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How to Avoid Getting Jet Lag

Updated on November 7, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to fly to Chengdu, China. This was the first time I was on a long haul flight and I did extensive reading on tips and tricks to beat jetlag. Before my flight, I read every article on the subject and found, and some had great tips and others not so great tips on the matter. I have tried the following tips and they worked 100% for me, to such an extent that I have not experienced jetlag. I must just add that it could differ from person to person but I’m sure that these tips will work for everyone to an extent. I would suggest trying out different combinations to see what works for you.

Some background

The time difference between South Africa and China is about 6 hours and I have heard that for every time zone you jump you need one-day recovery and luckily this rule did not count for me. My first flight to China left at about 12:00 South African time and my flight landed 07:00 China time. The second Flight left 23:55 China time and landed 6:50 South African time.

Before your flight

This was something that I think definitely played a major role in getting my brain into the right “mood” and it was to adjust my bedtime to China’s clock a week before I left for China. This made the first day on China bearable and by the time the sunset and it was time to go to bed I was tired.

On the aeroplane

This was something that I did not even think of when asking to the question what can I do to beat jetlag. But on the flight make sure that you keep yourself hydrated and avoid alcohol as this will further dehydrate you. We all know that when you are flying you tend to get dehydrated extremely quickly and keeping hydrated just makes the transitioning into the new time zone a bit easier on your body.

Before you embark onto the aeroplane set your watches to the destination time. This will start to prepare you psychologically for the time zone you are entering.

Your sleeping pattern is still important to maintain and try to do so on your flight. If you have a long flight and it spans over the night time of your destination try to get some shut-eye, and the opposite is true don’t sleep on a flight if it’s the middle of the day at your destination. This trick will help to easier synchronise with the new time zone.

If you are going to take a nap on the flight remember ear plugs and eye shades. And yes I know you will look uncool wearing eyeshades and earplugs but believe me you will thank me later. The annoying bright light of those screens and humming sound of the aircraft engines will affect the quality of your sleep and will make you feel even more jetlag at your destination

After the flight

I personally think that this is the most important part of the anti-jetlag routine. And it is to only go to sleep once it’s time to do so. The whole idea of beating jet lag is to try and reset your internal circadian rhythm to the new time zone. I remembered landing in China I felt like there is nothing more in this world that I want than taking a nap. But goal set on not having jet lag we dropped our bags at the hostel and went exploring. Later that night around 20:00 we decided to go to bed, waking up refresh and rested out the next morning as if we never spend 30 hours travelling.

Things to stay away from

Again I need to emphasize this is only my personal opinion and what worked for me and this might be something that could work for you. The first thing to avoid is to take a short nap when you arrive at the destination, in some cases I could understand why you would do so but this would completely through off your circadian rhythm and the opportunity to sleep longer than intended is there causing you to wake up at 23:00 wide awake and the next morning at 10:00 you want to bed.

The second thing I would try and avoid as much as possible is to use sleeping pills to try and get your body into a new rhythm. In theory, it could work but I would rather try and get my body to readjust on its own for the fear that the pills might have other side effects causing you to feel foggy on your trip.

Comment below on what tips and tricks you use when you are traveling abroad.

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      19 months ago from UK

      I have never gone far enough to experience jet lag, but you give some good tips in this article.

    • poppyr profile image


      19 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      There are some good tips here. I definitely agree that trying to sleep in your new destination's time zone is a good idea, but I imagine it's difficult to actually do so. Well done managing to sleep in China time for a week before you went there! I didn't realise alcohol played a part in making your jet lag worse; maybe I'll tell my husband that before he tries to drink the whole plane's supply of wine again!


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