Jet lag: Expert tips on how to beat the traveller’s curse

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Jet lag. It’s that feeling you get after a long-haul flight (of course, booked with us, After whizzing through time zones, it’s that extreme tiredness, fuzzy-headed feeling, absentmindedness, stomach upset and general disruption and disorientation that eats into your holiday (or zaps your post-holiday glow). But fear not, here are 16 valuable tips (plus a review) on how to manage the dreaded jet lag before, during and after your flight.

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Fly west

West is best jet-lag experts say. By travelling west you fly into a longer day. You’re extending your day. By flying east, you’re shortening it and losing time. It’s easier to stay up later than get to sleep when your body is not ready to rest.

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Choose your flight times carefully

Taking flights during quieter times such as midweek, early morning or late at night (and avoiding school holidays) could help. Depending on the route and class of airline you’ll have more space to stretch out.

Are you a good sleeper?

Only you will know this. Can you sleep on a plane? Or do you find it impossible to nod off; distracted by fellow passengers, the in-flight entertainment and the constant drone of an aircraft cabin. It’s the disruption of your natural rhythm that leads to jet lag, so if you are a good sleeper, take a night flight where you can maintain your routine. If not, fly during the day.

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Get as good a seat as you can afford

It’s a no-brainer. Business or first class with lie-flat beds or capsules or pods will afford you a better chance of rest than cramped economy class. Could you upgrade one way? Buy a seat with extra legroom in the emergency-exit row, get a bulkhead seat. Beware, airlines usually assign these to families with babies.

Have a stopover

On a long-haul flight, a stopover will be necessary. This is a good chance to stretch your legs, get some rest and acclimatise. Dubai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong are popular stopover locations.

Plus, check out our stopover guides to these destinations:

Lisbon Hong Kong Dubai Amsterdam Doha Singapore Reykjavik

Reset your clocks

A few days before you fly, reschedule your bedtime by an hour or two. Consult the ultimate jet-lag advisor on British Airways website. It was developed with Dr. Chris Idzikowski, a leading sleep expert. By selecting your normal wake-up time, the time at your destination and the time at home, the tool will tell you when to soak up some light and when to draw the blinds.


Drink lots of water before you fly to avoid dehydration. And lay off the alcohol the night before you fly.

Check out the meal options

Choose carbs for a night flight if you’re planning on sleeping or proteins to keep you awake and alert. Take some nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate to snack on.

mixture of dried fruits and nuts


Reset yourself

As soon as you step on board, set your clock or smartphone to the time zone you’re flying to. There’s an app called Entrain that connects users to lighting schedules, proven to help you adjust to new time zones as quickly as possible. Start thinking as you would if you were already on holiday. It’ll help get you into the local mindset.

Drink water

Say no to alcohol and ask for water or juice instead.


If you’re going to sleep, eyeshades, earplugs, a pillow and warm blanket will all help. Maintain as much of your bedtime routine as you can, even changing your clothes. Tell your seat mate and the cabin crew that you’re going to try to catch 40 winks.

tired woman in the airplane



When you land, have a short nap. Try to keep them to half an hour or less so you don’t ruin your nighttime sleep.

Stay hydrated

Drinking water. Again! Staying hydrated will help with the effects of jet lag. And avoid alcohol.

Eat well

Refuel sensibly with lean proteins, a little fat and dark green leafy veg.

Try to stay on schedule

If you’ve flown long haul for just a few days stick with your home routines. If you’re on a longer trip, live as the locals do.

Caffeine? Melatonin? Exercise?

A cup of coffee always helps to give a boost of energy! So does exercise, although don’t do it too close to bedtime.

Many travellers swear by Melatonin. It’s a sleep hormone that your body releases in the evening, letting you know that it’s time to rest. It’s available in the US but only on prescription in the UK so check with your doctor in advance.

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Light therapy to beat jet lag – the Re-Timer

Looking ever so slightly like Google Glass, the Re-Timer is a nifty device, the latest in the battle against jet lag. Re-Timer has 25 years of research behind it, developed by sleep psychologists at Flinders University, Australia.

The glasses, that can be worn over reading glasses, emit a soft green glow. This green light stimulates the part of your brain that’s responsible for regulating your body clock. The UV-free green light source is at the optimal wavelength to re-time your body clock and reduce jet lag. It also works for shift workers and insomniacs and helps with the “January Blues”, AKA Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

There’s a quick and easy sleep calculator on the website. Here’s how it works:

To fall asleep earlier wear Re-Timer for 50 minutes after waking up.
To fall asleep later wear Re-Timer for 50 minutes before bed.
The glasses are lightweight and the benefits will be apparent after just three of four days of use. The battery is rechargeable and there’s a USB cable for charging on the go. They sell for $299 AUD.

Ready to beat the jet lag? It all starts with booking that holiday. And what do you know, you are currently reading this on We specialise in helping you find the best travel prices – so you can rest easy on that long-haul flight…

Jet lag: Expert tips on how to beat the traveller’s curse was last modified: April 3rd, 2017 by Oonagh Shiel
Author: Oonagh Shiel (3400 posts)

Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!