Archive: Jet Lag Cures
While some cures are worse than the disease itself, a little thoughtfulness can minimize the fuzziness of jet lag. What tricks help you minimize the symptoms of jet lag?
I have traveled across the Atlantic several times and I think there is no
way to prevent jet lag, but you can manage it. My favorite way is to arrive
early afternoon and plan a half day of touring, then dinner at the local
dinnertime. Fight the urge to rest after the flight because that does not
allow the body clock to reset. As advised, do not drink coffee and only
have 1 bottle of wine with dinner (after all, it is Europe). The next morning
I am alway ready to go.
Livingston, NJ USA 10/01/99
Lots of juice. We try to check into our hotel & take a 1-1/2-hr. nap — no
more. Then get up, and take a walking tour. I still wind up waking up early
the first few days, but I feel pretty good the first day after the nap.
Denver, CO USA 08/28/99
Is one or two glasses of wine with dinner really so bad? I agree with
the other suggestions to avoid caffeine, which I do religiously when I fly
domestic or international. But I usually have a glass of wine with dinner,
then I take a melatonin and go to sleep. When I get to my destination I
just keep going, even if I'm a little tired. I've never had a serious jet
miami, fl USA 08/16/99
As a flight attendant I cross the Atlantic 5-6 times per month. What
seems to work for us is: drink lots of water inflight. Bring a bottle and
we will be happy to refill it for you. Do not drink liquor or coffee. When
you get to the hotel, sleep in 4-hour increments. A passenger once told
me that is how long the sleep cycle is and it seems to be true.
London,England, UK 08/15/99
Our flight landed at 7:00 am London time. We just acted like it was
the start of our day and kept going. We turned in about 9:00 pm. We were
tired but woke up refreshed and ready to go. Never had any problem with
Houston, Tx USA 08/15/99
This technique works for me:
— Get less sleep and eat less than normal the few days before leaving.
— On the plane select juice from the drinks offered.
— And don't think about what time it is back home. When your companion says, "Back home it must be now about...," interrupt and say, "Don't tell me; I don't want to know."
— Change the time on your watch upon takeoff.
Detroit, MI USA 08/04/99
I agree with Katie. I drank tons of water on the flight to London from L.A.
and followed the FAST/FEAST diet (Arginon Labs) which I swear by. I did
not have one moment of jet lag and made an easy transition to the new destinations
time zone. Also don't drink alcohol on the way.
Los Angeles, Ca USA 07/14/99
Water yourself. If you drink amazing amounts of cold water it will
float you through the jet lag. Then go to bed at a normal time, not before
9PM. Works for me.
Katie R. Carter
Concord, CA USA 07/04/99
No Jet Lag natural jet lag cure is a homeopathic and therefore cannot
cause side effects such as an upset stomach. However, I am a homeopathic
practioner and have found INDIVIDUAL homeopathic remedies much more effective.
Call your local homeopath before your trip for a personalized remedy.
Romeo , MI USA 07/02/99
I fly all over the world and have tried several methods. I will never
use melatonin again; it gave me nightmares and made me feel bad. I think
drinking on the plane is bad too.
San Francisco, CA USA 06/24/99
Drinking a few glasses of wine (if you normally don't) will help put you to sleep. You'll then wake up more refreshed than if you hadn't rested at all.
The No-Jet-Lag natural remedy is a farce as far as I'm concerned. All
it seems to cause is an upset stomach if you're not adjusted to the tablet's
ingredients, and it's really sweet tasting at that. Instead, for a couple
days, try not interfering too much in your body's natural routine before
you begin any long flights...and bring the eyeshades and earplugs also.
San Jose, Ca USA 06/20/99
One of my German colleagues swears that he has a bottle of red wine and 2(!) melatonins, then sleeps like a baby. I could do that and cross the Atlantic about six times before I woke up. Whatever works.
If you are going to use melatonin, try it first on a 'normal' night — some of us react differently to that stuff. It's natural, true, but so is poison ivy.
