Jet Lag

It's 3am in the morning and I'm wide awake in a hotel room in Tokyo, having slept for about five hours. My head is pounding because I haven't had coffee in 30 hours. I'm fixing myself an espresso and getting out my Nexus 7 for some reading. Emily suggested I read A Visit From The Goon Squad so that's first up on my vacation reading list.

I struggle with jet lag. Whenever I talk to someone who travels frequently to Asia or some other far off destination, I always ask them how they deal with it. Most tell me drugs, which I refuse to take. I don't want to go there.

When our family traveled to Australia a few years ago, I was so knocked out by the jet lag that I felt physically ill for the first couple days of our trip. I think I'm in much better shape on this trip, but it's still a struggle for me to get out of my circadian rhythm and into another one.

The jet lag advice I have taken is to sleep as much on airplanes as possible. That makes sense to me but I don't sleep well on planes. I got about four hours on the thirteen hour flight from NYC to Tokyo. The Gotham Gal and the girls barely slept on the plane and I think they are doing better with the jet lag than I am. So I am questioning that advice a bit right now.

So, what do all of you in the AVC community have to advise me on this one? I'd like to get better at it because I love traveling to far flung parts of the world and plan to do a lot more of it in the coming years.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. kentog

    I used to hate that as well, until I tried sleeping pills. I now only travel on the red eye if possible. Well worth it. Have you ever tried that?BTW. Happy Holidays!

    1. fredwilson

      i take the redeye back from SF frequently. i can sleep on that flight pretty well without any help.

  2. Joe Wallin

    That’s a good book!

  3. gregorylent

    meditate for the entire flight. don’t eat airplane food. ever. if you have adjusted sleep schedule before flight, do it. if not, the main thing is, see it not as jet lag, but as lost sleep, no drama, adjust, and anyway, enjoy the drunkenness, the glow, of the altered state in a new place.

    1. fredwilson

      i wish i could meditate

      1. Cam MacRae

        Why can’t you?

      2. Wavelengths

        The best advice I found was to listen to your heartbeat. When you can hear your heartbeat you have shifted your brainwaves and are now in a meditative state.Someone here might want to argue with me, but I’ve found this reliably effective and very, very simple.

  4. Guesty McGuesterson

    The good squad. So that’s what they’re calling it these days? πŸ™‚

  5. Michael Rattner

    It’s 2:30 in the morning in Singapore and I’m in the same exact state. No suggestions, just commiseration.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Orchard Road for you.

  6. Avi Deitcher

    Avoid airplane food. Force yourself onto the new schedule as soon as possible. E.g. when I fly West, I stay up as late as possible, even though I am wiped. Read, study, movie, music, anything to stay awake.Stay awake as late as possible, get up after no more than 6-7 hours no matter what. Exercise early morning when you get there. My preference is a game of hockey, if ice is available, run if not. Cold air helps.

  7. Billy Harvey

    As someone who made a living flying for awhile, and suffer from jet lag myself as a passenger, though not much when I was actually working, I think there’s likely different sorts of stresses involved – and we each react to different stresses, well, differently. I found that what worked best for me was an Advil before and after the flight, lots of water during the flight, light on the meals, avoid sugar, and wear foam earplugs from start engine to shutdown (you get used to that in case it bothers you).I also prefer to travel by other than airline these days if I can. I find it mostly unpleasant if for more than a couple of hours.

  8. maxpelle

    I am recently back from a week in Tokyo, so I know the drill.My suggestion is to get used to the local rhythm of life, that basically means to have breakfast after 6 or 7AM (whatever you do at home) and go to sleep no earlier than 10PM local time.Right now don’t take an espresso, but just a green tea. Take the first coffee at the same time you take it home.During the day if you feel asleep just take a power nap of 10m, no more. This will help you to re-adjust quicker

    1. fredwilson

      i blew that one. my head just hurt too much. i had an espresso and i feel much better. i will take your advice tomorrow.

      1. Wavelengths

        Listen to your body.

  9. Kishin Manglani

    You should try melatonin pills. Melatonin is a natural compound our bodies produce to regulate our sleep schedule/circadian rhythm. It’s a totally innocuous pill you can buy OTC, which will help your body easily adjust to different time zones. I’ve struggled with jetlag in the past, and using melatonin pills has helped significantly when I travel.You should time the pill so that you take it when you want to be asleep at your destination.

    1. Daniel

      Agreed on the Melatonin. But I would also advice plenty of water. Double up on usual intake. And stay awake as long as you can that first day so that you get a full sleep that eve.

