How to avoid jet lag

Top 10 tips to help you reduce the effects of jet lag

Humankind’s success in conquering flight has not come without cost, that of the dreaded jet lag. Anyone who is able to be in one location the other side of the world and then pass through several times zones to the other side will inevitably experience some difficulty in getting their body back to their normal routine. So, how do you avoid jet lag?

Almost everyone who travels by air, from passengers to pilots, is affected by jet lag. Jet lag disrupts our natural rhythms, confusing the ‘body clock’, which regulates the usual waking and sleeping hours.

Jet lag may affect physical and mental performance and the symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, disorientation, headaches, light-headedness and more. Medical evidence also shows that jet lag makes travelers more susceptible to illness such as colds, flu, and stomach upsets.

Jet lag can be especially bad if you fly from west to east, because it is more difficult for your body to adjust to ‘losing time’ when you journey east than to ‘gaining time’ when you fly from east to west.

Whatever steps are taken by the flyer, none will entirely eliminate jet lag. Jet lag is an individual thing which affects different people in different ways.

The following are’s top 10 tips to help you minimize the effects of jet lag:

  • Start changing your sleeping pattern a few days before you leave so that it more closely resembles time zone at your destination. Adjusting your bedtime by an hour a day will lessen the effects of jet lag.
  • Get enough rest in the days prior to your trip. Too many people start off tired before they have even begun, which just exaggerates the effect of any jet lag.
  • Reset your watch at the beginning of your flight so that you start to think in terms of your new time zone.
  • Drink plenty of fluid during and after the flight. Planes are notoriously dry and cause dehydration, and the common wisdom is that dehydration is a leading cause of jet lag. This advice also includes avoiding alcohol.
  • If it is night-time at your destination, then sleep on the plane. Conversely, try to stay awake during the flight if it is daytime at your destination.
  • Exercise as much as you can on the flight while you’re awake. Stretch your arms and legs and walk up and down the aisles to stimulate good circulation, which will help lessen the impact of jet lag later.
  • Learn from past experience on how your body has coped with a particular trip. Find the system that best works for you.
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills as they can in fact just make the jet lag worse.
  • Upon arrival, resist the temptation to flake out and have a nap. Napping reinforces the old body clock time, not the new one.
  • In some instances, jet lag may not bother people when they are away, but only when they return. In that case, all the same advice above should be applied in the same way as when the trip first began.

Comments (3)

  • deveritt 'i do not think its this complicated. i have flown for 25+ years every week and talked through it with air crew and doctors, medical and psycology. its 2 things. 1. our body clock is 25 hour, so we adjust 1 hr a day, every day, regardless. moving faster than the sun means we have to get back in tune. One or 2 hours a drift is Ok, so a 6 hour diff will be bearable on day 4 and at the worst on day 3. 2. We all need around 8 hours sleep per night. if you are tired then its harder to deal with #1. Sleep is accumulative, like savings in a bank. So repay what you missed asap to help cope with jetlag. example; up at 6am, CET. work all day til 4pm flight, flight 1 hour. 30 min snooze on flight. lay over 2 hours, the 10 hr flight. timezone change +6 to GMT. arrive 10am. Slept 4 hours on flight. Drank 2 litres of water, one wine and ate meals, no coffee. get tired address first so a) shower and to bed, set alarm for +4 hours and sleep b) alarms goes, force self up, shower and then go out for a daylight walk for an hour. Drink water and moderate alcohol. c) go to bed normal time Jet lag will be gone .... on return you arrive late eve, light dinner, water on flight, as its night just sleep. stay in sunlight for an hour around breakfast Magically it works. Dave '

    Report as inappropriate

  • twammers 'Hydration, exercise (although I'm sure people get fed-up with me 'squeezing' past regularly!) and staying awake when you're going to arrive in daytime seems to work for me. Sleep pretty well the first night after that and then it all settles down. I've only had to worry about flights up to 11 hrs max thus far but it seems to work out for me. happy flying...'

    Report as inappropriate

  • Roo1 'Will bear this in mind for my next holiday - hopefully it'll be soon - need some warm weather!'

    Report as inappropriate

You have been redirected to our desktop site

The page you were trying to access is not supported on mobile devices