Tips on beating jet lag

Written by    Last updated: September 4, 2007

Suffering from jet lag can mean losing precious holiday time through feeling ill or falling asleep. To minimise the effects of jet lag, follow these handy tips…

Suffering from jet lag can mean losing precious holiday time through feeling ill or falling asleep. To minimise the effects of jet lag, follow these handy tips…

Before the journey

  • If possible, choose flight timings that are designed to minimise jet lag.
  • Don’t have a busy work or social schedule just before the flight.
  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before flying.
  • Have a healthy meal with plenty of carbohydrates and green vegetables to help build up your body’s defences.
  • Don’t be tempted to start your holiday early by hitting the airport bar for a large beer or eating a greasy fry‐up.
  • Set your watch to your destination time before boarding the plane and plan your sleeping and eating times around that (airlines don’t always bear this in mind!).

During the flight

  • No matter how tempting, avoid alcohol and coffee as these stimulants adversely affect your body clock.
  • Drink plenty of still water (fizzy drinks, including sparkling water are best avoided) to avoid getting dehydrated.
  • Avoid your joints from stiffening, by getting up and walking around, even if it’s just to get some more water.
  • Visit the loo frequently during a long flight – with all that water you’ll be drinking, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • While seated, improve your circulation by swirling both your ankles from time to time. Do this first clock‐wise and then in an anti‐clockwise direction.
  • If it’s night‐time at your destination at any time during your flight, then try and sleep at that time. However, its best to avoid taking sleeping pills during the flight, instead get some good quality ear plugs and eye shades.

Once you get there

  • Get into the local rhythm as soon as you arrive.
  • Accept that some amount of jet lag is inevitable, particularly if you’re flying from West to East, which is contrary to the movement of the sun.  Don’t overload your timetable for a day or so after arrival, giving your body time to adjust to the new timing.
  • Keep your first few meals nourishing and not too heavy. Continue with drinking plenty of water.
  • Tread water in the shallow end of the swimming pool, as this will help improve circulation in the feet and legs.
  • If your hotel offers a complimentary massage or spa treatment, make use of this as soon as you arrive, when you’ll need it the most.

Complimentary therapies

The following alternative therapies can help in beating jet lag:

You can buy special jet‐lag kits with essential oils to dab on to your wrists, temples and ankles. Some oils that aid stimulation are grapefruit, cardamom and rosemary, while relaxing ones include lavender and mandarin.

Traditional remedies that are calming are passionflower, camomile, valerian, hops and pulsatilla, which can be bought as teas or as tablets in health shops.


Taking the remedy, Cocculus, twice a day is sometimes recommended as it deals with the effects of sleep deprivation. Arnica is another good jet lag remedy. Contact a homeopathic pharmacist for advice.

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