What can I do to minimize jet lag?

The following are preventive measures that you can take to reduce the severity of your jet lag:

Readjust your sleep schedule

  • Before traveling from east to west, go to bed later and wake up later for several days before departure.
  • Before traveling from west to east, go to bed earlier and wake up earlier for several days before departure.
  • Get a good night's sleep the evening before your flight.

Also, when crossing four or more time zones, it’s a good idea to schedule layovers instead of straight-through flights.

Exercise in your seat or stand and move about the cabin

Suggested exercises include:

  • Breathing deeply
  • Rolling your feet
  • Raising your knees
  • Turning your head
  • Swinging your arms overhead
  • Contracting (tensing) and relaxing your leg muscles

More tips to minimize the effects of jet lag

  • Before you leave, gradually adjust your meal schedule to the new time zone you’ll be in, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Try to avoid tension and stress before departure.
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills, if possible.
  • Do not overeat during the flight, and keep alcohol intake to a minimum.
  • When you arrive at your destination, get some sunlight to help yourself adjust to your new surroundings.
  • After you arrive, get plenty of sleep, eat only food you are used to at first, and drink plenty of clear bottled fluids until the jet lag has resolved.

Does taking melatonin work for jet lag?

There has been interest in melatonin since it does appear to affect the body clock of many animals. However, its use is not recommended. Despite its widespread availability, there is no evidence that melatonin works, and a record of safety has not been established.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/15/2016.


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