Ultimate Guide To Surviving Jet Lag 20 Top Tips

The part of travel that everybody hates, yes the dreaded  “Jetlag” – also called desynchronosis. Jet lag can happen to anyone regardless of how many times you have travelled whatever your age, fitness level or gender. Jet leg usually occurs where you cross more than one timezone and can leave you feeling awful. So what is Desynchronosis? It is essentially circadian dysrhythmia, which is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body’s circadian rhythms resulting from rapid long-distance trans-meridian (east–west or west–east) travel (source: wikipedia)

Symptoms Of Jet Lag:

  • Fatigue Disorientation 
  • Indigestion + gastric problems 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Memory and concentration problems 
  • Inability to sleep (Insomnia) 
  • Stress 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Heavy Limbs 
  • Mood changes 
  • Nausea 
  • General unwell feeling 
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches 
  • Body aches 
  • Restlessness 

So why does flying and crossing timezones play so much havoc on our bodies?

Studies have shown that the condition actually results from an imbalance in our body’s natural “biological clock” caused by traveling to different time zones. Basically, our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called “circadian rhythms.” These rhythms are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help determine when we sleep and when we wake.

When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it’s actually the middle of the afternoon, or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. This experience is known as jet lag. Working out how to prevent jet lag becomes significantly easier when we understand how our bodies work. Our bodies are naturally programmed to do a number of things throughout a 24-hour period, such as eating and sleeping. These built-in routines are known as circadian rhythms and flying across time zones disrupts these rhythms

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Jet lag? 

And if your next question is “how long does it take to recover from jet lag?” then sorry to disappoint you keen travel planners, but there’s no definate  answer. Jet lag affect’s different people in different ways. Jet lag effects can vary depending on our age, state of health and stress levels. Studies have found that it takes a full day to recover from each time zone you travel through.

 

We have put together the Ultimate Guide To Surviving Jet Lag 20 Top Tips below to help minimise some of your symptoms.

1. Chill Out Before Your Flight

Heading to the airport straight from partying the night away not always the best option, and for some people preparing for a holiday or trip can be stressful. Try and get everything is done a few days before your flight so you can relax prior to flying.

2. Sleeping Pills

Having to reply on sleeping tablets when travelling is not advisable. For some people they are prescribed and they have to take them, but if you can do without them that is a better option. Taking sleeping tablets can leave you feeling groggy and even worse when combined with jet lag. There are other natural ways to help you sleep, which we will discuss later on in this post.

NOTE: As will all medications both prescribed and over the counter please check with your general physician prior to taking medication.

3. Caffeine (Yes or No?)

It is best to avoid caffeine type beverages such as coffee, cola and energy drinks prior to and during flying. These artificial stimulants affect your ability to sleep and will inn turn affect your  jet lag recovery time. Your body functions best when it’s hydrated, so drinking lots of water is a great way to beat jet lag.

4. Melatonin

Some people have found melatonin to have be helpful with sleep. This hormone regulates your sleep rhythms and taking it can is said to help you adjust to your new time zones quicker. However melatonin is licensed differently in differently countries. In USA it is classed as a dietary supplement and in Australia a prescription is required.

NOTE: As will all medications both prescribed and over the counter please check with your general physician prior to taking medication.

5. Rock Those Shades

When  travelling sunglasses can be a useful accessory to have, to shield your eyes from the fluorescent lights and to stop your body from being stimulated from this type of lighting.

6. Cool Down

If you are flying when it is night time at your destination, try and get some sleep on the plane, accessories such as ear plugs, and eye mask are great to have to lessen any noise and shut out the light. Turn up the air con above your seat – the lower your body temperature is, the easier you will sleep as it is a cue for your body that it is sleep time. A higher body temperature – signals to your body it is time to be awake.

7. Upgrade and Enjoy

If you have any spare air miles or get a cheap deal, why not try and upgrade to business class and enjoy the cosy beds available.

8. What to Take On Board?

Here are a few items you can pack in your carry on to make your flight more comfortable.