I've posted nice comments about no-jet-lag in the past, but last trip
it didn't seem so effective. I'm not totally convinced that this isn't
a placebo, but it has no nasty side effects, so I'll continue to use it.
Derby, UK 06/02/99
What works for me: NO FOOD OR ALCOHOL on the plane — eat before you
get on and only drink water. If you can't sleep, at least wear an eyeshade
and earplugs and rest. Once you're at your destination, stay out in the
sun as much as you can, keep active and go to bed at a "normal" bedtime,
not before 9:00 PM.
Plymouth, WI USA 05/29/99
I travel to Europe a few times a year and I think my body is getting used to being abused by time zones. However, my typical way of handling jet lag is going to bed extra early about 2 nights before a trip. The day of my trip, I'll go to bed around 7PM (using a sleep aid usually) and wake up at 2AM. This puts me on European time. I immediately have coffee and breakfast and if possible, try to watch a movie or something to get myself mentally stimulated (someone once suggested taping the previous day's morning news and watching it then). After the first coffee, I take no more caffeine the rest of the day and drink lots of water and eat green vegetables and protein.
By the time the dinner is served on the flight, I have been up nearly 12 hours and fall dead asleep (or I take another herbal sleep aid). No alcohol or caffeine until they serve breakfast on the flight.
I check in and try to take a hot shower right away. I will allow myself a 1-2 hour nap if I'm really exhausted (respect your body if it's really not happy). Then I go for a walk in search of a can of Red Bull energy drink which carries me without any caffeine shakes through to 12-2AM (drink a half a can if you don't want to go all night). By the time I go to bed, I'm tired from a full day and I sleep through the night, no problem. Then I go to sleep and naturally wake up the following morning and all is settled.
The only thing that is difficult to adjust is hunger patterns, but if
you're going to a country with a siesta or long meal hours, it's a seamless
Precondition yourself. Three or four days before departure, advance bedtime
and wake up an hour later each day. This is the rate at which the circadian
clock resets. Any remaining time difference is easily handled.
Dallas, TX USA 05/22/99
I had a small bottle of the Body Shop Bergamot oil in my purse. I found
that taking a sniff of it periodically during my 8-hour flight did lift
my spirits. Next time I will arrange my flight so I can check in my hotel
immediately to take about a 3-hour nap.
TX USA 05/20/99
I followed the Argonne diet once as well, and although I THINK I adapted
a bit faster than usual, I had the most dreadful caffeine withdrawal! It
made my last week at home miserable. Due to that and the relative complexity
of the diet I won't be trying it again!
Los Altos, CA USA 05/01/99
I followed the Argonne National Laboratories "Jet Lag Diet" four days
before our trip to Paris. It tells you what to eat on "feast" days and what
to eat on "fast" days, and of course alcohol and caffeine are no-no's. My
husband chose not to follow the diet and had a difficult time adjusting
in Paris. I was fine. In addition, I took a Tylenol sleep pill on the plane.
Camp Hill, Pa. USA 04/25/99
Avoid caffeine and alcohol and stay extra hydrated. My trick? Carry on your own water — icy cold (more appetizing).
I freeze 2 or 3 bottles of spring water the day before I leave, take it out of the freezer just as I'm leaving, and take them in my carry-on. By the time I am in flight, they are ready to start sipping. Because it takes 12+ hours for them to melt fully, I have 3 icy bottles going the whole flight, and oftentimes am still sipping on the way to the B&B or hotel on the other end.
Some may complain about the extra weight in the carry-on, but if you
drink them in flight, you're that much lighter when you get where you're
going (although may have a few more trips to the restroom in store!).
This has worked well on 9 trips to Europe, with minimal jetlag — if any.
Beverly, MA USA 04/23/99
I've travelled to England several times, always on a weeknight after working most of the day, and never suffered from jet lag. Why? I stay up most of the night before, finishing my packing, and sleep only a few hours before work. No caffeine all day, light meals, and just before getting on the plane I take a couple valerian capsules. These are herb capsules, taste bad but work like Valium or PM tablets but with no drugged effect the next morning. I eat on the plane then sleep. Still no caffeine or alcohol and I arrive in the wee hours my time, but I wake refreshed to local time. As soon as I get off the plane, I find the nearest restroom to use a Wash N Dry on my face and neck, change my underwear and grab a bottle of water. Once at my destination, I take a shower, a 20-minute walk (best time to go to the TI!) and have a light meal. By 9 or 10 p.m. I'm definitely ready for bed and I sleep peacefully the whole night.
