10 Simple Body Hacks To Avoid Jet Lag

It's easy to get pumped about traveling abroad, but if you've ever been punished with a crippling case of jet lag, you know the struggle to reboot your body clock in unfamiliar territory is very real.

Fortunately, these 10 simple body hacks can help you curb and prevent the pains of trans-time zone travel. You'll be hopping off the plane and raring to go in no time.

1. Get a jump on your time zone adjustment

If you can swing it, start moving your routine forward or backward an hour or two, depending on where you'll be headed. Start going to bed earlier/later and shifting your meal times. Even a little preparation can pay off big time and help you hit the ground running without any hiccups.

2. Adjust your watch ahead of time

Setting your watch to the local time of your destination a day or two before will help reinforce the notion of living like you're already there.

3. Avoid the sunny side of the plane

If possible, book yourself a seat on the side of the plane that won't be sun-soaked during the flight so it's easier to sleep. This site will help you figure that out. Though if that's not possible, take advantage of the (usually) gratis eye mask or bring a pair of comfortable sunglasses to make it easier to drift off. 

4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

As tempting as it may be to down a half-dozen mini bottles of vino with an espresso chaser on your transatlantic journey, you'll be paying for it when you land. Stick to water and you'll step off the plane with your best foot forward.

5. Adjust your light schedule

As part of your travel prep, force your circadian rhythms to adjust to your new time zone by seeking or depriving yourself of light during designated periods. It can be a little tricky to track the schedule in your head, but thankfully there's both a website and an app designed to keep you on point.

6. Be sure to fast leading up to (and during) your flight

To kickstart your circadian rhythm reboot, it may help to forgo eating until it's breakfast time at your destination. The strategy is slightly different depending where you're headed, but The Points Guy has organized a really handy breakdown.

7. If you must nap, nap wisely

As tempting as it may be to konk out for hours on end during the flight (even when it's the middle of the day where you're headed), napping could be dangerous if you do it for too long at the wrong time. Instead, try catching shut-eye when it's early afternoon in your destination time zone, as a post-lunch nap has been shown to be most beneficial.

8. Pop some melatonin

If you need some extra encouragement to get sleepy at the appropriate times, feel free to dose yourself with melatonin. It's been scientifically proven to help lessen the effect of, and even prevent, jet lag.

9. Don't skip your workout

Follow your exercise regimen at the same time wherever you go. If you work out in the morning at home, you should fit in a workout in the morning at your destination. Also, it's worth getting up to move around the cabin during the flight. Not only will that help prevent deadly blood clots, but it'll keep your body from getting cramped or fatigued when you touch down.

10. If it's a short trip, don't bother adjusting

If your trip is only a couple days, you'll finally be fully adjusted to your new time zone as soon as it's time to hop on a plane home, so you may be better served not trying to switch at all.

Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor, and willing to put up with some slight lag in exchange for a couple of in-flight cocktails.

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