Jet Lag – 14 Top Tips on How to Beat it

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Jet-lag can be a killer, the more time zones you cross the worse it gets. I recently have been researching ways to minimise the awfulness of it in advance of an upcoming long-haul trip to Japan and Korea.  It seems like it may be impossible to avoid jet lag completely but there are ways to  make the symptoms more manageable.

What causes Jetlag?

Basically, it’s all about your body’s Circadian rhythms, which can disrupted when you cross time zones and need to adapt to a new light-dark schedule. Unlucky for me and my Japan trip the effects are usually worse when travelling east.

So what should you do? I have divided the tips into pre,  during and post travel.

Before you start your journey

1. Plan to arrive during the day

If possible avoiding arriving at night, daylight is your top jet-lag fighting friend. So if possible book your flights to arrive during the day.

2. Get a good night sleep the night before.

I know this can  be tricky what with pre-trip excitement or super early check ins but last minute changes to your routine make it harder to adjust to the new time zone. So try to get 8 hours if possible, it will make it easier when you arrive.

3. Relax your Schedule and Anticipate the new timezone.

If your everyday schedule if pretty rigid usually, try loosening it a few days before your trip. Get your body ready to be a bit more flexible with its routine. You can also anticipate your new schedule and adjust your bedtime a couple days before  (but not just the night before as per tip 2) to get your ready, e.g an earlier bedtime if going east and a later one if going west.

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During the flight

4. Switch to vacation time ASAP

Change your watch and habits to the time zone of your destination as soon as you  board the airplane. Make sure you eat and sleep at the correct times for your new timezone, even if these means dinner when your body is craving breakfast.

5. Avoid the Bar

This tip comes up a lot and I’ll be honest I am rubbish as following it. I love a wee in-flight red wine or a beer at the gate (or if you are lucky Champagne in the Lounge). However, alcohol does increase tiredness and dehydration, so it is a habit to break.

6. Say no to Caffeine and Sleeping Pills

These two are clearly at different ends of the spectrum but avoiding stimulants and sleeping pills will help your head stay clear and beat the jetlag blues.

7. Keep moving

Stretch your legs  where possible as moving your body mid- journey will keep the blood flowing. I hate the walking up and down the plane aisles but I do love a stretch while waiting for the bathroom.

8. Eat well

As with all things in life, eating better always makes you feel better.

Also, think about what you eat, if you want to sleep, maybe have richer carb filled dishes that encourage sleep, whereas if you need to stay awake go for lighter options.

9.  Drink lots of water

I think this is probably one of the top tips. Fight the dehydration by drinking lots of water throughout your flight. (If it makes you pee then it is a chance to exercise as above).

10. Moisturize

I love a bit of skin care and find moisturizing mid-flight helps me feel less dehydrated and more like a real person when flying. I usually pack a mini face cream and hand cream to apply at the start and end of the flight.

On Arrival at your Destination

11. Go outside and seek out the sun

Natural light will help your body adjust, so get out and see your destination. It will make your feel better.

12. Try not to nap when you arrive

I battle with this one as I have rubbish self-control when tried but in the long run it is better to stay in line with local time. So no going to bed before 9pm!

13. Make a plan

With  that said, if you are tired it can be hard to get motivated. So plan what you are going to do on arrival. Then you just have to enjoy and no decisions.

14. Anchor your sleep

Try to get at least 4  hours sleep in the local night on your first evening there, this will help set you up for the rest of the stay.

Have I missed a tip you swear by? If so please let me know if the comments below or tweet me @eatcheesetravel

I have started a Facebook page for Eat Cheese & Travel, please stop by and give me a like.

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14 comments

  1. I live in Australia and we travel a lot. Living so far from every other continent means that jet-lat is a constant companion. I agree with almost all your tips except two. Sleeping pills help enormously. They help on the aeroplane to sleep when your body doesn’t want to and they help a huge amount for the first few nights after you arrive. When your time zone has been turned upside down they are almost the only way to get a decent night’s sleep. The trick is to wean yourself off them after a couple of days otherwise they form a habit very quickly. I also find that the main issue with jet-lag is just plain lack of sleep so if you need to go to sleep at 7 pm just do it. If you wake early you can always use the time to get the jump on the other tourists.

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  2. I don’t quite agree with your first tip. First of all, the jet lag hits you harder when traveling east than west. Secondly, unless you travel first class and can get a decent sleep for 5-6 hours on the plane, there is no way you’ll be able to keep your eye open when you arrive in Europe from California. Believe me, I’ve been doing it every year for the past 25 years. If you arrive in the evening, you’ll be tired enough to sleep, even though is day time where you are coming from. It usually takes 2-3 days to adjust to the new time zone. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  3. I always try to arrive at a destination during the day or in the late afternoon so that I can sleep at night local time. About time zone difference, I have no idea why some friends like to do this mental calculation “If I sleep now, it’s xxx time back home” – it just messes with the internal body adjustment to a different time zone etc! Thanks for sharing the tips – great post! 🙂 #FarawayFiles

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  4. I usually do not feel the jet lag when I arrive at a destination. I tend to arrive early or midday and stay awake until it is time to sleep on the destination (not easy but I do it). The next day I wake up fine. Now, I really feel the jet lag when I am back home. It takes about a week to go away and to be honest, I have not found a way to get rid of it. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  5. Good list of things to try. We start altering our schedules to the upcoming time zone about a week before we travel. We’ve also heard recently to try changing meal times to the new time zone, too, to get your body used to it. We’re going to try it out! Thanks for sharing with #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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