Our 8 Tips for Dealing with Jet Lag and Time Zone Differences

FlyAwayU | 8 Tips for Dealing with Jet Lag

Jet lag “a condition that is characterized by various psychological and physiological effects (as fatigue and irritability), occurs following long flight through several time zones, and probably results from disruption of circadian rhythms in the human body,” Merriam Webster dictionary

I hate jet lag. It’s one of the few things I don’t like about traveling. BUT it’s a necessary evil if you want to go anywhere in the world. Regardless of all the “miracle” promises there is no cure or fix for preventing jet lag. When you screw with your body’s time clock, it takes time to adapt to the new situation.

I’m a bitch when jet lagged. I do my best, but I still get snappy, forget things, don’t function well and become clumsy. Yep, I’m a “graceful” bitch when in jet lag mode! David doesn’t do so well either. He gets irritable, tired and snippy.

Everyone experiences jet lag differently, but some of the leading signs and side effects include:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • inability to think
  • memory loss
  • anxiety
  • weight gain (yes, jet lag can actually make you gain weight)
  • headaches
  • sleepiness
  • and lack of concentration.

If you’re interested in a more in-depth article about the science behind jet lag, check out Belle Beth Cooper’s article “The truth about jet lag and how to overcome it.I found Belle’s article while looking for help for dealing with my nasty jet lag issues.

After a few years of travel and trying A LOT of tips for dealing with jet lag, David and I have narrowed down to these eight tips as being the most helpful for us. Hopefully, they’ll help you as well.

1. Change Your Time Zone Before You Go

About a week before you leave, start getting up and going to bed an hour earlier or later depending on whether you’ll be traveling east or west. Set all your clocks an hour ahead or back. Unless you’re only going one or two zones, adjusting to a full amount of hours forward or behind isn’t always practical. BUT you can still make a difference by adapting to an hour or two ahead or behind.

2. Increase or Decrease Your Sunlight Exposure

Increase or decrease the amount of sunlight you get per day based on the time zone you’ll be visiting. Sunlight is the most significant key to resetting your internal clock, so getting on the right cycle does help. Get outside when it’s daylight in your new time zone and pull the shades and avoid sunlight for nighttimes.

3. Drink Lots of Water

Dehydration helps no one. If you want to feel right, you have to drink plenty of water. Personally, I hate drinking lots of water on the plane because I hate using the airplane bathroom. BUT I do feel sooooo much better when I drink more water.

4. Avoid Alcohol

A hard one for us because we like to enjoy a glass of wine while we’re waiting for our flight. But alcohol causes dehydration, and we already know from the tip above that dehydration is not suitable for jet lag. In my experience, I’m more likely to experience a hangover when drinking while traveling.

5. Change Your Meals to Your New Time Zone

Eating at the “normal” meal times will help your body adjust to the new schedule easier. Yes, your co-workers, friends, and family will think you’ve gone crazy for eating dinner at 9:30 AM, but it’s worth it. It’s beneficial for US citizens who tend to eat dinner early compared to many countries in Europe and South America who don’t even think of eating dinner until after 8 pm.

6. Travel Overnight

Sleeping on a long plane, train or bus ride can help you get some rest before arriving at your destination. Personally, I’m horrible at sleeping on any transportation. I’m always excited to get there, so I use Tylenol PM to help me sleep. Experts recommend not using sleep aids when traveling, but this is what works for me. You’ll have to find your happy medium.

7. Get Out In Your New Environment Upon Arrival

David and I do a little unpacking and settling in upon arrival, then head out for a bit of exploring. We pick somewhere relatively close, walk to get the blood pumping and find a nice bite to eat. The social experience and the exercise help us shake off travel effects and settle into the local rhythm. Don’t forget to check out our article How to Keep Your Tummy Happy While Traveling to help avoid tummy issues.

8. Give Yourself Time to Adapt

Time. Give yourself time. The only real cure for jet lag is your body adjusting to the new schedule and place. Science suggests that it takes one day for every time zone you cross to change. Following the above tips will help a lot, but time is what your body just needs to adjust fully. So be gentle, meditate or do yoga and take it easy.

