How to Avoid Jet Lag

One Methods:At your destination

When you're flying across time zones, it can take your body a bit of time to adjust. In the meantime, you're graced with unpleasant ailments like fatigue, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, and more—enough to send you frantically searching for a jet lag cure. Fortunately, there are some effective things you can do to either prevent jet lag or to aid your recovery from jet lag once it sets in.


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    Prepare your body for the change in time zones. Every week, push your schedule one hour back or forward, depending on where you're going. The more time zones you're flying across, the earlier you'll need to start. This will give your body a chance to gradually adjust to your new time zone.[1]
    • If the time difference is several hours, however, it may prove inconvenient to spend your final week before leaving 3 or 4 or more hours ahead or behind everyone else. When you're traveling east, you're losing time, and when traveling west, you'll be gaining time. Alternatively, you can shift your eating and sleeping schedule by an hour a day.
    • Travel direction has some impact on whether or not you feel jet lagged. It is recommended that you try going to bed earlier a few nights before leaving if you're traveling east, but if you're traveling west, try going to bed later for a couple of nights.[2]
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    Stay hydrated. On the day of your flight, drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is one of the symptoms of jet lag, and the dry, cabin air on the plane doesn't help. Stay away from any beverages with alcohol or caffeine in them, as the side effects of dehydration can do more harm than good.[2]
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    Set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you begin your flight. This helps you to mentally prepare for the new time zone.
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    Sleep (or stay awake) like you're already there. If it's daylight at your destination, try to avoid sleeping on the plane.[2] If it's nighttime at your destination when you're on the plane, try to sleep. Use earplugs, eye shades, and turn on the air-conditioning valve (cooler temperatures may help you to fall asleep faster).
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    On a long flight, flat bed seats may be worth the upgrade. The quality of your sleep is far superior.
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    Ask your physician for short-acting sleeping medication if you are on a long flight. Many people find this is helpful.
    • If you'll be needing sleep while on the plane, try to book a roomier seat. In a narrow economy seat with little leg room, your body will produce an adrenaline-like substance to keep blood flowing up to your brain, which generally prevents you from being able to sleep. The availability of more leg room in first class or business class seats helps the passenger to sleep.
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    Eat like you're already there. Avoid eating airplane food, since it's generally served on a schedule that's consistent with the time zone you're leaving, not the one you're going to. If you're hungry, snack lightly until you arrive at your destination, and eat during what would be mealtimes there.

At your destination

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    Play or exercise, preferably in the sun. If it's daytime at your destination, spend as much time outside as you can. The exposure to sunlight will help your brain adjust to the new time zone.[3]
    • Remain active. Don't just go to your hotel room and sit in front of the television. If you desperately need a nap, take one only for 30 minutes. Any longer than that will make the jet lag worse.
    • If you're on a business trip, play may be out of the question. No problem; any exertion (for example, a brisk walk) will help, and doing it in sunlight will make it even more effective. Can't get outside? Open the curtains over the hotel window to let in as much sun as possible, and do some exercises in the room. Outside is best, but any exercise in bright light will help a lot. Be creative!
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    Eat light meals according to your new time zone. Not only is your sleep cycle adjusting, but so is your digestive routine. Large, rich meals will make it all the more difficult for your body to adapt, and symptoms like constipation and diarrhea will put a damper on your vacation.
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    Exercise early in the evening and in the morning. It'll help you get better sleep by tiring you out before going to bed (as long as you exercise a few hours before bed, so that the body has time to calm down) and it'll help make you feel more awake in the morning by getting your blood flowing.
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    Have a protein-rich breakfast the morning after you arrive. It'll help with alertness.
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    Consider taking melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone your body naturally creates around the time you usually go to bed. So taking it at the time you want to tell your body to go to bed, may help your internal clock to adjust to the new time zone.
    • If you take melatonin, the time you take it is crucial to the success. You will want to take it within 30 minutes of the time you want to tell your body is your new "bedtime." In other words, don't take it when you might want to sleep, but isn't the new bedtime you are trying to have your body adjust to. Take it for four days after arriving at your new destination.[4]
    • Talk to your doctor before taking melatonin, to be sure it's safe for you.


  • Have fun while you are being active it will help a little more.
  • The medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis. It's a good word for explaining your sleepiness in the business meeting you've flown to!
  • One side effect of jet lag is getting up in the time zone that you left. Instead of fretting over it, use it as some extra time by getting dressed and going down to breakfast earlier so that you avoid the morning rush. If you do this and you are in a place like Disney World, make the most of it so that you get extra time in the parks.
  • If possible, arrive at your destination a day early to help adjust to the new routine. This is highly recommended for those going to a high level meeting or going to a conference or meet-up that lasts several days or more.
  • Every person responds differently to jet lag depending on your own approaches to sleep, your need for sleep, your experience with travel, etc. Your ability to cope can also change depending on your age and lifestyle factors; for example, you may be able to cope well when you backpack around the world in your 20s, only to find jet lag knocks you out when traveling with children in your 40s, only to find in your 60s that it's all easy again without the pressures of work or children.
  • If you're flying only one or two time zones different from your own, you may find that you can skip experiencing jet lag.
  • If it's possible, consider adjusting a flight involving three or four time zones to include a stopover around the second time zone change. This allows you to get off the plane, rest, enjoy the sights of somewhere new and have a mid-way adjustment in the time zone changes.[2] Understandably, not everyone can afford to do this either time wise or financially but if it is possible, it is a nice way to ease into different time zones. It is especially good if traveling with children, who don't much like long haul flights anyway.
  • Most foreign airliners have lights on the aisle ceiling that dim and brighten so you'll know when to stay awake and when to go to sleep.


  • If you're staying for a short time, don't get too comfortable with the new time zone. When you go back home, you will have to adjust again, so don't change your sleep cycle too drastically.
  • Remember that if you change your watch before you leave, you may have some confusion if you have a layover in a different time zone. Make sure you know how long you have between flights to avoid missing a connection.
  • Before taking melatonin, ask your doctor if a melatonin supplement is appropriate for you, as it may be contraindicated with certain prescriptions and is not recommended for children under 10 [5] or people with auto-immune diseases.[6] For some people, melatonin may cause nausea, headaches, or make jet lag symptoms worse.

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