How To Prevent And Reduce Jet Lag

Help you ease the intensity of your jet lag symptoms.


Traveling across multiple time zones comes with several challenges. Key of these is jet lag, also called jet lag disorder. The condition arises because the body has circadian rhythms, which act as an internal clock. These rhythms determine when you should sleep and when to stay awake.

Jet lag comes about because even after a long flight, your body remains synced to your home or original time zone and not your destination’s time zone. The severity of your jet lag will likely increase depending on how many time zones you traverse.

The condition may hinder you from performing optimally, especially if the reason for your travel is business or sports. Fortunately, there are several measures that you can put in place to help you ease the intensity of your jet lag symptoms. Broadly, these measures fall into three categories: the steps you take before you travel, a few you put in practice while on board, and the measures you adopt upon arrival.

Before Travelling

1. Rest properly before your trip.

This statement sounds a little cliché but you will be surprised how many people make rushed travel arrangements without incorporating enough periods of rest before traveling. According to the Mayo Clinic, leaving for your trip while sleep-deprived may exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag.

2. Adopt a smart schedule

There is plenty that you can do even before you travel that can help mitigate the risks of jet-lag.

  • Travel time – if the trip is to a far destination with a flight lasting several hours or more, then pick a departure time that most closely matches your sleep schedule. If you can afford to sleep on the plane or are able to, then go for it. If you cannot, then pick a flight that gets to your destination early enough so you can get into bed for an entire night’s rest.
  • Choose a window seat. If you do, chances are passengers making trips to the restroom will not interfere with your sleep.

3. Adjust your bedtime accordingly


Use the days ahead of your trip to synchronize your sleep schedule to the destination’s time zone. Ideally, allow for an hour for each time zone. It is important that you adjust your mealtimes as well, and adjust the lighting in your house to match the conditions at your destination.

4. Use common sense

Again, another cliché, but it is important. Avoid traveling while sick or while nursing a hangover. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake and instead exercise adequately and eat healthily.

During the Trip


1. Ensure you are comfortable

Sleep and rest will come to you more easily if you are comfortable. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. By all means, bring along some earplugs and a sleep mask to block unwanted distractions.

2. Be careful about what you eat and drink

Be gentle to your body since what you feed it will affect your sleep. Drink adequate water while on board since the humidity in the plane is bound to dehydrate you. Pack a few healthy snacks that you can nibble on when hungry, and keep off caffeine and alcohol if possible, or only enjoy in moderation.

3. Sleep strategically

Unless you are traveling at night, avoid sleep sessions lasting more than half an hour. Recline so you can stretch your legs, and keep the seat belt buckled above your clothes and blanket so that attendants do not wake you unnecessarily.

4. Stretch adequately

Stretch your legs by taking a short walk up and down the aisle during your flight, and flex your toes and feet whilst in your seat. Also, stretch and gently work out your arms and legs whenever possible.

On Arrival


1. Adapt speedily to the new schedule

Once you land in your destination, ensure you stay awake or sleep according to the new time zone. If your flight lands at night, go to bed immediately and if you arrive during the day then shun the bed altogether. However, if you have to nap, then ensure you do not sleep for more than two hours.

2. Make the most of the sun

Sunlight is great at resetting your circadian rhythms and helping your brain adjust to the right time zone. So, if you arrive in the morning, spend about an hour outdoors walking. If you can, engage in a light workout since doing could also help boost your energy.

3. Synchronize your social engagements

Meeting and socializing at local times helps the brain to easily realign to the local time. Eat when everyone else is doing so. It may be wise to stay off alcohol and caffeine for a day or two. Importantly, know that adapting to the local time may take a while, sometimes up to as many days as the number of time zones traversed if you travel east and half the number if you travel west.

That notwithstanding, you can manage jet lag well by adhering to these preventive measures.

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