adventure / Spain / travel / travel guide

The Top Six Ways to Beat Jet Lag

Urgh, jet lag…if you’ve never experienced it, lucky you. However, for anybody who’s ever traveled a long distance, it’s pretty likely that you’ve felt jet-lagged at some point or another. Even though I travel a lot, it’s never easy to get over that weird, out of it feeling. 

(Want to skip ahead to the tips? Just look for another bolded section)

Photo credit: PhotographyBlogger

California is NINE hours behind Spain, so it’s always a battle for me. Coming this way (west to east) is supposed to be harder than east to west – I totally agree.

Last time I came back, it took me three weeks to get over jet lag. My first day back at work, I felt so terrible I accidentally regurgitated my airline meals all over the office. I regularly have pretty bad headaches and just feel weird. It’s almost like a full-body hangover. 


This time, it’s not much better. The first day, I had a short nap (er, four hours) after my flight, and went to sleep around 1 a.m. I felt pretty invincible about jet lag – look at me, I’m already on a practically normal schedule.  I’ve got this!

Today was another story. Silly me, I forgot about the second day trap!

I woke up at 5 a.m. wide awake, and forced myself back to sleep until 9. At 9, waking up was almost impossible. Work went by so slowwwwly from 11-12, and I didn’t know how I was going to finish. By mid-afternoon, I suddenly felt great again….until I got home and fell asleep for  another four-hour nap. I set an alarm but just could not get out of bed. When I did, my head hurt sooo badly.


I felt like this at work today! Source: The Telegraph

So how can you avoid feeling like this? I’ve done some research, and here are the top ways to get over jet lag:

6a. Starve yourself for a day before you land. Supposedly this helps reset your internal clock. Ha.I have never tried this. My philosophy is why make flying any more of a miserable experience than it already is? Still, this guy says it works.

6b. Alternately…eat everything in sight! This is my mum’s remedy for feeling better after jet lag – just eating tons until you feel normal again. Instead of either extreme, I usually just opt for trying to eat small amounts of plain, healthy stuff.

Or just do this if it feels good. Source: Vogue Italia

5. Do a little bit of exercise. This helps 100%, especially because you probably just spent a while in an unnaturally cramped position. It helps stretch your body out again and stop aching so much. But don’t overdo it – I went to a yoga class after landing in California, and it was a little too challenging for my aching body, so my shoulders seriously hurt for a couple of days (they usually don’t).

4. Don’t nap. I don’t listen to this one either. My body loooooves to sleep, and it definitely fights back if it’s not allowed to. 9 hours of sleep is optimal for me, and I once slept in until 5:30…p.m. Skip the nap? No way, José (or as he’s known in Catalonia, Josep).

Spain’s siesta contest. Source: Sleepless & Tired

3. Try out natural remedies. I’ve tried two things. First,  the jet lag care kit I tried and loved was this one from Boiron, and it’s supposed to helped with muscle pain, sleeping issues, and drowsiness. It’s always helped me adjust faster (no, they didn’t pay me to write that).

The other thing I’ve dabbled in is melatonin. It will knock you out, so it’s great for sleeping on your flight. But when I’ve tried it the next day, I’ve slept for 14-15 hours (even for me, this is a lot). Maybe I used the wrong dosage, but I don’t recommend trying this one after you’ve landed unless you’re having major sleep issues.

2. Drink lots of water. Make sure to take advantage of the free water on airplanes. Drinking lots definitely helps you feel a little less weird. I’m always super thirsty for a few days after a flight.

1. Just give in and admit it’s going to be a rough few days. Be nice to your body and stop freaking out! Listen to your body, and don’t do anything crazy –  it’s already upset with you for doing something completely unnatural to it. Remember, jet lag is normal, even though it sucks. And if you have jet lag, it’s because you got to travel. Totally worth it!