  • Eye Mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Blanket (if you want your own, otherwise they are normally provided on board)
  • Travel pillow

 

9. Food

Airplane food is packed with carbohydrates, additives and is very processed, these can affect your jet leg recovery time. Try and avoid it if possible, by taking some snacks with you at times it cannot be avoided so ensure you keep well hydrated with water and minimise your caffeine intake. Taking a few herbal tea bags is a great way to enjoy a hot drink without the effects of caffeine. Consuming alcohol may make you feel drowsy, but it’ll also increase dehydration – which can exacerbate jet lag.

Tip:

Drink cherry juice! Cherries are known to regulate the body clock, as they are a natural source of melatonin. Two servings of cherries or cherry juice a day should help your body recover.

A general rule  to remember is protein will keep you awake and carbohydrates will help you to sleep. So when you reach your destination remember this.

10. Clothing

Travelling on airplanes can be uncomfortable, to ensure you get some rest try and wear clothing thats comfortable and where you won’t be too hot or cold.

The fix: Wearing loose, comfortable is essential and layering helps you remove or add clothing as the temperatures change.

11. Spray It On

My favourite tip for sleeping well on an airplane is to spray some lavender around you or on your travel pillow.

Try some of the ones recommended below.

12. Breathing Exercises 

If you suffer from anxiety or find travelling and flights stressful, try and practice some deep breathinng exercises. Air travel is associated with a drop in blood oxygen levels due to the low cabin pressure. You can find on the internet many deep breathing techniques you can try.

13. Get Moving

On arrival to your destination, if you have some time to kill before you head to sleep, try getting in some exercise, exercise can help promote sleep. Try going for a swim or using the gym.

14. Get Some Sun

As soon you get to your destination and you’ve caught up on some sleep, it’s important to get as much sunshine as possible. Research suggests that an absence of light causes a surge in melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy.

15. Time Zones

If you arrive at your destination at night try and head to sleep and if you arrive in the day try and stay awake to allow your body to sync to the new time zone you are in.

16. Change Your Watch

Once you get on the plane adjust your watch to the new time zone you are arriving in. This is a great tip to forget what time it is back home and gets you to adapt to your new time zone quickly.

17. Avoid Artificial Light

Turn off devices such as TV’S, laptops and phones at least 1 hour before going to sleep. If you are finding it hard to sleep try reading a book as this can help you feel sleepy.

18. Pick your arrival time

Another tip is to try and book flights where you arrive at your destination in the even got night so once you get there you can sleep, and wake up after a rested night of sleep in sync with the local time.

19. Split the trip

If you have a very long journey you could consider splitting the trip and stopping of at a destination en-route or you could even stop somewhere along the way and have an hour or two off the plane to stretch your legs.

20. Choosing The Right Seat

Try and book your flight in advance where possible so you can select the best seats to get. Some prefer to use a website + app called seatguru which shows you different seating plans for various aircrafts. Many prefer  the window seat so you have the side to leann onto when sleeping and to minimise people passing by you inn the aisle.

Do you have any JET LAG tips to share with our readers? If so please share them in the comments below please. 

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Showing 21 comments
  • Jyoti
    Reply

    These are really quite excellent tips! Thank you so much for putting them together. One other tip I would add is, fly business class on long hauls whenever possible. It helps tremendously. I’m sure find tips on getting business class for less eg use Air miles for purchase or upgrade. Use the same airline for all travels to help collect points in one account.

  • Angelo
    Reply

    Great tips you share in this amazing article, thank you very much for writing and sharing this great content, will be very helpfull.

  • Amy
    Reply

    I literally can’t travel without sunglasses! Haha great post 🙂

  • thehappinesslog
    Reply

    Really practical tips. They are quite helpful. I will try them the next time to avoid a jetlag.

  • Lauren
    Reply

    The sun, choosing the right seat, and getting moving are the three I resonate most with!! Even though I usually don’t experience horrible (or any) jet lag, I think a lot of it is because I’m so diligent with some of these tips. Or because I don’t sleep much when I’m at home, either… In any case, the only other thing I do is make sure I’m never hungry even if it means adding a meal to a day extended by time change – with meal times in order, everything else seems ok!

