Jet lag: Tips?

I’m guessing everyone’s got a different way to combat jet lag. Would love to hear what works for people.

On a related note, also any tips on adjusting one’s sleep schedule. If I just pretend I’m living in California and not Texas, will I wake two hours earlier? :rofl:

This week I learned that DST starts this weekend in the U.S., but in the UK not for a couple weeks!

Drive safely, everyone!

On the day you fly, as soon as you get on the plane, set your watch to your destination time and eat/sleep based on your destination time, as much as you can. Take Melatonin 1 hour before your new bedtime. When you arrive, if it’s morning get some sunshine or very bright light, do not have a nap. Weather permitting, walk barefoot on the grass (it sounds like voodoo witch craft but it works). Get out and keep active, walking, sightseeing etc but do not go anywhere dark like a cinema.

If arriving before lunchtime eat plenty of protein as it will make your metabolism work harder, thereby keeping you awake. If arriving in the afternoon, avoid a protein heavy evening meal and eat pasta/carbs as they are easier to metbolise. Avoid caffeine in afternoon. Go to bed at your normal time. Repeat on the next day. Keep taking the Melatonin for a few days. You should be in the right timezone after a couple of nights sleep.


Lots of people say that it is a bad idea to nap when you get to the destination, but I do it all the time. However, I am lucky to be able to sleep almost anywhere, any time. Also, I suffer very little from jet lag when the time difference is 6 hours or less.

Sometimes I use melatonin. Interestingly, I learned recently that anything over 3-5 mg can be counter-productive, and disrupt sleep, so I take a very low dose.


That’s easier said than done! I know you’re not supposed to drink alcohol when flying as that doesn’t help either but I will usually have a g & t and a glass of wine with my meal. All part of the experience :wink: Not sure about the pasta/carbs being easier to metabolise, they’ll convert into sugar if not used up quickly by exercising, which is pretty unlikely when suffering from jet lag. Protein all the way I’d say. I also prefer not to take medication. I just try to stay awake as long as possible and sleep when it’s bedtime, but will likely nap before then!

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Geoff, This is such a great topic. Thank you! For me, I book a red eye, (fly overnight), if I can, so I arrive in the early hours, and can start my day!

Or, as in May, I arrive at 12noon, after 10.5 + 1.5-hour flights, so that’ll be fine.

I will drink a lot of water for the three days up to my flight, and on the flight, as well. Water is life.

I will take my nightly CALM, Natural Vitality brand: 1 T. Magnesium powder in hot water/or any temp. water, before I sleep on plane.

This relaxes all the muscles and gives the body magnesium, which is vital in 300 bodily processes, and allows for great relaxation before sleep, and ZERO effect other than peaceful, deep sleep. NO AFTER EFFECTS, AT ALL, EVER. I have taken it every night for years, and when traveling.

We flew a lot when I was little, and my mom said it is best to immediately follow the time of the place you are in when you land.

Let’s hear how it goes, Geoff.
Thanks for your thoughtful contributions.


Everyone is different. I can barely function if I stay up past 2am and I find jet lag harder and harder the older I get (I’m 62 now).

We usually book an airbnb within an hour of the airport when we fly to the Europe and take a couple of nights to adjust to the 8-9 hour time difference before we start driving.

I rarely get more than a couple of catnaps on the overnight flight and I almost always feel sick when I arrive so we get to our accommodation as soon as we can and go straight to sleep for a nap. (Our flights usually land around noon so we get there about 2-3pm).

We get up in the early evening, have a light meal, and then go back to bed about 10 or 11 and sleep 8-10 hours. I usually take a Benadryl and some melatonin the first 2-3 nights.

The next day, we don’t make any plans and just try to spend time outdoors, light exercise walking, and usually have at least one nap that day.

By day 3, we are starting to feel pretty normal and ready to start travelling.

I read somewhere that it takes one day for each hour of time difference for your body to fully adjust.


Be careful with magnesium. Take it only to bowel tolerance, too much causes diarrhea.


Well @geoff.hom I don’t do battle with my body. Flying for me is a thrilling adventure. I don’t self medicate with anything. I just enjoy the flight and once my body’s adrenaline subsides I will nap, usually will cover my eyes or entire face. On long overnight flights, I do the same and when I land I assimilate the local time as best I can and if I need to will take a rest mid afternoon. By next morning I’m in flow with the day cycle.
The human body is an amazing responsive organism that adapts quickly to the environment. Melatonin is naturally secreted by the brain in darkness and held in light. That includes screens and other forms of unnatural light.


Well, that makes it crystal clear why we have been said to be kindred spirits, Amparo. I always say, “If my body is tired, I rest. I have come to know my body is not lying!” :slight_smile:


There is a TRUE statement. I do recall years ago…that lesson learned!

I guess my years of nightly magnesium have allowed my body to grow accustomed to the 1 tablespoon I take. Happy bowels here, thanks!

Glad you’ve advised the new, and any over-zealous magnesium-beginning-users.

