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How to Get Over Jet Lag Quickly

Updated on December 1, 2011
anglnwu profile image

A seasoned traveler, I offer tips on how to travel well. From navigating through Europe to jet lag, you'll find them here.

Is jet lag getting you down?


You love the excitement of going to new places but you hate the nagging jet lag that comes with it. Many travelers experience some form of jet lag when they travel and that can intervene with the quality of their business trip or vacation. If you travel across two or more time zones, the chances are you’ll experience some degree of jet lag. You’re sleepy at the wrong time, your body feels weird or tired, you experience constipation or the reverse—diarrhea. You may also feel a little mental lethargy where you’re not as sharp as you should be. All these are classic symptoms of jet lag. Crossing time zones can throw your body’s daily rhythm out of whack. The severity of symptoms is largely dependent on a number of factors including the number of time zones you cross, your age and ability to adapt

It takes your body time to adjust to the time difference between the place of origin and the place of destination.
It takes your body time to adjust to the time difference between the place of origin and the place of destination. | Source

What Causes Jet Lag?

Your body has an internal clock that regulates your sleep-awake cycle. The part of your brain, known as hypothalamus, which controls hunger, thirst, body temperature, hormonal levels also controls sleep. Hypothalamus responds to light and darkness. When it is dark, hypothalamus increases the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone and when it is light, it reduces the hormone. When you travel thousands of miles, your body’s natural circadian rhythm has to adapt to a new day and night cycle. If your body cannot adapt immediately or fast enough, you will experience jet lag. For instance, when you travel from California, America to Singapore, you face a 15-hour difference. When you arrive in the day in Singapore, your body clock is still on the night circle and you may feel sleepy in the middle of the day.

Traveling long hours on an airplane may also contribute to jet lag. You may experience a general sense of being unwell, your muscles may ache and you may feel tired. Mayo clinic attributes it to the induced cabin pressure at high attitudes in the aircraft. The air also tends to be very dry and can cause mild dehydration if you don’t drink enough fluids. Dehydration may further compound the effects of jet lag.

Although jet lag is usually temporary and will go away once your body adapts to the new rhythm, it can affect the quality of your vacation or work (if you’re on a business trip). You may waste valuable time, waiting for your body to adjust. By the time you’ve recovered, the vacation or work assignment maybe over. However, there are ways to minimize the effects of jet lag and here are some ways seasoned travelers find useful:

Easy Tips and Exercises to Reduce Jetlag

  • Stick to the New Schedule

You arrive at your destination during the day but you’re on the night cycle, what do you do? Cave in and go to sleep? Health experts advise you to resist the temptation to do so. Take a walk or do an activity that will keep you awake. Staying in the sunlight will also help your hypothalamus reduce the production of melatonin, thereby helping you keep awake. By sticking to the local schedule, your body will readjust much faster.

  • Stay Fit

Staying in optimal physical shape and health will help your body cope with the time changes. Your body will rebound quicker and adapt faster. In order to stay fit, adopt a healthy lifestyle with exercises, good nutrition and adequate rest. If you’re already physically fit, it is important to continue your healthy regimen after you’ve landed. Most hotels have a fitness center— be sure to use it to your advantage. If not, you can always create your own exercise—do yoga in the privacy of your room or enjoy a brisk walk.

Replenish fluid lost duirng air travel.


  • Stay Hydrated

A long flight may dehydrate your body to the point where it would take about two pints of water to replenish fluids lost. That’s just one aspect. Dehydration can also worsen fatigue—the last thing you want on a vacation or business trip. Drink plenty of water to keep your body sufficiently hydrated. When choosing beverages on in-flight services, it is best to avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages as they tend to be dehydrating and they can also interfere with your sleeping patterns.

  • Start Adapting

It’s a good idea to adapt your body to the new time schedule of your destination days before you leave. To help your body adapt, Avelino Verceles, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine suggests initiating sleep half an hour earlier each night for several nights prior to traveling east and do the opposite if you’re traveling west. Such gradual changes will help your body get in sync with the new destination time.

What is Melatonin?

  • Break Up Your Trip

Traveling across 12 or more time zones can take a toll on your body. Breaking up a long flight may help your body ease into an entirely different time schedule. Most long flights have transit destinations. For example, instead of going directly from California to Singapore, schedule a stopover in Hong Kong or Japan (depending on the flight route) for a day or two to help your body adjust and adapt.

  • Sleeping Medications

Sleeping medications should only be used under the doctor’s direction and as a last resort. Melatonin, a natural sleeping aid is often prescribed and research shows some degree of success with melatonin use with regard to jetlag. Ask your doctor to prescribe a medication that is right for you, especially if you have any pre-existing health condition. If you’re a frequent flyer and experience jet lag on a consistent basis, it is best to see a sleep specialist or a physician who specializes in sleep medicine.