  • Perri
    Reply

    I have found that sleeping pills make jetlag worse and always try to get as comfortable as possible and drink lots of water. I like the tip about wearing sunglasses and will certainly try the lavender spray, that sounds like a great idea!

  • Reply

    Wow I had no idea about some of these! Like the food – I had no idea that airplane food WORSENED your jet lag! That’s kind of crazy to me. Also, cherry juice? So random, but I’d be about it :).

  • Leah
    Reply

    It takes us roughly a week to get over jetlag when we travel between Aus and England. I agree that forgetting about what time it SHOULD be is a great way to adjust quicker, and eat for your new time zone not your old one. Great post.

  • daniele
    Reply

    Thanks for your tips, everybody needs them 🙂 I personally have problem only with long flight but sometimes it happens also after a not-so-long but fully trip in which I try to see as much as I can in few days and that’s why it’s very stressing. I will try also with the breath exercises.

  • Hello Yeshi
    Reply

    These are amazing tips and I have done most of them and they work! Especially on the long haul flights. Clothing and food are so important when flying, and drinking plenty of water really does make a difference!

  • Julie Lim
    Reply

    I find that sleep helps alot to overcome jet lag. For example I try to sleep a lot during the flight. When I reach my destination I try to sleep at least 2 hours and everything is fine after I wake up.

    I’ll take your advice about the protein, carbs and cherry juice. Maybe I should pack some cherries in my hand luggage when I take a 13-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to London this September.

  • Varsha
    Reply

    This is a very useful list of tips for avoiding jet lag. I travel a lot and therefore always search for such tips. Some of your tips are unique like to keep cool, cherry juice, Lavender spray etc. Thank you for this list.

  • Per
    Reply

    This guide will definitely come in handy in the future. Sometimes, I have a terrible time trying to adjust to new time zones. Great tips!

  • Renata
    Reply

    Although it’s a great post, I think that every body is different and responds differently to travelling across time zones. And even for me it changed a lot from a little difficult to major chaos to no problem at all. My strategy? I roll with the punches – and for two or three nights I pop Melatonin.

  • Michelle
    Reply

    Great tips! Thanks for putting them together. I often try and fly out in the evening so I’m ready to sleep naturally when it comes to bedtime on long haul flights. It also usually means I arrive in the morning as I find it a good way of avoiding jet lag. I will be trying the lavender spray though next time I fly!

  • Kemi
    Reply

    Another tip which isn’t about combatting jet lag but relates to long haul flights is to move about periodically and stretch your legs and arms on board. Deep vein thrombosis could occur and a clot travel to the brain and be fatal, Heaven forbid. Great tips for jet lag sufferers. I’ve never really suffered from it (touch wood) considering that I’m such a nervous flyer that I’d need to be exhausted to actually fall asleep lol.

  • tif
    Reply

    This is a wonderful guide. I have used sleeping pills and that seems to help a ton!! But I wish i could upgrade and enjoy!? haha

  • gonca
    Reply

    I wanna add one more thing; my body gets swollen! It sucks:(

  • alice
    Reply

    Nice. I always struggle with Jet lag and I never looked into finding a solution. I’ll definitely keep this in mind next time I have a long flight. I love travelling but I hate sitting down for too long and the jet lag …

  • jen
    Reply

    Good thing i never suffered jet lags! I don’t even know why but i guess im just too excited about the idea of being in a new place that jet lag doesn’t seem to catch up on me. Even when flying home from the other side of the world doesn’t cause me any symptoms. That said, i suffer from dry skin from long flights though. Oh, maybe i drink a lot of ginger ale during long haul flights helped a lot too that why i never had jet lags.

  • Moimehr
    Reply

    I am a heavy sleeper, so I just read and sleep all throughout the flight. It helps a lot. Reading tires my eyes and sleep comes naturally. We generally take late night flights because most of the people around you also prefer just sleeping then. I have a wandering soul, I just can’t rest in the hotels at all, hence the moment I am out of the flight I can only be found on roads. But that’s only possible when you feel fresh. A great bunch of ideas to try out in the future. Thanks.

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