      1. pointsnfigures

        agree on melantonin. Get out in the sun as much as you can and walk….it’s worse around 3pm so jump in the pool and swim. I always take a sleeping pill on the flight over. on the way back, pack, stay out until your flight leaves, eat and rack out for 8 hours…..

    2. awaldstein

      Also available as a spray.

    3. fredwilson

      my girls have melatonin with them on this trip. i think i will grab a pill from them and try it tonight. thanks

      1. RichardF

        Melatonin works every time for me but you will need more than 1 pill you will need to follow the instructions for whichever way you flew to Japan (east to west I’m guessing)

        1. fredwilson


          1. LE

            Melatonin is funky. You need the most nominal dose to get it to do something. To much and it won’t work at all. Usually the pills that you get are to much iirc.To wit:…”Jet lag: 0.5 – 5 mg of melatonin 1 hour prior to bedtime at final destination has been used in several studies. Another approach that has been used is 1 – 5 mg 1 hour before bedtime for 2 days prior to departure and for 2 – 3 days upon arrival at final destination. “GNC melatonin is 1mg.

      2. Gordon Mohr

        My experience suggests melatonin sensitivity varies wildly by person – typical pill sizes range from 0.5mg all the way to 10mg. So I would start small (1mg) and inch up; too much may leave you groggy the next morning.

    4. Daniel Rosen

      I agree. I take tranquil sleep by “Natural Factors” –…I get the chewables and take 2 before bed when I can’t sleep and just open a book. Within 5-10 minutes, I’m out and wake up without the drowsiness. And I sleep really well when I take it with a few wakeups. It’s great for startup stress! πŸ™‚

      1. Daniel Rosen

        *few wakeups. Usually, I sleep through the whole night when I take these.

    5. Brandon Burns

      A lot of times the pills have other drugs in them. You can get 100% pure melatonin in liquid form. Its extracted from plants, usually St. John’s Wort. $15-ish for an eyedropper bottle from your local health food store. 4 drops will put you to sleep in 20-30 min, and you’ll wake up naturally when your body tells you to.Also, force a sleep pattern. If its 6pm and you’re sleepy, go do something active and force yourself to stay up until after 10pm, or whenever you usually go to sleep. Try your hardest not to nap at hours you usually wouldn’t.The melatonin is great, but after a year commuting to Beijing for work, the latter tip was the most important for me.

  10. kidmercury

    i find it ironic that you plea for coffee and hate on drugs in the same post. i think if you were to use pills sparingly it might not be the end of the world. you probably consume toxic things every day. not that any of this is good, but that the benefit of pills used sparingly may outweigh the downside.the real solution is to stop suppressing teleportation technology, or, since that is probably way too deep kook for most folks, at least encourage development of nuclear technology. that we are still using fossil fuels to travel is lame. i’m not coming from an environmental perspective, i’m coming from a “i want to get there quickly and cheaply” perspective.

    1. fredwilson

      i have two drug vices. coffee and beer/wine. one cup to wake up. one cup with dinner. there is something about pills that bother me. can’t explain it.

      1. LE

        “there is something about pills that bother me”I think you are being to rigid.The problem with taking a medication is if you have a potential for addiction, or if you use it as a crutch, or on a constant basis, or as a way to avoid doing other things that work that don’t involve drugs (like exercise or any of the obvious things you should do). Assuming that’s not the case you are doing yourself a disservice by not at least considering a medication (and I will assume that it will work in a way that will be helpful. It might not!).I rarely get sick and haven’t had a cold since I can remember. I’ve never been so sick to have to miss a day of work. I never missed school. What I do is generally take a 1/4 to a 1/2 dose of nyquil at the first sign of anything. It knocks me out and gives me good sleep (which helps with overcoming anything breeding). If I am feeling a little nasal I will take sudafed or dayquil at work for a day. My total yearly consumption is totally nominal. But taking those “drugs” prevents other problems that would be more serious and require more medication. This strategy works for me and has worked for year. YMMV as they say. Let me repeat “prevents other problems”.The “mechanical” example I will give you as far as why I believe your “no drugs” strategy is wrong is to say it’s similar to a “cam eccentric”. At a point on the disc you are optimum with regard to what you are trying to achieve. To much and to little cause an equally bad outcome (if you want to call it that).http://www.technologystuden…No drugs to me is like someone who says “no alcohol”. My father never drank and he was generally nasty when he came home from work and hard to approach. It might have been better if he had a drink and got in a better mood for everyone around instead of seeing having alcohol as some kind of a weakness.