Another common tip is to exercise while traveling which I didn’t include. Mainly because it’s almost impossible to get any decent exercise on a plane, train or bus. Planes are so overbooked these days, plus the seat belt signs stay on so much. Even getting up and down the aisle for a restroom run is like competing in American Ninja Warrior.

When I am up, I get in as many stretches and paces as possible until the attendant gives me the “LOOK.” If you travel, you know what I’m talking about. The “look” that says “sit your ass down.” But for those who want to give exercise a try, more power to you. It’s always worth a shot. And it is right for you.

Good luck with your time travel and feel free to add your tips for dealing with jet lag in the comments. We’re always looking for more ways to help beat jet lag and might even share your suggestions in a future post.

20 thoughts on “Our 8 Tips for Dealing with Jet Lag and Time Zone Differences

  • 07/12/2017 at 15:56

    You’ve got some great advice! My favorite is traveling overnight and sleeping through it. That always helps me 🙂
    PS I love your sense of humor!

  • 07/12/2017 at 16:22

    Such great tips! Thank you! I will definitely start incorporating them!

  • 07/12/2017 at 17:56

    These tips are great! I always mean to drink lots of water and avoid alcohol but never seem to manage it!! Changing your watch to the new time zone and getting into a pattern that fits it is genius… I will definitely be trying that 🙂

  • 07/12/2017 at 18:33

    What works for me is sleeping during the travels. Once I traveled from Europe to Singapore, slept the whole plane ride, and didn’t feel any jet lag. It’s cool that sleeping was mentioned among these tips. 🙂

  • 07/12/2017 at 20:03

    Great tips to handle the beast. I personally drink lots of water and avoid alcohol. And yes i can very well relate to the ‘LOOKS’ as i walk around the aisle a lot or else just stand next to my seat and stretch my legs. But I liked the idea of moving the clock to new time zone, but won’t work for us when we travel to the new time zone that’s 10-12 hours difference. Would be weird eating meals in the middle of the night. 🙁

    • 07/12/2017 at 21:02

      LOL. I completely understand Neha, that’s why I mention it won’t work for some people but you can still move the clock an hour or two and it will help 🙂

  • 07/12/2017 at 21:46

    Haha I’m a complete bitch when I’m jet lagged too. I try to follow these tips, but at the end of the day, I’m still always jet lagged. So now I just always plan to take it easy when I arrive to adjust.

    • 07/12/2017 at 21:56

      Julia, I have to do the same thing. These things help the hubby a lot but for me, while these things help, I just have to take the time to catch up.

  • 08/12/2017 at 07:23

    Those are some great suggestions! I always prefer to travel overnight to reach mid-day to the new destination. This gives me half a day to explore the nearby area and settle down. I love your tip on dehydration and setting up the clock. Will it for sure next time.

    • 08/12/2017 at 14:14

      Thank Ketki. I like the overnight travel as well. Not to mention, it’s awesome arriving in a new destination as it’s unveiled by the morning light 🙂

  • 08/12/2017 at 10:02

    These advices are amazing, already tried some of them … I can say they are helpful too. 🙂

  • 08/12/2017 at 14:42

    Great tips – I definitely agree with the meal times tip. I always force myself to eat at regular times after traveling to a new time zone even if I’m not hungry and I’ve found that to be really helpful. Hydrating is so key too. I always get an aisle seat on planes because I have to go to the bathroom all the time since I’m usually chugging water while flying to compensate for how dry it is in planes.

    • 08/12/2017 at 14:48

      Chugging water has the side benefit of allowing you to get more exercise as well since you’re up more! 🙂

  • 08/12/2017 at 20:45

    Great tips here, jetlag is the worst but is a given with all the travelling we do! We currently live in New Zealand a whopping 30 hour flight from my home in Ireland so these tips will be handy when we next visit.

    • 08/12/2017 at 23:37

      Ouch, Aimee. I haven’t done the trip to New Zealand yet but really want to go. 30 hours is A LOT of travel. Do you have any travel tips to share that help you work with jetlag?


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