Avoid Jet-lag Like a Boss




I have been traveling to India since I was little and at about age ten, I figured out how to completely get rid of my jet-lag. My dad (pictured above) however, is still trying to master the process.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Change Your Internal Time

The main reason many people get severe cases of jet-lag is because their body is still on a different time zone. To avoid this, the first thing I always do as soon as I get on the plane is, I look at the current time at my final destination. For me, that was Nagpur, India (I have the Mumbai time pictured, but they are in the same time zone), and as shown in the image, it was the middle of the night. This meant that I should immediately sleep on the plane for as long as I could.

This is the most important step. Many people may see the entertainment screen and immediately decide to watch a movie or two. BAD MOVE. This will keep you up when you should be sleeping.

Step 2: Sleep As Well As Possible

Take all the steps to get the best sleep possible. Close the window shade to reduce light, use a blanket to keep yourself warm and a pillow to stay comfortable. One of the other things that I do to make sure I don't end up sleeping on the shoulder of the person sitting next to me is using the headrest. As pictured above, most headrests (on both domestic and international planes) are bendable so you can kind of make a barrier to prevent leaning when sleeping.

Also, before going to sleep, make sure to drink some water...BUT NOT TOO MUCH! Just enough to keep you hydrated (the air on airplanes is very dry). If you drink too much water, you will have to go to the bathroom in the middle of your sleep cycle and going to sleep is sometimes harder the second time.

Step 3: Wake Up!

Time is a weird thing when traveling between time zones. You may end up waking up once in a while when you should still be sleeping, but don't allow yourself to fully wake up until it is morning at your final destination.

When you do wake up, you can take full advantage of the entertainment system that I know you've been waiting hours to play with.

Side note on food:

Usually airlines serve the first meal on time zone you are leaving from and then the ones thereafter on the time zone you are going to. Sometimes food can interrupt your sleep cycle. I tried to eat when they served me, and if it was in the middle of my sleep cycle, I would immediately go back to sleep afterwards.

Step 4: Arriving at Your Final Destination

This is probably the hardest part of the whole process. For me, I arrived in Nagpur, India at 8:30am which means I had a full day ahead of me that I had to stay awake.

**If you are arriving in the evening, this means, according to the previous steps, you have been awake for a while. If you are not feeling sleepy (which is unlikely), try drinking some decaf tea and disregard the rest of this step**

1. First things first, eat a meal, BUT DON'T over eat! Eating a small meal will help your body stay awake but eating too much will send you into a food coma (from all the good food of course) and then your fight to avoid jet lag will officially be over.

2. Keep yourself busy! Go for a walk, talk to people, play an interactive game but for the love of all things good in this world, DO NOT SIT DOWN AND SPEND MORE THAN 5 MINUTES ON YOUR PHONE (or computer)! You will immediately feel the drowsiness and it will take everything you have to not fall asleep.

My cousin took me shopping in the evening to keep me busy and that worked wonders!

Step 5: Officially Beating Jet-lag

Once you have made it through the day and evening you can finally go to bed. It is ok to go to bed somewhat early (I think I went to bed around 9 or 9:30 pm the first evening). But don't go to bed earlier then 8:30 or you will most likely be waking up pretty early the next morning (unless you can sleep for a solid 12 hours, in which case GO FOR IT!)

After that initial night of sleep you should be set for the rest of your trip!

Good luck and safe travels to all of you!

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest
    • Maps Challenge

      Maps Challenge

    11 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Great posts!!! I also recommend wearing a scarf to keep the cool air off of your neck and chest

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    I have a very long & wide scarf I travel with. It is almost blanket length & opens wide enough to be under. No packing-just wear it on the plane!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great advice. But like jkreusch, I can't sleep on a plane for the same reason. A couple more suggestions, water is really important for getting over jet lag. When in your awake cycle on the trip be sure to drink lots of water as the air conditioning on the plane will slightly dehydrate you. For this, take an empty water bottle with you to the airport and then fill it after you have passed security checks before getting on the plane. They don't offer enough water on flights so it is good to have your own. Also, you can begin adjusting your sleep cycle a few days before your trip. That is, if your destination is ahead of you start getting up earlier a few days before and going to bed earlier as well. If your destination is behind you then stay up later and get up later, if your schedule will allow you to. This gives you a head start on adjusting your sleep schedule to that of your destination so it doesn't take as long to adjust. And you are totally right on staying awake during the day and sleeping at night when you arrive. Avoid naps. Naps just stretch out the jet lag.

    Thanks for the great post. It has some good suggestions I hadn't tried.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    This is useless if you are a 6 foot man crammed in economy class. You. Cannot. Sleep. On. A plane.

    Stay awake the whole 20 hours of travel. Sleep at 10pm in your hotel.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Very good advise. I took a trip to Japan a few years ago and decided the best thing to do was to stay awake the entire time we were on the plane so that I would sleep well when we landed (one flight was about 2 hours, there was a 3 hour layover and then a 14 hour flight) very bad move. Regardless to say, I was extremely tired. These are very smart tips. Thank you! Will definitely follow these in the future!


    4 years ago

    I don't travel, but I love sleep, but sometimes can't sleep enough so this was pretty interesting to read!