Going home is usually worse for me — I usually get home in the late afternoon
and it's hard to stay up until 8 or 9 p.m.! Last trip I came home a day
earlier than I normally would have so that I would have an extra day to
recover. Worked like a charm!
i find that a glass of 1984 cockburn's with a sharp cheddar does the
trick. repeat as needed throughout day.
new york, ny USA 03/30/99
Always avoid alcohol & drink lots of water on the airplane. Guarana
500mg — 1200 mg is a gentle herbal stimulant with no side effects. It can
be found in any health-food store in US & Europe. When flying to Europe,
I take 2 1200 mg tablets with some Gatorade or sports drink when I arrive
at the hotel and supplement a few tablets throughout the first day if energy
lags. I don't nap my first day and go to bed that first night at normal
local time. The second day I take a few guarana tablets as needed. Works
NYC, NY USA 03/30/99
All the usual recommendations work well for us, but staying up until at
least 10:00pm at the new destination seems to make the most difference.
Sometimes it's really hard, but if you MUST have a midday nap, keep it short — an hour or so. I like "No-Jet-Lag," my husband doesn't. I've puchased
it at travel stores, but recently found it at Trader Joe's here in California.
Stockton, CA USA 02/28/99
As a former military member who traveled extensively, the only thing
that I found that worked for me was getting some sleep on the plane (a glass
of wine helped), and staying up until normal bedtime when I got there. I
was not allowed to use any type of drugs, and had to be sharp within 24
hours of arrival. In 12 years of constant travel, I have only suffered from "jet lag" on the first day.
Denver, CO USA 01/24/99
I find myself in agreement with those who favor a medical solution to the
problem. I have flown around the globe numerous times and have tried numerous
cures, but the only sure-fire way to prevent jet lag is a Valium tablet
taken after dinner on the airplane. I have no problem getting to sleep soon
after, and I wake up before landing already "believing" in the local time.
The excitement of being away from home, combined with a little "mind over
matter" philosophy and the drug-induced sleep during the flight, all add
up to a jet-lag free trip, and one that gives maximum enjoyment as a result.
Port Chester, NY USA 01/06/99
I find that travelling east tends to increases the amount of jet lag that
I suffer. (West coast travellers might consider Europe via Seoul or Tokyo)
Travelling west, flying overnight and drinking lots of H2O improves the
Canberra, ACT Australia 01/04/99
My best advice is to stay up until a fairly normal bedtime at your
destination. This may mean you're up for 24 hours or more, but when you
crash, you will get a good rest. I've never had jet lag with this practice.
On a recent trip to Asia, however, I spent one entire day dozing on and
off. When I returned to US, I had "jet lag" for two weeks, suffering extreme
tiredness about 5-6 PM every day! (Pretty scary in nighttime commute traffic.)
It was only later that my wife and I realized that our fatigue was due to
the anti-malarial drugs we were taking! (Only one pill, once a week.) So
watch your meds; they can be more effective than you might expect!
Novato, CA USA 12/31/98
I heartily recommend No Jet Lag (bought mine through Magellan's, but it's
available in many travel stores too. Check it out on the Web at www.nojetlag.com).
I just traveled from Boston, Mass., to Thailand and back. This is the first
time I tried No Jet Lag. I've done a lot of travelling and never felt this
good (tho this was farther afield than ever) — I have to attribute it to
the No Jet Lag. (Also did the usual things I've always done, like drink
lots of water, walk around the plane every so often, and set my watch to
the time "over there" right away. I think these all help, but the big difference
this time was the use of No Jet Lag.)
