This is due to the fact that your body is used to a certain schedule for sleeping. Also, when it comes to recovering from lost sleep, it’s not something that happens in one night. It can take days to fully recover and be as alert as norma.
It’s all in the rhythm
Let’s get a bit technical for a second. The rhythm, in this case, is your circadian rhythm. While it might sound like a musical beat, think about it as more of a cycle for your body. Being exposed to certain light cues, night versus day, and the amount of time you’re awake, plays into your circadian rhythm. These cues become embedded in your brain, and you get fairly used to the cues in your area.
When you travel on a long flight through different time zones, not only will you experience an alteration in your rhythm, but it can be hard to get back into rhythm even when you fly back home.
The symptoms that follow this break in the cycle, tend to be insomnia, fatigue and even stomach issues. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms after a long flight, or are currently battling them as you read, pay close attention to what follows.
As a bit of a side note, traveling to a country in Asia like Malaysia (from the United States), can also do some serious damage to your circadian rhythm. This is due to the fact that cultural differences, food differences, and time zone differences can really make it difficult to adjust. When you throw that into the mix, it can make jet lag even harder to manage.
So if you’ll be heading far to the west, make sure you factor those elements in as well.
Also, before moving on, please take into consideration that age and distance is a factor here. The older you are, the more potent jet lag may become. Jet lag can also be more difficult to manage when traveling abroad to Asian countries from the United States, due to the length of the flight.
The number of time zones you cross can be upwards of 5-7, which can really put quite a strain on your body when the plane lands.