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Desynchronization of biological rhythms after moving from one time zone to another. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of concentration, sleep disturbances, malaise, sluggishness, disorientation, gastrointestinal upset, and loss of appetite. Jet lag reflects an interruption of normal light and dark cycles, which influence secretion of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin plays an important role in regulating the circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness; because melatonin secretion occurs in response to light-dark cycles, carefully timed exposure to small amounts of light can have a dramatic effect in alleviating jet lag. In addition, melatonin supplements can be used to accelerate the resynchronization of the body clock to a new time zone. Duration and severity of jet lag depend on how much distance is covered in how little time. Travel by jet, after which the phenomenon may persist for some days, first brought the condition to notice, accounting for the name.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on jet lag, visit Britannica.com.