep schedule, cluster headache sufferers are more at risk of experiencing an attack.
Cluster headaches typically occur in cycles, but the disruption in circadian rhythm caused by jet lag has been known to trigger a headache outside of these cycles in some people. This can be especially frustrating for long-time cluster headache sufferers who have gotten to know and predict their own cycles and plan ahead for them accordingly.1
Common Jet Lag Remedies
Once the feelings of jet lag set in, it can be difficult to make them go away more quickly compared to just letting them run their natural course. However, one of the best jet lag remedies is to get out into the outdoors and in natural sunlight to help the body’s circadian clock transition and adapt to a new place. It is also recommended to drink lots of water to keep the body hydrated and able to flush out toxins while the body adjusts to a time zone that is significantly ahead or behind the familiar one. Meanwhile, some people swear by melatonin supplements to synthesize the hormone that affects the natural sleep-wake cycle.2 Before leaving on a planned trip, it may also be helpful to shift your waking and sleeping hours to adjust to a new time zone gradually.3
References for Jet Lag Symptoms: What Causes a Jet Lag Headache?
2. Mayo Clinic. Jet Lag Disorder. Retrieved on Sept 3, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jet-lag/symptoms-causes/syc-20374027.
3. National Sleep Foundation. Jet Lag & Sleep. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/jet-lag-and-sleep.
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