Jet lag is a physiological condition caused by a disruption to the daily rhythm as a result of travel across multiple time zones. Previous, slower means of transport allowed the body to successively adapt to the time changes, but the availability of rapid, intercontinental flights means that in just a few hours, we can complete a journey to a time zone that used to take several weeks.
The body’s internal, biological clock is calibrated for the time when we normally sleep and work. When we fly long distances, we “take our old sleep times with us”. And because they don’t match the time in the new time zone, our sleep is postponed – we sleep, wake up, get hungry, and need to go to the toilet at the “wrong” time.
Jet lag can, therefore, give rise to disturbed sleep, increased tiredness, and reduced performance, and can also affect both our digestion and our moods.
There are various strategies on how to handle jet lag, depending on how far you fly and how long you will be away. The most common are to adapt to the local time, or to try and retain your original sleep time.
Sleep disorders and ADHD
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders in childhood and adulthood. It affects approximately 3%–5% of youth. In clinical practice, sleep problems are reported in an estimated 25%–50% of individuals who have ADHD.
In an affected individual, sleep disturbances that result in sleep restriction or sleep fragmentation can lead to excessive daytime fatigue and interfere with mood, attention, behavior, and physical health, all of which are critical for school/work performance and a good quality of life.
However, although sleep problems are very common in individuals with ADHD, comorbid sleep disorders are often overlooked and left untreated in ADHD populations.
- Wajszilber et al. Sleep disorders in patients with ADHD: impact and management challenges, Nature and Science of Sleep 2018:10 453-480