Top 11 Ways to Avoid Jet Lag

Travel Tips

Who doesn’t hate jet lag? Singapore-based global travel search website Skyscanner interviews Singaporean travelers to find out what they do to avoid jet lag, which lasts, they say, an average of 2.3 days following long flights.

Skyscanner surveyed 1,000 Singaporean travelers to determine how they dealt with jet lag. Fully 80% of them had taken long-haul flights over the previous 12 months. It took them an average of 2.3 days to recover.

Here are some of the most popular techniques:

1. Stretching and doing light exercises in flight – 61%

2. Exercising and getting fresh air before the flight – 60%

3. Setting their watches to the new time zone – 48%

4. Staying awake for the duration of the flight – 47%

5. Drinking alcoholic beverages in flight – 37%

6. Avoiding alcoholic beverages in flight – 31%

7. Taking sleeping pills – 21%

8. Taking herbal remedies – 19%

9. Taking anti-jet lag pills – 18%

10. Taking melatonin – 14%

11. Taking Viagra – 11%

“In an ideal world, to prevent jet lag we should begin taking on the habits of [the] destination time zone before we leave home,” says Tony Gheradin, National Medical Advisor at the Travel Doctor – TMC.

“That is, eating at the same time and sleeping or resting at the same time as what you would be doing at that destination. Of course this isn’t always possible at home or even while flying.”

And what about drugs?

“What works reasonably well is to eat light meals and keep hydrated, avoiding heavy foods and alcohol,” Tony says.

Regarding sleeping tablets, Tony advises that “safe use of sleeping tablets or melatonin once you’ve reached your destination can also assist in getting your body in sync with the time zone.”

Comment and Analysis

First class cabin of a Cathay Pacific airliners. Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific Airways.

This is what I’ve tried on long flights, and this is what has worked:

I always set my watch to the new time zone. Then I hide it. Otherwise, I’m checking it every few minutes, which seems to make the flight seem much, much longer.

I get up frequently and pace the aisles. If they’re approachable, I chat with the flight attendants.

If I’m arriving well before bed time, I go into the toilet and wash my face, shave, and brush my teeth before arrival. This signals to my body that it is time to get up, giving me a second wind.

A lot depends on what time the flight departs and what time it arrives. I find it best to leave late morning or early afternoon and arrive at my destination in the evening, just in time for bed. But that is not always possible.

Whatever I do, and no matter how tired I am, I NEVER take a nap upon arrival. When I used to do this, I would be stuck in the old time zone for days.

So I’ve learned to force myself to stay up until a reasonable hour at my destination – though it might be much earlier than I would normally go to bed at home. When I do this, I usually wake up bright and early the next morning without a hint of jet lag.

Needless to say, one of the best ways – as the two photos  suggest – is to fly First Class. But not all of us can afford that.

Reader Feedback

Oh, right … I forgot to address that last suggestion. And a reader in Seattle, Washington, asked about it …

Regarding Viagra? Hmmm … Not sure about that, but, NO! I have NOT yet personally tried this strategy (at least not yet). Higher altitude? Less air pressure?

All I can say is, if you do, make sure to wear loosing fitting pants!


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