General Question

lrk's avatar

How to prevent or cope with jet lag?

Asked by lrk (757points) August 2nd, 2008

I’ll be taking a 7-hour overnight flight later this month across 5 time zones, going east; I will be taking off around 9:30PM, sitting in an airplane seat for 7 hours, and getting out at 9:30AM.

If it turns out that I can’t easily fall asleep on the plane, how should I cope with my jet lag after my flight, or what can I do before hand to prevent it?

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14 Answers

Allie's avatar

Take a nap before the flight. (Naps are amazing.) If all else fails, caffeine?

richardhenry's avatar

Don’t sleep during the day after. Stay awake all day, as awful as it will be, and go to bed at a normal time. You’ll get back into the natural rhythm faster, in my experience.

marinelife's avatar

You will experience jet lag whether you are able to sleep or not. I used to fly 70,000 miles a year on business, and I developed a whole routine for coping:

1. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages on the plane.

2. Drink a lot of water. Flying is very dehydrating. Do NOT drink the water from the plane tanks though. Studies show it is often contaminated. This is one place you do want bottled water.

3. For a flight that length, get up and walk up and down the aisle every hour or so. Stand for a while. In the periods where you have to keep your seat belt fastened, stretch your lower legs, flex your feet and relax them several times, rotate your ankles. The idea here is to move your lower leg muscles to prevent clots.

4. Before boarding and after deplaning, take a dose of your favorite immune booster. I personally use EmergenC, but if you prefer Airborne, take that or if you use an herbalist, go to them for something. You will be breathing recirculated air for seven hours filled with the germs of hundreds of strangers. Ever notice how you often get sick after you travel?

5. After you arrive, try to get some exercise before sleeping. A swim? A 30–45 minute wak? It will help you sleep better and recover faster.

Have a safe and fun trip.

Seesul's avatar

Make sure you stay hydrated during the flight, exercise your legs and feet (it can be done at the seat if you can’t get up). Take an iPod with relaxing things on it. Earplugs and noise reducing headphones and an eye mask.

If that fails, do what rh recommended. I usually stay up the night before, sleep on the plane, and I’m fine when I get in. It also depends on which direction you are flying, which to do (stay awake or sleep).

richardhenry's avatar

@Marina: Very helpful answer.

Seesul's avatar

Another way to prevent illness is to be sure and close the toilet when flushing, wash hands well, open the door with a towel. Airplane toilets spew all over the place if left open. Take your own cups for the hotel, or buy disposable ones when you get there. They are not always properly washed these days. I also wipe down things like the TV remote, phone and doorknobs.

tangbeili's avatar

My Aunt who is a nurse takes sleeping pills with her on such flights. Secure your valuables appropriately: and: I’m sure the flight attendant will wake you up when there is a need.

gooch's avatar

Upon arrival at your destination take off your socks and shoes and walk around bare foot. I heard this a long time ago and it helps me for some reason, as weird as it sounds.

andrew's avatar

I took these chewable jet-lag pills on my last long flight. Maybe it’s placebo effect, but they worked pretty well.

Ditto on rh’s suggestion to stay up. You have to.

sanbuu's avatar

@Marina, best answer I could have imagined.

Megan64's avatar

I asked a flight attendant on Aer Lingus once who told me: Don’t eat on the plane, don’t drink coffee (caffeine), drink water, water, water.

She was right.

mabd's avatar

Easy way to reset your sleep cycle

Apparently brand new research shows that your sleep cycle is regulated not just by light, but also by eating. By taking this approach you can completely reset your sleep cycle, perfect for jet lag. The idea is that you should fast for 12 to 16 hours just timed so that you break your fast with a hearty meal at the moment you wake up, and wish to wake up in the future. At this point your cycle should be completely reset. This is based on new research from Harvard Medical School. The implications for eliminating jet lag should be obvious.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

bring some melatonin with you

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