Managing Jet Lag: Tips for Minimizing Disruption to Your Sleep Schedule

Discover how to combat jet lag and maintain your sleep schedule while traveling. Learn effective strategies to minimize your sleep disruption for maximum rest.


If you're planning to travel more than three time zones away, then be prepared to deal with jet lag. Jet lag is what happens when you travel when your circadian rhythm is interrupted because you've gone more than three hours away from your place of residence. Jet lag can be a real issue if you don't know how to deal with it, but fortunately, we have a few tips to help you mitigate the challenges of jet lag and sleep schedules while you're traveling.
In this article, we'll discuss how to mitigate jet lag one step at a time to ensure that you get good sleep no matter how far and wide you travel this year. Whether your travels take you to Asia, to Europe, or simply just across the country, it's better to be prepared than to lose sleep.

Work to Prevent Jet Lag Ahead of Time

The first way to deal with jet lag is to prevent it from occurring. Now, it's important to recognize that jet lag itself cannot always be prevented, but there are steps that you can take to revamp your sleep schedule and try to sleep according to where you're traveling. This is, unfortunately, only possible for shorter distances where sleeping earlier or later may make more sense.

For instance, if you're traveling to the West Coast and live on the East Coast of the United States, you could try to stay up a little later and sleep in a little later to get acquainted with the new time zone. However, this is not the best for people who want to preserve their mental or physical health, as longer transitions can be much more difficult to mitigate!

Increase Your Light Exposure

If preventing jet lag ahead of time does not work or you prefer another method, the next best thing to do is to increase your light exposure to adjust to the new time zone with ease. This is especially helpful if you're in a place where the usual day and night cycle, or circadian rhythm, is much different than where you live. The more that you expose yourself to light, especially if you're used to being asleep during this time, the more likely your body is to actually recognize that it should be awake rather than asleep.

Studies show that this has a minimal effect compared with other methods that people use to try and avoid jet lag; however, light exposure does help people stay awake throughout the day. This has worked on athletes, as light exposure as an aid for resynchronizing the human circadian rhythm during travel was actually quite effective. So, light exposure might be one of the best and most natural ways to cure a spell of jet lag if you’re traveling.

Stay Hydrated While You Travel

One unexpected way to help with jet lag is actually by staying hydrated while you travel. Many people who fly will often find themselves victim to dehydration, and this can be a major challenge and also a significant contributor to some of the more intense symptoms of jet lag. The more dehydrated you feel, the more likely you are to have a headache or even feel as though you need more sleep.

Staying hydrated means sticking to water rather than having caffeine or alcohol. Even though caffeine or alcohol may seem tempting and help you stay awake or even sleep throughout the night while you travel, it can have a serious downside when you touch down and have to reacclimate yourself to the new time zone.

So, if you're considering how best to prepare for your flight, be sure to drink lots of water, even if it means taking a few extra trips to the bathroom so you'll be more rested and less jet-lagged when you arrive.

Take a Melatonin Supplement

One final way that you can mitigate jet lag with ease is by taking a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that can help you regulate your sleep cycle. That's why it works so effectively: because it was literally meant to help you regulate your sleep cycle. Now, it's important to recognize that melatonin should not be taken regularly, but for jet lag, it can be taken to induce sleep and help you reset your biological clock.

The best way to take advantage of melatonin is to take a low dosage to help you encourage your body to rest. These will be synthetic or man-made forms of melatonin, but they can help with jet lag and, when taken at the right time, can have a beneficial effect on alleviating any symptoms you may be experiencing. Melatonin supplements are used by pretty much anyone today, but studies have been done on athletes to show how effective it truly is.

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, athletes were studied to see whether or not melatonin would help them with getting enough sleep. As expected, melatonin actually did help with jet lag if someone took a pre-flight tablet and a post-flight tablet for four days at bedtime after they arrived to ensure that they adjusted. This can be absolutely beneficial for those who have to make long-distance trips, especially those to other parts of the world where you have to get used to being up when you’d normally be asleep.

How Will You Mitigate Jet Lag?

Mitigating jet lag is no easy feat, but hopefully, with these tips, you'll be able to take steps to help you either prevent some of the symptoms or work through them with grace. No matter what you choose, any of these tips will be absolutely essential for your next big vacation several time zones away.


Written by

Marie Soukup

Marie Soukup is a seasoned copywriter, editor, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). With five years of experience working with brands across diverse industries, Marie is passionate about holistic health and crafting compelling content.

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