How to Survive a Jet Lag: Pre-Flight and In-Flight Tips

How to Survive a Jet Lag: Pre-Flight and In-Flight Tips

Jet lag is a common phenomenon that affects travellers when their internal body clock cannot adjust quickly enough to the time difference between two different locations. It can cause an array of symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia, trouble concentrating and gastrointestinal issues. The severity of jet lag depends on how drastically you have crossed time zones and whether you are travelling east or west; for example, going from New York to Los Angeles causes less severe jet lag than flying from London to Sydney. For those who often travel long distances by plane, it is important to know strategies for minimizing the effects of jetlag before you even take off!


Preparing Your Body Pre-Flight

1. Sleep Techniques: It is important to get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your flight. Try going to bed and waking up at similar times each day, and make sure that you are getting enough restful hours in order for your body's internal clock to be reset when you reach your destination. If possible, try taking naps of no more than 20 minutes in the afternoon prior to takeoff so as not to disrupt nighttime sleeping patterns. Additionally, some travellers find it helpful to take a natural supplement or over-the-counter medication such as melatonin before flying out; however, it is always best practice to consult with a medical professional before doing so.

2. Eating Habits: Eating healthy foods can help reduce jet lag symptoms by providing essential energy and nutrients needed for recovery after travel. Prioritize wholesome meals full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates while avoiding processed junk food which will leave you feeling sluggish on arrival. Additionally, consider trying an intermittent fasting technique like “time-restricted eating” where one has specific windows throughout the day dedicated to consuming meals which can help regulate circadian rhythms if done properly.

3. Staying Hydrated: Staying hydrated during long flights is key! Drink lots of water throughout the trip (and avoid caffeine) in order to keep yourself optimally energized upon landing at your destination. Pack snacks like nuts or fruit bars that have high amounts of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium which are necessary for proper rehydration after long periods without drinking fluids while travelling through time zones or altitude changes.


Strategies During the Flight

1. Light Exposure: It is important to try and align your body clock with the time at your destination prior to arriving. One way of doing this is by regulating exposure to light during the flight. For example, when flying westward (toward a later time zone), exposing yourself to bright lights can help you adjust more quickly; conversely, when travelling eastward (toward an earlier time zone) it is best practice to limit the amount of light exposure while on board in order for your internal clock not get confused.

2. Movement & Exercise: Sitting still for long periods of time can make jet lag worse so be sure to get up and move around every few hours if possible! Simple exercises such as walking up and down the aisles or stretching in your seat will help prevent stiffness and keep energy levels high. Additionally, consider wearing comfortable clothing that allows you to breathe easily which may reduce fatigue caused by cramped seating arrangements.

3. Avoiding Stimulants: Finally, it is important not to overwhelm your body's natural system with stimulants like caffeine or alcohol as these substances can disrupt sleep patterns further upon arrival at the destination. While tempting after long flights, abstaining from drinking caffeinated beverages or other stimulating drinks will go a long way in helping you recover quicker from any jet lag effects that have occurred due to travel-related disruptions of circadian rhythms.


Maximizing Comfort on the Plane

When it comes to maximizing comfort on a plane, what you wear and what you pack are two important considerations.

1. Clothing: Choose clothing that is comfortable and lightweight, such as loose-fitting jeans or sweatpants, a t-shirt or tank top, and sneakers or sandals for easy access during security checks. Avoid clothes with metal zippers which can set off alarms during the scanning process. Additionally, dress in layers so that you can easily adjust your clothing depending on temperature changes throughout the flight.

2. Baggage: Pack light! Overstuffing your carry-on luggage will make it difficult to find items when needed and increases the risk of leaving something behind when disembarking from the plane. Bring only essential items like headphones, an eye mask or scarf for blocking out light, entertainment devices (such as books or tablets), snacks in case meals are not provided onboard and any necessary medications - all these should fit into one small bag carried by hand at all times while travelling to ensure valuables stay safe under lock and key. Furthermore, consider packing noise-cancelling earbuds which have become increasingly popular among travellers due to their ability to reduce loud airplane engine noise quickly upon takeoff.


Tips for Sleeping Post-Flight

One of the most important tips for sleeping post-flight is to regulate your exposure to light. Light has a significant impact on our circadian rhythms, and when we fly long distances across time zones, our bodies need time to adjust. When you arrive at your destination, try not to expose yourself immediately to bright lights or sunlight as this will make it harder for you to fall asleep later in the evening. Instead, wear sunglasses outside and keep the inside lighting dim until bedtime.

Another tip for sleeping after a long flight is taking melatonin supplements before bedtime. Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps us sleep by signalling to our brains that it's dark out and we should be winding down for bed. Taking just one small dose of melatonin can help increase drowsiness and promote better quality sleep even if you are crossing multiple time zones during travel. However, be sure to only take melatonin under the guidance of a healthcare professional as there are potential side effects associated with its use such as headaches and nausea if taken in large doses or over extended periods of time without medical supervision.

If you're feeling fatigued upon arrival, a quick nap can help you feel refreshed. However, it's important to be cautious not to disrupt your nighttime sleep schedule by napping for too long. It's recommended to limit your nap to 20 minutes or less to avoid entering deep REM sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy upon waking up. Alternatively, taking brief "power naps" throughout the day can provide a boost of energy without leaving you more exhausted than before resting.



To ensure a smooth transition to your new destination and avoid the negative effects of jet lag, it is essential to prepare in advance. This includes consuming nutritious meals before your flight, staying hydrated during your journey, regulating your exposure to light once you arrive, and taking natural supplements like melatonin. Additionally, dressing comfortably and bringing entertainment devices can make your flight more enjoyable. Upon arrival, it is important to avoid overstimulation from caffeine or alcohol as this can disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythms and make it harder to sleep. By following these guidelines, you can be well-prepared for your long-distance travel and potentially avoid feelings of fatigue.