Natick, MA USA 12/07/98
This is a jet lag cure for your camera. Be sure and reset date on camera
just like your watch or all your pictures will be off on the imprinted date.
Sequim, WA USA 12/01/98
With a new job I travel to London at least once a month, and most of
the time I need to be alert the moment I arrive, and for the whole day.
I live in California and so I've got 8 hours to make up. My trick is to
wake up extra early the day of the trip (appx. 3 hours), after going to
bed only slightly earlier the night before (appx 1 hour). I turn on all
the lights and start a normal day with a slightly shifted eating schedule.
At noon I hop on the flight to London, eat dinner with a couple glasses
of red wine, and by the end of the meal I'm exhausted from the day. I can
then sleep for 7 hours+, and wake up refreshed. I go about my business that
day feeling pretty normal until 8 or 9 in the evening when it all catches
up. I then crash at 9 or 10 for 9 hours of sleep, and the next morning I'm
up at 7, all adjusted and ready for another full day.
San Francisco, CA USA 11/28/98
Avoid alcohol and caffeine until you have landed. En route, ask for
lemonade, mineral water, etc. Also, the "normal" dose of melatonin is 3mcg,
that's 3 micrograms, not milligrams. Many OTC melatonin capsules are much
larger, which can leave you disoriented the next day. Buon Viaggio!
Los Angeles, CA USA 11/28/98
Set your watch to the local time before you land and DO NOT spend your trip
saying or thinking, "Back home it's such and such a time." Don't worry about
what time it is back home unless you plan to phone home.
1 no booze...ok maybe glass of wine
2 lots of water
3 halcyon to get sleep on night flight
4 1 mg melatonia at bed time for first few nights
This really works well. This is the only time I take halcyon or melatonin, but it works great.
Seattle , wa USA 11/19/98
Definately recommend buying "No Jet Lag". Best $10 investment you can
make, and YES it works!! Available at most travel stores.
San Jose, CA USA 11/18/98
I am very sensitive to jet lag and found several techniques to add
comfort to sleeping on the plane. First, the day before the flight I get
a full night of sleep, eat light well-balanced meals with no caffeine; make
sure I drink plenty of water to offset the dry air in the plane. I try to
sleep a few hours on the plane and take along an inflatable head rest and
an herbal pillow to improve my rest. Once arriving in Europe I try to stay
active, eat lightly, and go to sleep early in the evening European time.
The next morning I feel refreshed and ready to enjoy Europe!
Reading, PA USA 11/06/98
I've gone several times to Europe without any serious jet-lag because
I wear two watches! One should be set to your "normal" at-home time, and
the other for your destination time. The closer you get to where you're
going, the more you should look at the "new" time. It really does help!
I think it is easier going from here to Europe because of the anticipation,
and more difficult to return (no matter what hour I leave or return) because
upon return, there's the usual routine and piles of mail and stuff to do — that's enough to make anyone out-of-sorts!!
WI USA 11/04/98
As US exapts living in UK, after 14 transatlantic round trips, we've learned:
Flying Europe to USA: never a problem. You wind up awake 24 hours straight, recover quickly.
Flying USA to Europe:
(1) Use No-Jet-Lag; it does work. Looks like quack medicine, but I tried it and for the first time, didn't walk around England like a zombie for 2 days. We've all wasted $10 on worse.
(2) When you arrive in Europe, take a 2-hour nap (say, noon-2pm). It will seem like you can't wake up after the nap, but you can (and must).
(3) Then stay up until a normal time, like 9 or 10pm (local time).
(4) For the first two nights in Europe, take something to help you sleep (I use Tylenol PM). If you don't, you'll wake up at 1-2am with your eyes glued open!
(5) No matter when you come to England it will be raining.
Derby, UK 11/04/98
Last three trips to Italy I have started going to bed a half hour earlier
and rising a half hour earlier about two weeks before the trip. So I nap
some on the overnight flight and arrive at the time I just got up the day
before. No jet lag and right on Italian time from then on.
