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Cars & travel.

Updated: 5 Aug 2021

How to avoid jet lag

Don't arrive at your destination feeling exhausted. Follow Which?'s five top tips and you won't have to worry about jet lag on holiday.
Which?Editorial team
woman wearing face mask on a plane

Jet lag is the disruption of the body’s biological clock, which occurs when you cross time zones at a speed that outstrips your body’s natural ability to adjust. 

It's not the length of the flight, but the amount of time zones that causes jet lag. This means that jet lag can affect anyone, but those with strict routines are likely to get hit the hardest.

1. Adjust your watch

To start getting your head around changing time zones, adjust your watch to local time as soon as you are seated on the plane. Another way to prepare is to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier if you’re travelling east – or the opposite if you’re travelling west – a few days before your flight. This will help your body clock get used to a new sleep schedule.

2. Plan your flight time

It’s easier to adapt to a longer rather than a shorter day, because it’s easier to put off sleep than to force it. So if you’re flying east, book a flight in the morning and try stay awake until local time's evening. Flying west? Then do the opposite. Book a flight in the evening – preferably with a stopover – and try to get as much sleep as possible, to help you stay awake during the day you land.

3. Relax

Grab some earplugs, a pillow and an eye mask to relax or get some sleep. Also, don’t be shy to tell flight attendants that you don’t want to be disturbed for refreshments while you have your eye mask on. While many people find sleeping pills tempting on flights, they do restrict natural movement and so could cause cramp or deep-vein thrombosis.

4. Move those muscles

Any movement on the plane will prevent you from feeling cramped and lethargic. So keeping your body active means you’re body won’t feel sleepy when you get off the flight. Even though space is tight, just walking up and down the aisles or occasionally flexing your feet will keep your blood flowing.

5. Plan ahead

It’s likely that you’ll be feeling some jet lag symptoms when you get to your holiday destination, so plan ahead and schedule for a day of rest on your first day. Certainly don’t plan a long drive. If you do need to do certain things on day one, then try to arrange them at a time you would normally be active at home.

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