How To Prevent Jet Lag On Long Flights


Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that occurs when a person flies across a different time zones. It can take our body time to adjust to the new time zone and many travelers suffer from insomnia, constipation, fatigue, confusion and much more.

There are many effective ways that travelers can prevent jet lag or utilize it to recover from it once it sets in. Here are 15 ideas to help you with jet lag which include advice from the Mayo Clinic, National Sleep Foundation as well as remedies from experienced travelers.

Before Flying

prevent jet lag with a pillow and headphones

  1. Prepare your body: We all know that eating right, having a good night sleep and incorporating an exercise routine are beneficial for our bodies and healthy well-being. To reduce or lighten the effects of jet lag, you should follow the above guidelines to help you feel good. Experts suggest that the better a person feels overall, the lighter the jet lag will be.
  2. Gradually transition your bedtime: Travel experts recommend changing sleeping patterns little by little to your destination time zone before the departure time. For example, if you are planning to travel east – go to bed one hour early each night for a few days. If you are heading towards a western zone, then try going to bed an hour later than your usual bedtime for a few days.
  3. Pack a pillow: Of course, you can’t take your mattress on the airplane, but you can take your pillow which might help you settle down on the airplane as well as at your destination.
  4. Headphones: Earplugs or headphones can help reduce the outside noise and help many nod off on the plane. Many people also suggest using sleep masks to help sleep well especially on the plane ride.
  5. Say “no” to parties the night before departing: The night before travelling, you should check that all your packing is done and you have kept all essential items such as your electronic gadgets, passports, necessary medicines, hotel reservation cards, etc. It is wise not to indulge in any bon voyage parties where your friends raise a toast to your travels. Having a hangover during your journey will only contribute to your jet lag, not reduce it.

During The Flight

airline meal to avoid jet lag

  1. Set your watch: Move your watch ahead or behind (depending on the time at your destination) to become mentally prepared for the new time zone.
  2. Watch what you eat: Many tourists consume extra alcohol, overeat and take excess coffee during the flights and on vacations. Avoid the habit and snack lightly during the flights.
  3. Stay hydrated: Dehydration is one of the main symptoms of jet lag and can worsen the disorder. Drink plenty of water and again, avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages that contain caffeine.
  4. Try to sleep: Use the earplugs or eye masks that you packed and try to sleep on the long flight especially on those that arrive in the morning.
  5. Try exercising. It can be difficult to perform yoga moves on the plane, but try to take walks down the aisle but take caution that you don’t disturb the airplane meal service and the seat belt signs are switched off. Make sure to buckle your seat belt when you return back to your seat as turbulence can come out of nowhere.
  6. Diet: Many experts recommend fasting for 12 to 16 hours before breakfast at your destination time. Others suggest the Anti-Jet-Lag Diet which was conceived by a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The diet calls for an alternative routine of feasting one day and fasting the other before the departure. The Mayo Clinic says that no such diets have been proven to be effective against jet lag, but you can give it a try but make sure to consult your doctor first.

At The Destination

go barefoot to avoid jet lag

  1. Don’t try adventurous trips on the very first day: It is better to take part in light activities on the first day but don’t rest too much or it will make your jet lag worse.
  2. Sync with your local time: To help adjust better, stick to the eating and sleeping routines of your destination time zone. A friend who is a frequent flyer to The UK from the USA says that she mixes herself up with the local crowd as soon as she reaches. That means no afternoon naps, eating at proper times, and sleeping at 9 p.m. – just like the locals.
  3. Soak up the sun: spend as much time outside as you can. Experts of the Sleep Foundation say that the sunlight helps the brain adjust to the new time zone.
  4. Barefoot: Experienced travelers suggest standing bare feet on the ground, grass, or sand and wiggle the toes for a while. We don’t know if it works –but it is worth a try.

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