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8 ESSENTIAL Tips to Help You Get Over Jet Lag

Whether it’s a long flight “home,” a business trip or a well-deserved vacation, many expats are no strangers to jet lag.

While we’re not sure a tried and true cure exists, there are lots of tips you can try. Here’s a roundup of some of the more popular suggestions and a few more obscure that we want to test!

1. Sleeping on the plane

Most experts agree that in general, you should aim adjust to the time at your destination as soon as possible. Therefore, you should sleep only if it’s nighttime at your destination. Ideally, you should start to shift your bedtime and hour or so earlier for the few days before the flight. (We are in awe of those disciplined enough to do this.)

2. Watching movies on the plane

If you are trying to sleep, don’t watch the movies hoping they’ll put you to sleep. For much the same reason you are encouraged to put down your iPads, phones and any other screens before heading to bed, the light from the movies can have the opposite effect and keep you awake.

3. Having a drink (or 2)

Try to avoid alcohol. Not only is it dehydrating (as is flying), but it can also make you feel more groggy which can hinder your attempts at acclimating upon arrival. Instead, drink lots of water.

4. Sleeping pills

Many people hope a sleep pill is the magic cure for jet lag but be careful. Most sleeping pills are designed to last at least 7-8 hours. If your flight is shorter than this, it’s best to avoid as you will still be feeling the effects at your destination. If you do have a long flight ahead of you, the experts interviewed by Forbes suggest consulting a doctor and trying the medication at home first. This way, you will have an idea how effective the medication is and how your body will react to it.

5. Avoid naps

Naps are probably the most universally agreed upon rule of avoiding jet lag. The rule? NO naps. Waking from a nap when jet lag can be nearly impossible (especially if it the kids who are napping!). You’ll most likely sleep the day away and in turn, be up all night, further fueling the vicious cycle of jet lag. Try to stay awake as long as possible without a nap even if that means a much earlier bed time than normal. Each day, try to stay awake later and later — without a nap during the day.

6. Get lots of sunshine

Sunshine can work wonders at resetting your internal clock. When you reach your destination, try to get as much sunshine as possible. Not only will this help you to adjust but if you’re feeling particularly sleepy, the sunshine can help keep you awake.

7. Lavender oil

Lavender oil has long been touted as a sleep enhancer. In a small 2005 study by Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn) psychologist, lavendar was found to be a mild sedetive. If you’d prefer not to take a sleeping pill, lavendar might be a good option to help you get some sleep.

8. Fast

Fasting has not yet become one of the go-to tips to beat jet lag but it is gaining some momentum. In a May 2008 issue of the journal Science, researchers from Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that mice had an internal food clock that could be adjusted by a period of fasting (similar to your body’s circadian rhythm — driven primarily by light). Essentially, you can “reset” you body’s clock by fasting for a period of about 16 hours.  You can read a more technical explanation here.

Safe travels!


By Kathleen Siddell / Updated September 2019 

Photo: 123rf.com

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