Avoiding jet lag

Why is it that for every time zone you cross, you need a day to recover?

Avoiding jet lag

Why is it that for every time zone you cross, you seem to need a day to recover? Who wouldn't want to step off the plane, collect your luggage from the carousel and stride out of the airport doors ready to embrace all your new destination has to offer? Unfortunately for most people, the effect of long haul flights sees them suffering jet lag. Andrea shares some tips to cope with long flights and be raring to go once you arrive.

Reduce Your Flight Transfers
Plan your journey so you are not transferring planes along the way. It may seem like a good idea and a cheaper option to change flights so you can take a break during a long journey, but direct flights are better in the long run if you want to avoid jet lag. 

Try to adapt in advance
Before you travel you should try to partially adapt to the destination time zone. For instance, you could start your daily routine one hour before or after you normally do the week before flying. 

Exercise the Day Before
It can become extremely uncomfortable sitting in a cramped seat for an extended period. Go to the gym the day before you board your flight. Give your legs a good workout, release the chemicals which reduce stress and tire yourself out to help you sleep on the flight. 

Request a window seat
If possible reserve yourself a window seat as this is the only place you can rest your head and pillow on a hard surface. It's impossible on the aisle or in the centre seats.

Keep hydrated
Spending a number of hours breathing refurbished air can be dehydrating, so avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water before and during your flight. Indulging in free wine, beer, coffee and salted peanuts can leave you feeling weary. Keep your skin moisturised by splashing your face and hands every time you go to the bathroom.

Get some sleep
Try to get some sleep during longer flights. Pack an eye mask and ear plugs in your carryon luggage. Wearing comfortable shoes and loose clothing on your journey will help with circulation and enable you to sleep more comfortably.

As soon as you arrive at your destination, try to adapt to the local schedule by eating the appropriate meals at the right time. Also get out into the sunlight and avoid taking naps during the day.

Some of the symptoms of jet lag are: 

  • Daytime tiredness and generally feeling unwell
  • Finding it difficult to sleep and a lack of concentration
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache

    Related Stories


    To make a comment, please register or login
    24th Jun 2013
    Having flown long haul on numerous occasions I find what helps me is starting the flight in the evening. Contrary to popular advice, I then have a few glasses of wine with dinner and a couple of brandies afterwards. Not only does it make the attrocious food palatable, it relaxes me enough to get some sleep. Far easier to to do anyway with all the lights dimmed. I once flew from San Francisco to London and slept the whole way, best flight I've ever had. I dont suffer from Jet Lag either but my wife does who accompanies me on the same flights but cant sleep on a plane no matter what.
    24th Jun 2013
    We have done Bris/Syd to LA on several occasions. We find the best way is to plan your trip to get there in the morning. When you get there dont go to bed, get out and do stuff and try to go to bed at your normal time. The plane trip is usually a bit tedious but Air NZ are the best to travel with in my opinion. Great service and good food and plenty of it kept hydrated and we Never had jet lag at all.
    24th Jun 2013
    Jet Lag sounds just like what I get every time I come home from any holiday ;-( - followed by an attack of the sads....... Only slightly better now that I have retired.... Best tip I have is to avoid long flights - sail everywhere you can..... Cheers
    24th Jun 2013
    I don't agree with the window seat suggestion. I've found too much vibration and noise resting my head against the inside of the fuselage (that's assuming a pillow is provided and is large enough to fill the gap with the seat) and one has to disturb others to use the toilet. There are products on the market, like the 'J' pillow or the 'Jetsleeper', that work well in helping one to sleep, irrespective of what seat one's in.
    24th Jun 2013
    I fly regularly between Sydney and the UK and have done so for twenty or so years. I have tried every suggestion to minimise jet lag and have found none that work consistently. My suggestion is to find the most comfortable company to fly with, Emirates suits me well, and just relax as best one can. I don't like window seats!
    21st Apr 2018
    I fly long haul several times a year. I also break the journey for a couple of days close to the mid point so that I am used to the new time zone before I continue to the next major stop. I try to get a few hours sleep (even during the day time if it is a day time flight) so that I am refreshed enough to be able to drive one to two hours when I arrive in my destination.

    If it is a late night flight I will forgo a very late dinner meal (or have it in the lounge) I can also for the meal to be had at breakfast (on long haul I am usually in business class). I have been know to be asleep before the plane takes off.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles