PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
A few basic steps may help prevent jet lag or reduce its effects:
- Arrive early. If you have an important meeting or other event that requires you to be in top form, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust.
- Get plenty of rest before your trip. Starting out sleep-deprived makes jet lag worse.
- Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. If you're traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you're flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you'll be eating them at your destination.
Regulate bright light exposure. Because light exposure is one of the prime influences on your body's circadian rhythm, regulating light exposure may help you adjust to your new location.
If you have traveled east, wear sunglasses and avoid bright light in the morning, and then allow as much sunlight as possible in the late afternoon for the first few days in your new location. If you have traveled west, avoid sunlight a few hours before dark for the first few days to adjust to the local time.
- Stay on your new schedule. Set your watch to the new time before you leave. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until the local nighttime, no matter how tired you are.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air. Dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can dehydrate you and affect your sleep.
- Try to sleep on the plane if it's nighttime at your destination. Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help block out noise and light. If it's daytime where you're going, resist the urge to sleep.
- Herxheimer A. Jet lag. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 24, 2012.
- Kolla BP, et al. Jet lag and shift work sleep disorders: How to help reset the internal clock. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2011;78:675.
- Morgenthaler TI, et al. Practice parameters for the clinical evaluation and treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Sleep. 2007;30:1445.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Jet lag. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Disorder.aspx?id=9. Accessed Oct. 24, 2012.
- Sack RL. Jet lag. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;362:440.
- Auger RR, et al. Jet lag and other sleep disorders relevant to the traveler. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2009;7:60.
- Sleep disorders and CAM: At a glance. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/sleep/ataglance.htm. Accessed Nov. 7, 2012.
- Morgenthaler TI (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 30, 2012.