Beating Jet Lag

Symptoms of jet lag

  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Stomach upsets.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Disorientation


 Good Start

If you want to get more out of the start of your holiday, it’s important to be well rested before you embark.

Changing your watch to your destination time as soon as you board the aircraft and to eat little during the journey.

However, resetting your watch on board may not be a good idea for everyone. If you take regular medication, eg. for diabetes, watches should remain on home-time until you are able to adjust your medication to local time at your destination, or as suggested by your doctor.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, and drink plenty of water to combat the dehydrating recycled cabin air.
Many long-haul flights are at night: ear plugs and eye-masks are inexpensive ways to help you get some sleep.

Head for the sunshine

When you arrive, going for a nap is the worst thing you can do, because it sets your body’s rhythms back to home time. Staying active on arrival will help the body adjust to the new time zone.

Eating and sleeping are your body’s time indicators, so it’s important to fit in with what the locals are doing when you arrive. Consequently, if it’s breakfast time, eat breakfast.

Exposing yourself to as much daylight as possible might also be a good idea, because it has been shown that bright light can help to reset circadian rhythms.
Other ways to tackle jet lag

It may be an idea to split your journey if you can, stopping off in Los Angeles or Singapore if you are on your way to Australia, for example.

There may also be medical solutions. If you have important meetings scheduled, it can be worth asking your doctor about the possible benefits of a mild sleeping tablet for two or three days while you adjust.

The drug melatonin is also often used by travelers in the US. The hormone helps to synchronies the body but research on its effectiveness is limited. The Aviation Health Institute does not recommend the therapy because it has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Jet lag does not need to ruin the beginning or end of your holiday. With a little planning and sensible preparation, you can minimize the adverse effects of flying

Further information

Aviation Health Institute: