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Abigail Franke

Homer, Alaska

Jet lag - what's your trick?

I've heard all sorts of things about the best way to handle jet-lag. From changing your meal schedule to match that of the place you are about to visit/adjust to... to taking short naps so that you never get exhausted no matter what time zone you're in.

I am planning to travel from Alaska to Dubai...

Any tips?

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14 Answers

  • Michelle Dunner

    top answer by

    When you travel out of Australia, pretty much everywhere is long haul and has a jet lag factor. While travelling west seems to be a little easier on my body than east, these are my tried-and-true remedies.

    Something to help you sleep on the plane, particularly if it's an overnight flight. I know everyone says to set your watch to destination time and try to sleep when it's 'night' there but that's never worked for me.

    If you arrive during the day - get out and walk. Try to get as much fresh air as you can and natural light. If you must nap, set an alarm and restrict yourself to no more than an hour. Then get up, get out, walk about.

    As you're settling in to the new time zone, try something like Advil PM, if you can tolerate it, to help you get to sleep at the usual time. When I'm travelling west, the worst of the jet lag tends to be over in a couple of days. Travelling east, as I said, it takes a bit longer for me to adjust.


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  • Daniel Roy

    answered by

    There isn't a surefire trick to fight jetlag, but with some practice you can definitely lessen its impact. In my opinion jetlag is mostly a psychological battle, in the sense that you can more easily overcome it by playing a few tricks on your mind.

    Here are the things I've learned to do that help with jetlag:

    • Make sure you are well-rested before your flight. You're going to be sleep-deprived for two or three days once you arrive, so it's a good idea to sleep enough. (Not always easy when you're stressed about your upcoming trip, I know.)
    • As soon as you're on the plane, change your watch to your destination time zone. Forget about what time it is back home! You absolutely don't want to walk around at noon and think "I'd be going to bed back home right now." That's counterproductive to resetting your internal clock.
    • On the flight, sleep if you can, but don't take medication to help you sleep. Most likely you'll sleep a little but not enough to be fully rested.
    • Once you arrive, resist the temptation to take a nap. Your body doesn't need a nap, it needs to sleep and it will mess you up if you go to bed.
    • Keep yourself busy on the first day. Don't stay at home or at your hotel, because the temptation to sleep will be too great.
    • Take in the sunlight as much as you can. Daylight is essential to resetting your body clock.
    • Eat your meals at the normal times for your destination. If you're not hungry, just eat a little, but eat something. Take meals that are appropriate to the timezone you're in. For instance, resist eating breakfast in the evening.
    • When it's night time at your destination, go to bed, and avoid using bright screens in bed. You might not sleep right away, but it's important to try and go to bed when you're supposed to.

    If you do all of the above, you'll probably feel groggy for the first 48 hours, but you should feel adjusted and refreshed on the third. The second day is actually the hardest, even if you had a good night's sleep the night before. Just hang in there, hold off going to bed until nighttime, and after two nights your body clock will reset.

    I recommend using melatonin to help reset your body clock. I've had fantastic results with it. Just take some before going to bed when it's time and it'll help you sleep through the night. For me, melatonin makes the difference between fidgety sleep and proper, restorative sleep.

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  • Sean Kelly

    answered by

    Hi Abigail,

    Jet lag is a real pain in the butt. I've had it twice on what were relatively moderate flights (Nashville & Chicago to Boston). I decided I was going to figure out how to beat it. After a few years of trial and (very few) errors, I've got it licked. I've since flown repeatedly from San Francisco to Boston, and New York to London without a hint of jet lag.

    Daniel Roy is on target with his advice. However, I'd like to put some fine points on what he's already suggested.

    Start your journey well rested. Be ready to step on the plane a full 24 hours before you flight. You want to avoid running around like a maniac the day before your flight taking care of last minute details. Even if that means running around like a maniac two days before your flight, it's well worth it. You want to make the day before your flight a peaceful as possible.

    This extends to your job also. If you're working on a special project, or have a lot of tasks that need to be completed before your trip, see that they're done 24 hours prior to your flight. Even if it means putting in some OT earlier in the week, it's worth it.

    Get as good a night's sleep as you're able the night before your flight.

    A good friend of mine ignored all of this. He worked until late in the evening the day before the flight, began to prepare the day of the flight, and was on the phone and dialed in to work until we stepped on the plane. When we got to London it was my turn to ignore him, for three days, while he suffered from a jet lag unlike any I've ever seen. Eventually, we left him on a double-decker tour bus, asleep, and met up with him later at the hotel.

