Pre-Travel Personal Planning - Jet Lag

Photo by faithiecannoise/Getty Images. International travel: Clocks showing Paris, London, New York and Sydney time.

Pre-travel Personal Planning


Jet lag usually occurs when a traveler crosses at least five time zones. Follow these tips to avoid severe jet lag:

  • Before travel, reduce jet lag by exposing yourself to light in the evening hours if you will be traveling west or to light in the early morning hours if you travel east.
  • On arrival, expose yourself to bright light in the morning to help you adjust.
  • Before traveling west, begin to reset the body clock by going to bed 1–2 hours later than usual for a few days. If traveling east, go to bed 1–2 hours earlier. Also, change the time of your meals to coincide with your changes in sleeping habits.
  • During travel, drink plenty of fluids, avoid excess alcohol, eat healthy, and exercise.
  • On arrival, take 20–30 minute nap to increase energy, if needed. Remember that longer naps can make it harder to sleep at night.
  • On arrival, adjust both eating and sleeping schedules to the local time as soon as possible.
  • Allow time for rest before beginning a new work routine. Do not schedule business meetings or other work on arrival.

Note: The FDA does not regulate melatonin and its safety is not established.

Page last reviewed: August 28, 2019