Avoiding Jet Lag

One of the most common issues for a regular traveler is jet lag. It’s also one of the hardest to deal with if you don’t prepare ahead of time. Changing time zones can wreak havoc on your natural circadian rhythms, affecting your entire trip. I have been very lucky in that whenever I’ve traveled abroad, it’s been to either El Salvador (same time zone as Texas) or Manila (where the people I meet with work American hours). After some research, I have found some effective ways in avoiding jet lag, and if you readers have any tips I would love to hear those as well!

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I talk about this one a lot just for comfort’s sake, but keeping hydrated can help you avoid jet lag as well. Air on planes is drier than almost any place on earth, which can zap the moisture right out of your body. Drink 8-10 oz of water for every hour you’re on the plane.
  • Change your watch immediately. Once you get on the plane, immediately change your watch or phone to the new time zone. This will help you figure out when to sleep or stay awake on the plane.
  • Sleep (or stay awake) on the plane. If you are arriving in the morning, it is so important to sleep on the plane. There are a variety of aids, including Tylenol PM, melatonin, eyemask, white noise apps on your phone, ear plugs, blankets, pillows…. the list goes on and on. If you arrive at night and will be sleeping once you get to your hotel, do your best to stay awake on the plane. If you need to take a nap, try to keep it less than two hours.
  • Go outside. Once you arrive, if it’s daylight try to spend some time outside or by a window. Sunlight can do wonders for waking you up and setting your natural rhythms.
  • Before you go. If it’s at all possible, try to start resetting your internal clock before you go. Try getting up and going to bed an hour earlier or later, depending on where you’re going. Obviously, this isn’t feasible for everyone, but it can really help you get into that groove.

Readers, what are your favorite tips for avoiding jet lag?

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  1. These are great tips, especially setting your watch to the time zone you’re traveling to, definitely helped on my trip to Ireland. I will say though, sometimes jet lag gets the best of you and you fall asleep on a tour bus (not that that’s happened to me or anything . . .)

  2. Going East always gets the best of me. There is nothing worse than spending 2 weeks in Asia and then traveling East to the east coast.
    Rule of thumb is it takes the body 1 day per hour time difference to adjust. This is when the sleeping pills come out! The 12 hour time difference is brutal!

  3. Going West is not a problem for me but going East is the killer. This is particularly bad for late risers but red eyes make it far worse because you miss a good night’s sleep. I always try to get a departure that’s as late as possible which gives the most time for some sleep. I also, if at all possible, build a couple of hours in for a nap, either morning or early afternoon, at the destination.

  4. I feel like I have no jet lag I just arrived from FL to Italy 6 hour difference. I stayed up throughout the itinerary 24 hours total trip time with like 4 hours of naps total (on the plane and airports). I arrived here 5pm and stayed up until 10pm now I am up and feel great… hmm lets seee!

  5. I recently read that eating breakfast at the local time, then staying up ’til a reasonable bedtime, is the way to go. I haven’t had a chance to try it out, though…

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