Ashland, NH USA 11/04/98
I expose myself (!) to the sun as often as possible, for 5 or 6 days
upon arrival home — especially during the period of time when it is DARK
in the country I just came from. A miracle!: only one or 2 nights of restless
sleep, and after that back to normal. Karen Shoup, Riverbank, Ca.
Karen R. Shoup
Riverbank, Ca USA 11/04/98
After your arrival (at your vacation destination or coming back home)
spend as much time as you can out in the sun. This helps your body clock
readjust to whatever the local time is.
Santa Clara, CA USA 11/04/98
I found that drug-induced sleep on the plane is the best way to survive
a trip to Europe. If you sleep on the plane, if it is morning when you arrive,
you can force yourself to stay awake till around 5 or 6 in the evening.
Then go to bed and get up at a normal time the next morning. If you arrive
in the evening, you are still tired enough to go to sleep after reaching
the hotel. Get up at normal time in the morning. Sleeping on the plane helps
make the time go faster, too.
Washington, DC USA 11/04/98
I've traveled to Europe 3 times in 6 weeks. I can't sleep on overnight
flights. When I arrive in Europe (dead tired) I first take a refreshing
shower. I do not unpack, but go for a light meal and leisure walking and
touring nearby, and I stay awake until early evening, then go to bed and
set my alarm clock to awake on European time. I'm fit as a fiddle, raring
to go on European time. If you go directly to sleep, you wake up in mid
evening and by the time you become accustomed to your new time, it's time
to return. No medication — just common sense.
Michael J. Riti
Valley Stream, NY USA 11/03/98
Stay away from alcohol and caffeine while flying to your destination.
Gradually ramp-up your consumption [why not?] after you have arrived. Same
for the trip home.
Marc St. Martin
Livermore, CA USA 11/03/98
I just returned from a trip to London flying non-stop from San Francisco
and experienced minimal problems. How? NO ALCOHOL and lots of water — that
means bring your own and get two or three glasses every time the attendants
come through. Set your watch to European time on take-off and get on that
schedule when you arrive.
San Francisco, CA USA 11/03/98
Take No Jet-Lag pills — one before leaving and one every 2 hours you're
in the air. Worked for us flying from CA to Europe. Check it out at www.nojetlag.com
Lompoc, CA USA 10/26/98
Just follow the advice in the Rick Steves books. My first trip to Europe
was a year ago and I had minimal problem using the ETBD methods.
Sacramento, CA USA 10/23/98
Early to bed, early to rise before you leave. Try to sleep on the plane — NO alcohol. When you arrive make sure that you IMMEDIATELY become aware
of the local time and adjust accordingly. Do not go to bed until it is close
to your normal time (according to your now adjusted watch). Also, if you
are flying from the USA have a thought for those of us flying from Australia/New
Zealand. We leave in the morning and arrive 24 hours later. That's when
jet lag can really kick in.
Adelaide, SA Australia 10/23/98
Prepare in advance. I normally get up about 7 A.M. I started getting
up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. I would do this for 3-4 days and then
get up an additional 30 minutes earlier. I managed to push my rising time
to 3 A.M. I got a lot done in the morning, but had to go to bed early at
night. I also took eye blinders and ear plugs along on the flight. I skipped
the movie and meal, took 2 Tylenol PM's after the plane took off and slept
all the way to England. Arrived awake and refreshed with no jet lag. It
Manitowoc, WI USA 10/22/98
After my overnight flight into London from JFK I wanted to be as coherent
as possible and I didn't want to take any medication. The day of my flight
I ate no solid food, and drank only non-carbonated fluids, in an attempt
to set my clock ahead. It was a struggle not to eat the amazing meal served
on my BA flight, especially the chocolate-banana gateau! I instead tried
to sleep and when I woke up I brushed my teeth and changed my clothes.
I experienced no jet lag and by 10 pm that night I was having a great
time out on the town.
