Business travelers must take care of their health and safety to improve the effectiveness and productivity of their business trips. Managing jet lag is essential as it impacts sleep cycles and alertness during the daytime.

Many organizations use advanced travel management programs like Paxes to streamline travel programs and policy compliance. However, employees should follow specific guidelines or tips to stay focused and fit during business travel.

Long-haul flights and international air travel result in jet lag. The temporary condition affects air travelers who travel across time zones. Jet lag can have long-term effects on the health and efficiency of frequent business travelers. Keep reading to find out what is jet lag and how to counter its effects to enable smooth and productive business travel.

What is a Jet Lag?

Many first-time flyers wonder what is jet lag. Jet lag is a common condition many travelers experience after long flights that travel across time zones. It occurs because of a sudden change in the body’s circadian sleep cycle. Our body has an internal clock that controls all processes, including the sleep cycle, appetite, digestive functions, and blood pressure. A disturbed body clock is a typical answer to what causes jet lag. The circadian rhythm repeats every 24 hours by syncing with the surroundings.

Besides disturbance in the body’s rhythm because of a change of location and travel across multiple time zones, there are other causes of jet lag. It is difficult to catch sleep during the flight because of noise, cabin pressure, and light conditions. Jet lag symptoms are more severe if the individual is traveling eastward.

The body clock can absorb a time lag of up to one hour. However, it becomes harder for the circadian clock to sync with the external environment if the individual travels faster across multiple time zones. The human body clock cannot adapt to travel through time zones with speeds exceeding 600mph.

What does jet lag feel like?

Jet lag affects over ninety percent of air travelers who experience nausea, sleep disturbances, irritability, loss of focus, and disorientation. They may find themselves awake at 3 AM and hungry at odd hours. Lethargy, drowsiness, tiredness, and upset stomach are common signs of jet lag. These are temporary issues but can disturb business activities severely.

What are the symptoms of jet lag?

Symptoms of jet lag may be more severe if air travel involves crossing more time zones. Business travelers may experience one or more symptoms of jet lag with varying intensity.

  • Sleep disturbance– One may wake up earlier or find it hard to sleep at an appropriate time.
  • Lack of focus– Jetlag impairs the logical thinking process besides slower mental reflexes and blurring of memory.
  • Digestive problems– Jetlag affects digestion, causing loss of appetite, nausea, constipation, and stomach ache
  • Irritability– Jetlag can cause irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue– A feeling of weakness or discomfort is common in jetlag
  • Physical disturbances– Jetlag hampers several body functions impacting the drive or performance of sports persons.
  • Drowsiness– Jetlag causes daytime sleepiness, resulting in tiredness and drowsiness.

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Top tips to handle jet lag


Management of jetlag is essential, as you cannot eliminate the problem. Syncing the body clock with the new time zone is challenging, as business travelers must focus on business meetings after arriving at the destination. The following tips may be helpful if you are wondering what to do for jet lag management.

  • Prefer light meals– Having a light meal close to bedtime will facilitate sleep. It will also help avoid stress on the digestive system.
  • Melatonin supplements – These are worth trying, as melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone.
  • Block noise and light– Blocking noise and light helps improve sleep quality during travel. Prefer using good-quality earplugs and eye masks for better sleep on a flight.
  • Gradual sleep adjustment– Adjusting your sleep cycle before the date of departure will help the body’s internal clock adjust to the new time zone easily.
  • Restrict the intake of caffeine and alcohol– Caffeine and alcohol cause sleep disturbances besides causing dehydration. Avoiding or limiting intake during a flight can minimize the effect of jetlag.
  • Benefit from natural light– Exposing oneself to natural light after arriving at the destination will speed up syncing the circadian rhythm with the new time zone.
  • Sound sleep before the flight date– Sleeping late before the date of the flight can exacerbate the effect of jetlag. Getting adequate sleep for a few days before the flight date is crucial.
  • Hydration– Drinking adequate water every hour during the flight maintains proper hydration to reduce jetlag.
  • Keep yourself mobile– Moving around during the flight and taking a short walk after arrival are helpful strategies to adjust your body clock to the new time zone.


Sleep disturbance is a common effect of jetlag as it disturbs the circadian rhythm when a person moves across time zones. Jetlag impacts the travel experience and productivity of business travel. Frequent business travel across time zones can affect the overall health and well-being of employees. Jetlag reduces the efficiency of employees because of the symptoms. Taking a few proactive steps can help reduce the severity of symptoms of jet lag. Being patient and allowing the body to rest its clock naturally is a prudent approach to handling jet lag.

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Jet Lag FAQs

What is a practical way to counter jet lag?

Gradually shifting meal times and sleep patterns to the time zone of the travel destination a few days before the flight is a practical way to beat jet lag.

Can business class travel help avoid jet lag?

No. Traveling business class does not eliminate jet lag, as it does not affect the reaction of the body to new time zones.

Why does jet lag occur?

Jet lag occurs when the body cannot adjust to the new time zone, causing a disturbed circadian rhythm.

Can frequent travel make someone immune to the effect of jet lag?

No, travel frequency does not make someone immune to jet lag. It may improve the ability of the person to handle jet lag.

Do yoga exercises help reduce the effect of jet lag?

Yoga provides guidelines for simple breathing exercises and relaxing techniques. These can reduce stress because of jet lag.


Pratyush is a traveling enthusiast who always looks for innovations in business travel management. He has 5 years of experience writing content on corporate travel management and working closely with expert business travel facilitators.