Submit a Comment

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 4 years ago

    Thanks, Matt elmore, for givign me the thumbs up on Philips Go-lite. Glad you dropped by to comment.

  • matt_elmore profile image

    matt_elmore 4 years ago from San Diego

    Thanks for the tips. I didn't know how important hydration was. Have you ever heard of the Phillips Go-lite? Portable UV device.... good at telling your body when its daytime (even though its not daytime in your home country).

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    mizjo, jetlag is a bigger problem when you travel further away. When I go home to Singapore, it's not that big of a deal, but coming back to the US, it often takes about a week to recover. Thanks for dropping by to read and comment.

  • mizjo profile image

    mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

    Great tips for travelers, Anglnwu. My last trip home I was so jetlagged that I was awake all night and drowsy all day for the first two weeks. That had never happened before. Good thing I had 5 more weeks to recover. I am normally a fairly instant sleeper.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Amber, good to see you. I agree with you. Thanks for commenting.

  • Amber Allen profile image

    Amber Allen 6 years ago

    Hi anginwu

    Many of the symptoms of jet lag are also suffered by shift workers who have a rotational shift pattern. I'm sure many of these tips would also help them too.


  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    oceansunsets, I agree dehydration is a serious problem. Whenever I take the 18 and a half hour ride to Singapore, I can feel my skin drying up. I usually carry moisturizer to help me with that. Thanks for dropping by to comment and Happy New Year!

  • oceansnsunsets profile image

    Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

    This is such a helpful hub, thanks for sharing. I know for me, staying hydrated is a huge part of getting over things..if you aren't hydrated you will feel awful all around I think. Its good to know there are ideas out there that can help. Why save up for the trip of a lifetime only to feel awful when you get there. Voted up, and useful and awesome.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Thanks, drpastorcarlotta, good to hear from you:)

  • drpastorcarlotta profile image

    Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

    Very informational anglnwu. Thank you!!! Voted-interesting!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Kakalina, I agree--lots of water. Thanks for commenting.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Ruchira, thanks for sharing your personal experience. When I travel to Singapore, I've a 20 hour flight too--I agree with your tips. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

  • Ruchira profile image

    Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

    Hi anginwu,

    i loved your hub and i actually stick to quite a few of the above things when travelling to india. focus on water, water, water. try to eat less. stretch those leg muscles, neck, shoulder muscles now and then. try to close my eyes every now and then and hope to get some sleep.

    voted up as useful indeed!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Om, good to hear from you. I have the same problem too--I can never sleep on the plane. I need a bed, not a seat. Thanks for commenting.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Movie Master, when I went to Europe, I couldn't sleep for 2 nights--arrhh... Going to Singapore is easier as I go frequently and know how to tweak it so jet lag is not too difficult. Thanks for your comments--I appreciate it very much.

  • kikalina profile image

    kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

    I think the water really helps. great hub.voted up

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Great advice. It's usually very hard for me to sleep on the plane. Maybe next time before flying a 20-hour flight to Bangkok, I should ask my doctor for some melatonin supplements. Rated up and useful!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Gypsy Willow, thanks for pointing that out. Talk about editing--oops. Appreciate your comment.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Thanks, nicregi, appreciate your comments.

    Haha, Lady E, that's how I feel too--we need a vacation after a vacation. Hopefully, these tips will help us to bounce back quickly. Thanks for your comments.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Good tips anginwu, I always get jet lag when I vist my daughter in Canada, it's a 9 hour flight. Voted up and thank you my friend, best wishes MM

  • Gypsy Willow profile image

    Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

    Do you mean "Stay Hydrated" rather than dehydrated? Otherwise good tips!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Prasetio, thanks for commenting. Yes, can't wait for you to visit USA. The time difference is about 15 hours and if you time it such that you arrive here during the day, it will be easier to get over jet lag. Have a great day.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    MPG, thanks for dropping by to comment. Time difference can really mess with sleeping habits. Take care.

  • Lady_E profile image

    Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

    Thanks for the advice (so timely) and also for explaining the Science bit. Now I know melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone.

    Isn't it funny when you go on holiday, that you need another 2 to 3 days holiday at home, to get over the initial holiday. :)

  • nicregi profile image

    Reginald Chan 6 years ago from Malaysia

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing. Good info there.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Very informative and I learn many things from this hub. Maybe I will get this if I go to USA. Thank you very much. Rated up. Take care!


  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Marie Giunta 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Thanks for these tips I will have to remember them when I travel overseas next. With Australia so far away from anywhere these tips on helping jet lag will come in very handy. Thanks anglnwu.