Source: People to People

Not convinced? Here’s some more info on jet lag: 

30 thoughts on “The Top Six Ways to Beat Jet Lag

  1. On my way to the US from Italy I didn’t sleep much on the flights and I didn’t go to bed until the early hours. The only reason this worked was because my two young sisters woke me up when they woke up at 8 a.m. I was pretty out of it for the first day, but after that it went smoothly. On the way back to Italy, I tried knocking myself out for all the flights. I arrived refreshed, but by the time I made it to my house I was out like a light. I decided the intensity of the jetlag is random for me. I was dealing with an 11 hour time difference this time around.

    • I agree with the sleeping. I usually avoid sleeping before my flight and at the airports…then I can try and sleep through flights. My flights are 10~14 hours, plus layovers, but another 2-3 hour flight. 🙂 My last trip back was 22 hours total travel time…not even including the 1 hour subway, 3 hour train ride, and 20 min. car ride back home…or the travel to the airports. gah! lol. I stay awake until daylight ends where I land and I’m usually good! When my boyfriend came with me to the states, he didn’t follow my advice and he suffered for about 3-5 days after landing. He followed my advice on the return trip, though…mostly. He was only really sick for a day or two after.

      • Oh man, that’s a disgustingly long trip! I try and do the same thing because those long flights are so boring. I guess this means your boyfriend should always listen to you. :p

  2. this is great! and so amusing, 6a and 6b, heh. you know what tho? I found that with our last two trips it was much harder adjusting going east to west. of course we slept until 1 p.m. our first day in Spain(west to east). However, I felt no ill effects from jet lag after that glorious sleep! Going home tho, I was a wreck both times. I felt that “out of it” feeling for nearly a week. Second trip was a horrendous two day trip home in and of itself(missed two connections, stayed in Atlanta on Delta, bags made their way to our house 2 days later…) and on top of it, I caught a cold. So, if there was any jet lag, the cold hid it I suspect. I always try to take another day (or two) off from work after any trip. and absolutely on the water thing. and I think I like number 1 the best. great tips!!

      • awful, yes, good word for it. hope to never experience that again! what are the chances? 😉 I should write a post about it. One thing I learned is to never change planes in Paris(CDG) on the way home unless you leave yourself at least 3 hours between flights. srsly…but thanks! hope you’re getting back to normal soon.

        • I definitely agree about Paris! I just had my layovers there. Not only was it crazy busy and slow, but almost all the employees were so incredibly unpleasant. You should post about it haha.

  3. I’ve heard the best thing to do is 2-3 days before hand start eating meals at the meal times in the place you are traveling to. Normally that would involve something weird, though, like waking up in the middle of the night to eat, so I normally just suffer through. And rely heavily on caffeine that first day.

  4. I thought I was one of those jet lag free folk since I’ve been fine flying between Seattle and Japan for years… until I went from Japan to England. I always stay hydrated on flights, am that weird person doing some light yoga in between divisions and just succumb to the slothness that is jet lag. Seattle-Japan has been getting harder with age, though, so I’m definitely going to try exercise next time!

  5. I hate jet lag and west to east is definitely the WORST!

    I wish melatonin knocked me out. I tried taking a sleeping pill on a flight once and still didn’t fall asleep – wtf?

  6. Neat post 🙂 When we cross the Atlantic it is an additional 9 hrs + transit + layovers! Took us a mega 28 hrs from Chennai to Rio last year!

  7. The human body is very sensitive to light. Having a lot of light during the day and NO light at night helps recovering from jetlag. In other words, if you don’t want to be sleepy all day, go outside or make sure you have a lot of light in your house. It works…

  8. I’ve been trekking back and forth from California to Europe (and even longer flights – try 22 hours to Australia! bleh!) for..gosh, 20 years, and I’ve never found anything to speed up my usual one week of recovery when going West to East. I am seriously going to try the “starving method”. I figure if I just knock myself out with enough melatonin maybe it won’t be so miserable. I’ll give you an update when I take me W-E flight this summer!

  9. Pingback: Top 5 Things to Bring With You on a Long-Haul Flight « ¡Hola Yessica!

  10. Pingback: I’ve Found a Cure for Jet-Lag! « ¡Hola Yessica!

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