Thank you, Mars!


@geoff.hom @Carla_C The most important thing is to keep hydrated, plenty of water, try to limit your alcohol if you can although I’m not one to talk because I love my drink once onboard especially the cocktails! :sweat_smile:

It is easier to extend your day than to compress your day, and because of that it is easier to go West than it is to go East although it obviously depends on the amount of time zones you are crossing. For example if you are travelling from the UK to Europe then a 1hr time change is not an issue but a 5 1/2 hour time change to India, for example it becomes more difficult to acclimatise. So for example if you are flying from London to Sydney, Australia you are going to achieve that journey in just under 24 hours but it’s an 11 hour time difference so your body is completely out of tilt with its circadian rhythm. So 9pm in Sydney is when you might feel tired and go to sleep but your body thinks it’s only 10am in the morning. So you might sleep but potentially only for 2 maybe 3 hours which is in effect midnight local time.
When we fly from London to Los Angeles that is an 8 hour time change (7 at the moment!), and it’s easier to extend your day, so even when we get to our hotel at 6pm local our body is set at 2am but it is easier to go out and have a meal or drink and stay up for another 2 to 3 hours until say 9pm local.

It is thought that your circadian rhythm will adjust by 1 hour for every day that you are in the new time zone so in theory after arriving in Los Angeles for a week you should have adjusted to the local time, there or thereabouts. Try to have your meals at the local meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner and eat accordingly i.e, have something that could be classified as breakfast at breakfast time.

Travelling across many time zones in one flight it can be very difficult for the body to adjust and sleep during the local night. Some people use sleeping pills/aids and one of the better known ones is melatonin. However, my hubby whilst he was working as a Captain with a major UK airline on a worldwide network of destinations, was not permitted to use melatonin as a sleep aid because the Civil Aviation Authority deemed that it affected the chemical balance of the brain and that could be detrimental to a pilot’s ability to perform his/her duties.

I am very lucky in the fact I do not seem to suffer from jet lag, despite having flown every week or every other week worldwide. I always adjust to the local time on arrival. Having said that, if I fly to a destination where we arrive first thing in the morning, for instance, Buenos Aires, I always sleep for a couple of hours on arrival at the hotel whereas getting to the hotel in Singapore at 5pm local, I would just go out as normal. But at the end of the day different people deal with jet lag in different ways so if you find something that works for you then do that because what I have said here is how we deal with jet lag or time zone changes.


Thank you for these tips, this makes me feel better as when I flew from the UK to Bali, I felt jetlagged for a good week! I flew from the UK to NY and did not think I would get jetlag but yes I did again and seem to suffer from it a lot! Thank you everyone for your helpful tips.


Food, not sleep, resets the biological clock. So eat at the right times for your destination, even if you’re not hungry (just eat a little to start the digestive process), and even if you have to set your alarm and wake up and eat and go back to sleep.

Safe travels!


Oh, interesting @mama2comp. I’ll give that a try on my next long flight. Thanks.

Advice from the Sleep Foundation …

Jet lag is commonly associated with international plane travel, but it can arise on any flight that goes east or west across three or more time zones. Jet lag frequently causes sleep disruptions, which can throw your body’s internal clock out of sync with the day-night cycle at your destination.

Knowing how to prevent and recover from jet lag can help you maintain your sleep schedule and overall wellness during your travels, so you can make the most of your trip.



You would think since I’m a flight attendant and deal with jet lag all the time I would have some magical remedies to help… unfortunately I don’t :crazy_face: but wow have I learned a lot from this thread! Thanks for sharing everyone, I’ll have to test them out on my next flight.


Thank you to everyone for all their feedback. It’s really nice to get such a diversity of opinions and experiences.


@mama2comp’s mention of food is interesting. I was reminded of an experiment done in 2019 by scientists at the University of Cambridge. They found that bright light + a meal was important.


Flying across time zones: Try not to see any bright lights, and try not to eat for about 12 hours before you have breakfast at the time of your destination’s morning. Even if you’re still flying, try to eat your breakfast and see light when morning greets your destination.

That quote is from this article:

For further reading, a similar article:

In the experiment, they found that insulin was the key molecule. So, we want a meal that produces insulin.

I just read another experiment you should like: Chocolate for breakfast prevents circadian desynchrony in experimental models of jet-lag and shift-work | Scientific Reports

Jet-lag cure: Chocolate for breakfast!

based on my personal experience;

  1. get older … seriously … the older I get the less affected by jetlag I am. In fact, I cannot even remember when it happened the last time. 3, 4, 5 years ago? Yet I travel across many time zones regularly and still can´t fall asleep on planes. East, West makes no difference.

  2. travel West - much much easier and quicker to adapt


Thanks for all of this information @geoff.hom I will put some of these into practice next time I fly and keep you posted. Thank you to the community this information is super helpful and informative. :grin:

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A sleep scientist, an elite athlete and a former flight attendant share their best tips for resetting your internal clock before, during and after travel :alarm_clock: