Preventing jet lag

Jet lag can't be prevented, butyou can try some strategies that may reduce its effects.

Some of these strategies have been studied in laboratory simulations of jet lag, but haven't necessarily been tested on people experiencing jet lag after real flights.

Before travelling

Before you travel:

  • change your sleep routine a few days before your departure- if you're travelling east, try going to bed an hour earlier than your usual time, andif you're travelling west, try to go to bed an hour later; the idea is to "prime" your sleeping routine with your destination in mind
  • get enough sleep before you travel- flying when you're tired may make the jet lag feel worse

During the flight

During the flight:

  • drink plenty of fluids- ensure you're well hydrated before, during andafter your flight
  • rest during the flight- take short naps
  • limit your caffeine consumption- avoid drinking too many caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea and cola, and avoid drinking them within a few hours of planned sleep
  • avoid alcohol- eat light meals and avoid drinkingalcoholas it can make the symptoms of jet lag worse
  • keep active- when flying long distances, take regularwalks around the cabin and stretch your arms and legs while you're sitting down; this will also help reduce yourrisk of developing a potentially serious condition calleddeep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • change your watch to match the time of your new destination- this will help you adjust to your new time zone more quickly

Try to get some sleep if it's night time when you arrive at your destination.You may find using ear plugs and an eye mask useful.

Short trips

It may be better to stay on "home time" whentaking a short trip (less than three to four days). If possible, arrange activities and sleep to coincide with the timeat home.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 25 Nov 2016