RTP, NC USA 06/19/98
On our way to the Orly airport from Nice, my four college friends and
I took an overnight train in order to arrive in Paris early the following
morning. We had a couchette and slept relatively well with a few bumps
and noises along the way, of course. When I arrived at the Paris-Lyon
train station the next morning I took the metro straight to the airport
to wait for my flight. Once I made it on the plane, my travels beginning
from the night before let me sleep a good five hours on the plane. When
I arrived home, I was going strong until 10:00 pm that evening when I
finally hit the hay. So a little intense traveling before your flight
might help you sleep better on the plane and ultimately prevent jet lag
New York, NY USA 06/13/98
My four college friends and I took an overnight train from Nice to Paris
in order to arrive in Paris for our flight out the following morning.
We had a couchette and slept relatively well, but left me tired enough
that I slept a good five hours on the plane. When I arrived home, I was
going strong until 10:00 pm. So a little intense traveling before your
flight might help you sleep better on the plane and ultimately prevent
jet lag altogether.
New York, NY USA 06/13/98
The last two times I went to Europe, I flew from the East Coast on IcelandAir.
It broke the trip up into two manageable parts (of about 4 hours each)
with an hour layover at Keflavik, Iceland. It's a great airport with enough
shops etc. to keep you busy for that short period of time. If you have
time they also offer short tours to the surrounding areas.
Halifax, NS CANADA 06/09/98
I take a late afternoon flight, fight for a window seat, sleep (or at
least close my eyes and try to sleep) on the plane and drink lots (lots!)
of water. When I arrive, I act according to local time, except that I'm
likely to go to bed at 7 p.m. with 3-6 mg of melatonin. When I wake up,
often a full 12 hours later, I'm on local time.
Indianapolis, IN USA 06/07/98
This was only my first trip to Europe but I didn't have any jet lag.
I drank lots of water and took two Valerian tablets which made me drowsy.
When we arrived in Italy we stayed up til 11 pm. On the return trip it
wasn't so easy but the grogginess only lasted 'til the next day.
Quite by accident I discovered my cure for jet lag. On arrival at my hotel
at noon, I fell asleep, and awoke late in the afternoon. I ate dinner,
spent the evening walking around Stockholm, and went to bed at a reasonable
hour, got up the next day and never suffered those horrible days of grogginess.
I have followed this routine on every trip since and have had the same
We had excellent results with homeopathic NoJetLag [see Chris Doerr's
posting]. We flew to/from San Francisco and London and we felt great both
Menlo Park, CA USA 06/02/98
I time the flight for an evening departure, take 1 mg. of melatonin
(about a third of the typical tablet or capsule) right after the in-flight
meal, drink plenty of mineral water and orange juice while avoiding caffeine
and alcohol, wear a mask/earplugs/neck pillow/blankets, and most importantly,
reserve a window seat well away from the toilets and, on 747's, the front
seats where they always put families with small children. On arrival,
I take a two-hour afternoon nap for the first couple of days, if needed.
Boise, ID USA 06/02/98
Both my wife and I use the Argonne Diet [see Mardee's posting below]
in combination with the melatonin protocol developed in part by Alfred
J Lewy, MD of the Oregon Health Sciences University. It works amazingly
well. I had negligible jet lag effect on the day of arrival in Paris and,
by the next day, virtually none. My wife believes the melatonin is more
helpful than the diet.
Portland, OR USA 06/02/98
If you land in London, see a play at the New Globe Theatre. Nothing
cured sitting in an airplane for 14 hours like standing 3 1/2 hours watching
Gilroy, CA USA 06/02/98
Doctors may discourage this but I take 2 Ny-Quil capsules to help me
sleep on the airplane. I also have an inflatable neck pillows so my head
doesn't bob when I fall asleep. I did this the last time I flew to London
and when I arrived at 9am I was awake and ready to see the city!
Austin, TX USA 06/02/98
After trying to stay up until a decent bedtime on our first eight trips,
we gave up and now take a 90-minute nap in the early afternoon of the
arrival day. We set an alarm and get up, shower and do the town. We look
for activities such as walking tours to keep us active and motivated.
