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How to Avoid Jet Lag

You don’t have to accept fatigue and sleeplessness as the cost of traveling to distant lands. There are a half a dozen things you can do to lessen the impact of crossing time zones.


  • Step 1: Prepare your body Prepare your body for the new time zone by adjusting your schedule an hour or two earlier -- or later -- in the days just before the trip.
  • Step 2: Eat healthy About four days before your trip, consume less fat, salt, caffeine, and sugar, and more fresh fruits and vegetables. Travelers on a typical American diet -- protein-heavy breakfasts, high-carb dinners -- tend to have a harder time sleeping at their destinations.
  • Step 3: Go west If at all possible, try to fly west instead of east. It’s easier for the body to extend the day than to shorten it, so traveling west is easier to adjust to.
  • Step 4: Set your watch Set your watch as soon as you board the plane for your destination’s time zone. Try to pretend that it is already that time and act accordingly--if it’s the middle of the night in your destination, try to fall asleep as soon as possible.
  • Step 5: Dress comfortably Wear comfortable clothing on the plane. Tight clothing will reduce circulation and cause discomfort, interfering with your ability to sleep.
  • Step 6: Don't consume caffeine or alcohol Don’t consume any caffeine or alcohol in flight. They’ll just dehydrate you and disrupt your sleep patterns. Drink lots of water instead.
  • TIP: Get up at least once every two hours to walk around. This will improve your circulation and reduce muscle stiffness.
  • Step 7: Wear sunglasses Wear sunglasses during the last few hours of an overnight flight and for the first several hours after getting off the plane. Researchers have found that this helps people adjust their body clocks by altering their light patterns.
  • Step 8: Don’t nap Resist the urge to nap upon arrival. Instead, try to get some exercise and some exposure to sunlight to stave off sleep until your normal bedtime.
  • FACT: Hamsters who were given a shot of Viagra adjusted to a new time zone 20 to 50 percent faster than a control group, raising the possibility of the drug someday being prescribed for air travelers.

You Will Need

  • Comfortable clothing for the flight
  • Plenty of water
  • A pair of sunglasses

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