To what extent is circadian phase predictive of subjective jet lag in long-haul cabin crew pre- and post-trip?

Cristina Ruscitto*, Jane Ogden, Jason G Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-haul cabin crew regularly report misalignment between their circadian phase and the external world (i.e. jet lag). The extent to which changes in circadian phase relate to reported levels of jet lag remains unclear. The main aim of the present study was first to evaluate the relationship between objective (circadian phase) and subjective jet lag and second to explore the relative role of both subjective and objective psycho-behavioural factors in predicting the subjective experience of jet lag. Twenty-eight long-haul cabin crew completed questionnaires measuring diurnal preference, trip characteristics and subjective jet lag as a single and as a multidimensional measure. Sleep was monitored using actigraphy and urinary melatonin peak time was measured, at baseline (T1), e.g. before a long-haul trip and post-trip on the crew's first recovery day (T2). Subjective jet lag was also measured at both time points. At T1, later circadian phase related to increased unidimensional jet lag, however, a post-trip discrepancy was found between objective and subjective uni- and multidimensional jet lag measured at T2 and change from T1 to T2. After controlling for direction and size of circadian phase, increased uni- and multidimensional subjective jet lag was predicted by depressed mood states. The regression models including phase, diurnal preference, departure time on the outbound sector and arousal levels accounted for 28% of the variance in unidimensional jet lag and 53% of the variance in multidimensional jet lag. It was concluded that there is a discordance between objective and subjective jet lag post-trip. Further, subjective jet lag in long-haul cabin crew is better explained by mood impairment than circadian phase. The results are discussed with reference to the gap between subjective and objective jet lag and the role of psychology rather than just biology in the jet lag experience. The implications for improving health and safety in the workplace, through a better understanding of the role of human factors in the management of jet lag, are discussed. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number103882
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Early online date5 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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