How to Recover from Jet Lag

Traveling for work or pleasure can be fun and interesting, but traveling to a new time zone will more often than not result in jet lag. Every day, millions of travelers struggle with one of the most common sleep disorders.

For years, jet lag was considered merely a state of mind. Now, 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.

Moving through time zones can wreak havoc on our bodies, leading to extreme fatigue along with indigestion, bowel problems, loss of appetite and memory, and concentration issues.

It can take a few days to a few weeks for your body to adjust to a new time zone when flying. This can make things difficult if you are bouncing from time zone to time zone in a short period of time.

If you are flying long distances and/or multiple flights over a short period of time, jet lag can destroy you and you’ll need a jet lag cure that works.

The best thing to do when you know you’ll be traveling long distance is to have a half to full day period of time to adjust. This way you can start adapting your sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, blood pressure, digestion, and other bodily functions to the new time zone.


What else can you do to recover from jetlag? Here are 12 of the best tips!
1. Plan ahead

By slowly changing the time that you go to sleep and when you wake up in the weeks before your trip, you should have an easier time adjusting to the jet lag. When the time for the trip comes, your sleep schedule should be relatively close to that of your destination.

2. Have enough sleep before you leave for your flight

Sleep deficit will make jet lag worse. People often end up having slept for just a few hours before a long flight.

Whether it’s due to pre-holiday excitement or a deliberate attempt to tire yourself out so that you’ll sleep through the flight, it’s a big mistake.

Last minute changes to your routine will only make it harder to adjust to a new time zone, and getting a good night’s sleep before your flight will leave you better equipped to cope with jet lag.

3. Nap during the flight

Take short little naps on the flight when you feel sleepy. It will help build those reserves. If you can sleep for longer make it so that you sleep during the sleep time of your arrival time zone.

For early morning arrivals, ensure you get some sleep on the plane to help you to stay awake until night time. If you are arriving at night, avoid sleeping much during the flight.

4. Eat small meals frequently

Try not to eat heavy foods that will make you feel tired and sluggish afterward. Keep your energy up by enjoying lighter foods and staying as active as possible.

Make sure you are filling your body with lots of healthy food: fruit and vegetables. Avoid sugar as much as you can.

5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

It’s not the sleep inducing cure we all think it is. Alcohol will keep you awake and when you combine it with the jet lag haze it can get nasty. Caffeine just messes with your internal clock on a normal day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine on the day of your arrival too.

We don’t want to be party poopers and we all know how tempting it can be to get in those airport beers, but try and avoid it for those long-haul flights. It will only increase tiredness and dehydration, making you feel so much worse. Drink lots of water instead.

6. Sleeping pills

Your doctor can prescribe for you a hypnotic sleeping pill to help you get rest at proper times when you first reach your destination or to help avoid sleep deprivation during the flight. Sleeping pills may help you sleep better as you adjust to the new time zone, but are not necessary and should be used on a short-term basis.

7. Sunlight

Sunlight is a powerful tool to reset your internal clock. After you reach your destination, make sure to open a window or go outside during the daytime to expose yourself to sunlight. This will help you adjust to the new time zone.

8. Kick up your feet

As soon as you get back home (or to your home away from home), elevate your feet against a wall or headboard for five to 10 minutes. Feels a little silly, sure, but it helps relieve swelling in your legs and ankles.

9. Get Your Sleep Environment Right

Do all you can in advance to get your sleeping environment conducive to a good, solid night’s sleep. This means getting the temperature right, minimizing any disruptive noise and getting the room as dark as possible. Having a comfortable mattress also helps, of course!

10. ‘First Night Effect’ & ‘On-Call Effect’

These two common phenomena are known to keep people awake unduly. First Night Effect takes hold when trying to sleep in new or unfamiliar settings. To counter this, bring items from home which will make you feel more settled.

On-Call Effect is the feeling of never being fully able to relax and constantly waking up, despite not needing to. This is due to an unrealistic expectation that a noise (or alarm) will wake you or conversely, you will not wake up when you want to. To help deal with this, take measures to keep any controllable noise in the room to a minimum and request a wake-up call from reception so that you are confident you will wake at your desired time.

11. Do not sleep at the wrong time

No matter how tired you are when you arrive in your new time zone, you’ve got to put those matchsticks in and stay awake. Wait until it is bedtime. It’s okay to hit the hay as soon as the sun goes down, but it is best you wait until a bit later. Help your body get used to the new time zone as soon as possible.

12. Get some exercise

Some studies have shown that moderate exercise helps adjustment to the new time schedule. Outdoor exercise has the dual advantage of including exposure to sunlight.

Exercising as soon as you arrive gets the blood flowing from your swollen into your upper extremities. Traveling through multiple time zones can certainly do a number on the body. If possible, get a quick workout in as soon as you get settled. Even a few minutes of yoga in your hotel room will increase mental alertness and acuity and will go a long way in helping regulate your sleep cycle.



There is no one, single, universal trick you can use against jetlag. The tips featured here will definitely help you reduce the effects, but your symptoms won’t completely disappear. The most important thing in most cases is for you to stay awake and not be tempted to cozy up in bed. In two or three days you’ll be over your jet lag anyway, and you can plunge into your new adventures!

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