Airport Jet Lag

I’ve always taken jet lag seriously. Really I have. As ex-pats from England living in Los Angeles, our house is always inundated with sun-deprived Brits and close (and not so close) family members and friends, gleefully calling and announcing their impending arrival.

No problem, we say, come on over, we say, here’s where you sleep, here’s the fridge and sometimes even, here’s the car keys. And its been great. We miss our faraway family and friends and love being able to spend super quality time with them.

Jet lag graphicBut, I still have not been able to figure out where they should take their jet lag misery to.

They wonder around the house, eyes drooping, nerves jangling and apologetically “oochy”!! The house becomes a 24 hour nap facilitator – people collapsing on every available surface at any given time – and, if we are lucky enough to have them bring their kids with, then its accompanied by wailing, parents wide-eyed, asking themselves “why did we do this, exactly?”

How To Avoid Jet Lag

Most of us know what jet lag feels like. According to the American Sleep Association, nearly 93 percent of travelers will experience it at some point. Here are some helpful tips on how to avoid jet lag:

  • Jet lag is worse when traveling eastbound, i.e., from Los Angeles to New York or Chicago to London or Paris to Mumbai.
  • Try to avoid connections on long-haul flights. Generally speaking, the longer the flight the better you will adjust to jet lag after you land.
  • Drink and rest on the plane as much as you can and hydrate – just keep drinking water!
  • If possible, try to plan for a daytime eastbound flight. For example, there are flights that leave New York early morning and arrive in London early evening the same day, just in time to get to your hotel and check in for a good night’s sleep.
  • Change to local time as soon as possible. If you’re only going to be away for a short time, you might want to do the exact opposite and never change to local time, but generally speaking I change my watch, phone, and any other timed device I have to my destination time zone no later than arriving at the airport.
  • If you land during the day, the key is to just hit it when you arrive. You want to get on local time as soon as possible, so plan an activity upon landing, preferably something to energize you. Try to follow the local schedule, which means spending time in cafes, enjoying a light meal to acclimate, and taking a nice long walk to stretch out.
  • Try to get to bed early that first night – 9pm. It’s a good way to try to get on the local time. Chances are you’ll sleep through the night from sheer exhaustion and wake up at a respectable hour.
  • There are various arguments for and against naps when it comes to jet lag. You’ll learn your own rhythms, but I find that up to 20 minutes is often enough to recharge and bring my brain and body back online. Occasionally I’ll go for a full two hours, but there’s a sort of horrible “nap hangover”
  • Although there are many axioms for dealing with jet lag, ultimately you have to find out what is best for you, which includes just staying awake when you are not tired and dozing off during the flight when you are.

I need to create a jet lag room. One where my guests can eat all they want, watch as much TV as they want, provide them with an IPAD, earphones and padded walls so that they can bounce quietly off them. Until then, I’ll make do with my earplugs and white noise machine and quietly count my sheep in my still strong British accent.

Author's Bio: 

Josh Tal is the Operations and Public Relations Manager for, an online sleep resource center. Josh is a boarded sleep technician (RPSGT) by trade. In addition, he is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University with a focus on Women's Health and Neuroscience through Stanford University. He works as a research assistant at Stanford University's Late-Life and Lifespan Approach to Neuropsychiatric Disorders Lab.