    Reduce as much stress to yourself as possible. This is important for both mind and body.

    Confirm all of your reservations 24 hour before you depart.

    If you're not checking in your bag, make sure it meets all requirements for size and weight. Check you airlines web site.

    Check the TSA web site to make sure you're not carrying anything recently prohibited. Pack in such a manner that you can get to you electronics, and liquids easily. Speaking of liquids, make sure all your liquids and gels comply with the TSA's 3-1-1 rule (again, check their web site). Freaking out at a security checkpoint only leads to stress, and possible cavity searches.

    Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check-in. I know a lot of people don't like to sit around with nothing to do at an airport. TOO BAD!! I was attending a wedding in San Francisco with a friend some years ago. Knowing his tendency to run late, I told him I'd meet him at the airport. Check-in was swamped when I got there. I just finished checking in when I looked at the door and saw him entering the terminal. Looking at my watch I saw he had 20 minutes to do what it just took me an hour to accomplish. So, I pretended I didn't see him, turned, and walked to the security check point.

    Also, where friends are concerned; If you're getting a ride to the airport from a friend, say "thank you" and "goodbye" and go! If you have friends who are hell bent on giving you a big send-off at the airport bar, tell them to meet you there about 24 hours after you flight has left. As good an idea as it is to lay off alcohol when flying, it's an equally bad idea to 'party hardy' before you fly.

    Eat light. I usually eat whatever I want when I travel. However, before I fly I avoid all sorts of things. I avoid fried foods, gassy foods (beans, broccoli, ect), fast food (well, actually, I usually avoid them) and heavy foods. I usually just eat salad, and have water with it. Then, I get off the plane at my destination and do my locust impersonation.

    You're at your destination as soon as you step on the plane. Before the plane even starts to taxi, set you watch to the time of you destination. Look at it from time to time and remember, That's what time it is. It doesn't matter if you got on the plane just after breakfast; if it's dinner time at your destination, that's what time it is. One traveling companion kept telling me what his family and girlfriend back home were doing every 15 minutes. That is until I turned and yelled, "WILL YOU SHUT THE F*** UP". Then he agreed to stop.

    Use the plane for what it's best for; REST. I have a routine I follow when getting on a plane. I stow my bag, then I use disinfectant wipes to sanitize the area. Seat belt buckle, seat tray, arm rests, window shade, attendant signal and air control; I wipe 'em all down. Then I set the air laser (you know what I mean) to blow gently as possible in front of my face, rather than on it. Recent studies suggest this actually creates a relatively germ free area near you.

    Pay attention to the safety announcement. Then, once the plane takes off, put in your earplugs (of headphones), put on you jacket (or blanket), loosen your shoes or put on your slippers, beak out your neck pillow, put on your sleep mask (or whatever eyeshades you use), recline you seat (slightly) and relax. Don't try to force yourself to sleep; just relax. Sleep will come in time. Forget the beverage service; forget the crappy meal service, and forget the stupid movie you can watch on Netflix next week.

    Be defiantly normal. When you get to you destination, carry on as if it's a normal day. After you've checked in, get out and walk around, especially if it's sunny. Jet lag is like a vampire; it hates the sun (and fresh air). Eat lunch, or dinner at the appropriate time.

    Stay awake until a normal bedtime. I'm something of a night owl, but my first day in country, 10:00 is late enough for me.


    What doesn't work for me.

    I'm not a fan of napping. It throws your bodily clock off, and really doesn't provide the rest you think it does. Another friend of mine naps every time they travel. Hanging out with them the first day in country resembles the last scene from Shaun of the Dead.

    I'm also not a fan of sleep aids, in spite of the fact I've dealt with insomnia most of my life. Sorry, but the only decent sleep is natural sleep, to me. Essentially, you're drugging yourself. I don't want to hear about it being a natural product, either. Hemlock is natural, So is belladonna. In fact, there are countless mushrooms that will kill you dead, and they're all natural!

    I've never encountered a "jet lag cure" worth the ink on the package. Most don't do a damn thing; and that's if your lucky. Every now and then a friend of mine offers me the latest in jet lag cure technology, and I always decline. He takes it, though. He then experiences nausea (if not outright vomiting) to the point where I'd rather be sitting the waiting room at a major metropolitan methadone clinic.


