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Overcoming jet lag without medications

published: 08-18-2011 Journal entry icon

If you’ve ever switched times zones, even as little as one hour, you may be aware that it can disturb your sleep and even disorient you in the following days. Without taking any medicinal countermeasures, you can typically adapt to your new time zone with about one hour of extra sleep per day after arrival (depending on with direction you’re traveling). However, some operations require that you be able to perform within 24 hours of arrival. To better prepare and adjust to your new time zone, use these strategies:

  • One week before you travel, adjust your sleep schedule about one hour per night towards the time zone you are flying in—i.e., if flying eastward, go to bed and get up earlier; if flying westward, sleep later.
  • Before you take off and while on the aircraft, eat light snacks, avoid alcohol, and stay hydrated (with water).
  • On the aircraft, make sure that you are comfortable and able to nap before you arrive at your destination.
  • Setting your watch to your new time zone as soon as you board your flight will help you transition.
  • Take a short nap when you arrive at your new location, if you’re able to do so.

For more information, read the sections on jet lag in this article on sleep rhythms.