This usually keeps us alert until bedtime and, most importantly, we're
able to sleep until a decent hour the next day and adjust to local time
Gladstone, MO USA 05/31/98
We've used the "No Jet Lag" homeopathic remedy on our last three trips
with great success. It can be ordered from www.magellans.com (Magellan's
online catalog), or the maker has a web site at 222.nojetlag.com. You
chew one tablet at takeoff, one every two hours in flight, and one at
Vashon Island, WA USA 05/27/98
I'd rather adjust to the time difference while I'm at home, so I set
my personal body clock forward an hour a day for a week. A week before
leaving, I start living 23-hour days. Each day, I get up an hour earlier,
eat meals an hour earlier, and go to bed an hour or two earlier. So, over
the course of a week, I have set myself to the seven-hour time difference.
It looks weird to go to bed at 3 pm and set your alarm for midnight, but
it feels perfectly normal by the time you get to that point! En route,
I tell the flight attendant that I won't be eating dinner, pile on the
blankets, and go back to sleep. By the time I arrive, it feels like 10
am to me, with no further adjustment necessary!
Austin, TX USA 05/26/98
I take flights that arrive in Europe in the early morning. On the flight,
I skip the meals and only drink a glass of wine, then lots of mineral
water. I take 1/2 a melatonin about an hour before I want to get some
shuteye. And as weird as it may look, I use an eye mask, ear plugs, two
blankets and pillows to ensure sleep. Upon arrival, I go to the hotel
and even though I can't check in, they always let me leave my bag. Then
I walk, spending the day in the sunlight, drinking lots more bottled water.
I eat a light dinner about 5 PM, and at a normal bedtime I take another
melatonin. I'm usually settled in by the second day.
Modesto, CA USA 05/26/98
It is important to get as much sleep as possible on the plane, and if you're like me, you'll need all the help you can get (melatonin, Tylenol PM, or sleeping pills). Once at your destination, I find it best to keep moving (preferably outside) rather than nap. I generally use the time spent walking to orient myself to the city. Don't try and do too much the first day, and get to bed by 8 or 9 p.m.
Many swear by the Anti-Jet-Lag Diet developed by Dr. Charles F. Ehret
of the Argonne National Laboratory's division of Biological and Medical
Research. Starting four days before departure, you follow a regimen of
alternately "feasting" and "fasting" to get your body adjusted. You can
write for a free wallet-sized copy of the diet to Argonne National Laboratory,
9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, IL 60439.
Cincinnati, OH USA 05/24/98
When I arrive in Europe, I simply do what I feel like at the time and
don't fight what my body tells me: I sleep when I am tired and get up
when I am wide awake. I have seen the early morning routines of many cities,
from the vegetable vendors setting up shop, to the street cleaners, to
the canal boat drivers washing their windows for the day's tours. I have
also done laundry at 4 am and written in my journal at 6 am. I don't feel
that it has extended jet lag at all, as I have done it both ways and prefer
it to some of the "out of body experiences" I have had when I try to fight
Mpls, MN USA 05/22/98
One of the causes of jet lag is the anxiety connected with the trip.
Melatonin can help some, and inflatable neck pillows work for those able
to nap en route, but I suggest getting a reliable alarm clock to assure
that a post-arrival nap does not become the big sleep. Those I know who
travel extensively (250,000+ air miles per year) don't get jet lag. Concentrate
on comfort in the air so you don't arrive with a stiff whatever. Remember,
walking around Paris on three hours' sleep is better than dreaming about
walking about Paris from a Paris hotel room.
What really helps me is watching what I eat and drink before, during,
and after the flight. I can never fall asleep on flights, and I gave up
on friends' advice to have a few beers to get relaxed — I only felt dehydrated.
Instead, I started drinking lots of mineral water en route. And though
I'm not a vegetarian, I request those meals because they are a lot easier
on a confused stomach.
We make ourselves stay awake until a normal, but early, dinner and bedtime
on arrival day, set our alarm clocks for seven-ish the next morning, and
don't seem to have many problems, except in dark theaters the first few
We follow Rick's advice in his "Europe Through the Back Door" book.
In addition, on the first evening at our destination, we take a small
portion, about1/8 tablet, of melatonin to help set our biological clock
to the new time zone.