    In closing I'd like to say this; jet lag is not as big a deal as so many people make it out to be. Most often, the reason people experience severe jet lag is because they went out of their way to do so. I know I have!

    Don't worry about it, Abigail! Focus on the excitement and adventure of you trip. With just a little preparation, temperance and relaxation I'll bet it won't an issue for you either.

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  • Pawan Choudhary

    answered by

    get a foot massage as soon as you reach the destination))

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  • Sarah Goth

    answered by

    I thankfully don't suffer from jet lag too too much, but wherever/whenever you land, I recommend staying awake as long as possible and not going to bed until at least 8PM local time. If you can get in just a few hours of sleep at a time, that's okay. If you have to take a nap during the day before 8PM rolls around, make sure that nap is less than an hour.

    I usually don't take any medications to help regulate my schedule and that's worked very well for me. My last trip I had three straight red eyes to get from Vietnam back to Milwaukee and took dramamine and a glass of wine, which works for me. I actually slept completely through my trans-Pacific flight - and it was amazing.

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  • Phil L

    answered by

    Traveling from the West Coast to Europe I use a product called No Jet Lag. It comes from New Zealand and contains only natural ingredients. I do not sleep on the aircraft, a slight doze but nothing more. Set my watch to European time, do not drink and eat lightly. I do stay awake once I arrive and try and go to bed at my normal time. I find that No Jet Lag is of great help to me, however flying from the East to the West it does not seem to work as efficiently for me. Flying from North to South ie Asia it works ok, and coming back it seems to work also. On an overnight flight from Asia back home to the West Coast I do take a prescribed sleeping pill which lets me sleep for about 6 to 7 hours, this does help.

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  • Rob Chopra

    answered by

    5 Hour Energy (Upper) and Melatonin (Downer) ūüėŹ

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  • Jane Jobim

    answered by

    So simple!! Don't eat during the flight! I was modeling for 15 years and traveling across the world. Believe me, it works pretty well. If you can, of course.

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  • Keith Connolly

    answered by

    There's all kinds of anecdotal ways of dealing with it. However, the one thing that works every time for me is melatonin. Especially with a good workout (I like to workout ASAP -- if possible, even if it's just a quick run).

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  • R A Brooks

    answered by

    Many good tips already. If you want another "scientific" answer, the people who study jet lag talk about the effect of bright light (through our eyes) on the pineal gland, which helps us adjust to our time zone. Their suggestion is to try NOT to visualize any bright light before 10a in the NEW time zone, and to maximize bright light exposure from 10a to 4p in the new time zone. (So, when the flight attendants come around early in the morning and raise the airplane window shades, that doesn't help--put on your sunglasses.) The preceding answers reinforce this theory: don't go to sleep or nap right away, do get out and walk around in sunlight, and try to stay awake in the new time zone until 8p or later. A funny note: the people who study jet lag have been known to try to go through customs with welders' helmets on-- the helmet eye shield cuts out bright light until the 10a-4p interval, so they can more easily re-set their time zone to the new one. Good luck!

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  • Leonard Lee

    answered by

    Stay hydrated during the flight. Avoid alcohol.

    Get a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds. The noise level in the cabin is extremely fatiguing over a long flight. Bose are good but expensive. Audio Technica makes a fairly inexpensive pair of earbuds. Use them all the time, even when you're not listening to music or watching a movie. You'll be surprised how less fatigued you'll be when you arrive

    http://www.amazon.com/AudioTechnica-ATH-ANC33iS-QuietPoint-Noise-Cancelling-Headphones/dp/B00CL3TAOQ/ref=pd_cp_107_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1CYZQFV6FZ92X5CAMGT1


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  • Marisa Perkins

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    ive heard to avoid high carb meals, lots of fluid and small meals


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  • B Reynolds

    answered by

    Melatonin 10mg slow release. Don't tell too many the price will go up. LOL


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  • Janelle Kennedy

    answered by

    Don't waste your money on any of the over the counter products that claim to prevent jet lag - most of them have not been properly tested for safety and NONE OF THEM WORK. The best tips I can recommend are as follows:

    1. Make sure you get a good night's sleep before your trip.

    2. Set your watch to your destination time zone when you board the aircraft.

    3. If you're arriving at your destination in the afternoon, evening or night, don't sleep on the plane.

    4. Don't take sedatives or sleeping pills.

    5. When you arrive, don't drink anything with caffeine and don't go to bed until it's bedtime at your destination.

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