        1. Wavelengths

          The medical professionals in my family recommend that when you are dealing with pain from a significant cause, that you make sure that you “stay ahead of the pain” with your pain medication. If you wait until you can’t stand the pain anymore — from the injury or whatever — then you will need more medication to bring the pain level back down than you would have needed just to maintain a level that was tolerable.This also applies to fevers. You don’t want to wait until your fever is back to 103.5 before you take something. Remember that the use of willowbark goes back thousands of years, and that is the source of acetylsalicylic acid, which is essentially aspirin.

      2. rileyhar

        I really wouldn’t call drinking a limited amount of coffee or wine vices; there are real health benefits to each.

      3. Wavelengths

        I was with you on that for a very long time. Shall we say that “cancer cured me of that.”Our bodies were designed to handle an incredible range of situations and stresses, but I have come to realize that at some point we might be ahead of our evolution in terms of what we have to deal with in our lives and with our inborn neurochemicals, etc. Jet-lag is not something we were equipped to handle from birth with our evolution. PTSD creates neurochemical changes that may not shift through talk therapy alone. Sometimes drugs bring us back to where we were before the stressors happened.Just sayin’.

  11. William Mougayar

    Travels to Asia where there’s a 12-14 hour difference are tough to deal with, no matter what.Β When I used to travel to India, it always took 2 days to fully recover. The first night is the hardest because it’s 2pm Β now for you.Β Your headache is prob from coffee withdrawal. 1 cup of coffee shld fix it.Β One advice is to drink lots of water during & after the flight because you don’t want to be dehydrated. I mean lots of water because you trick your body that way. Otherwise, you’re in a daze a bit.Β There is one homeopathic remedy called NoJetLag. I’ve never used it but my brother raves about itΒ thing is that tomorrow will be easier!Β 

    1. kidmercury

      water is my default prescription for any bodily ailment. i’m a big water fanboy.

      1. William Mougayar

        So true. Me too

    2. fredwilson

      one shot of espresso did wonders for me. i am awake but happy. i think i’m going to the gym at 5am which is in 40 mins

  12. Dave Pinsen

    Typo in the book title, Fred: it’s “goon squad”.

    1. fredwilson


  13. CliffElam

    I commuted to London from RDU for 18 months and I never found any way better than getting what naps I could on the plane and maintaining destination hours rigidly when I got there. It it wasn’t London I’d say I got sunlight during the day, but, well, you know.For example, I have learned NOT to be up at 3am local time drinking caffeine. I just lie here in the dark being as calm as possible. Rest isn’t as good as sleep, but it’s better than nothing.Hope you feel better._XC

  14. AlexBangash

    When I travel to Asia, I cut down or refrain from caffeine. I take over the counter allergy pills, which have the same active component as over the counter sleeping pills. Yoga is great, too. Shoulder stands or other type of inversions help a lot, followed by Shavasana.

    1. fredwilson

      i haven’t mastered the inversions in my practice. i am not a fan of being upside down. i am working hard on that actually.

      1. Anne Libby

        “Legs up the wall” pose is an inversion that doesn’t bring up the confusion of being upside down…and offers many benefits of inverting.(And P.S. Anyone who googles this one, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to have your legs flat to the wall to benefit. The point is to elevate your legs above your heart…)

      2. Wavelengths

        Notice that this helps with the issue of blood pooling in the legs and ankles that is also addressed with compression socks, etc.As a short exercise, try lying on the floor in your hotel room with your legs on the bed. No stress, no strain, but it lets the blood flow back from your tired legs and feet. 15 minutes might be as refreshing as an hour nap.

  15. Yoiyen Zhong

    Just keep reading/blogging and you will beat the jetlag. Guess you were drawn to sleep soon after posting this blog

  16. eliasmoubayed

    Simple. Enjoy the flight = eat and drink. No matter what you do, don’t go to bed until bedtime in Tokyo or wherever you are and you’ll be fine. Don’t ever sleep past your normal waking up time. If you get up at 7 back home then get up at 7 local time. DO NOT DEVIATE. No naps. 1st day or so is crap. If you don’t follow the above you feel awful for several days.

  17. Dacia

    My sons doctor recommended melatonin when my son was having trouble sleeping. Its a natural suppliment. I tried it myself, and it works. I won’t try drugs either, but melatonin is a gift from God, it helps me sleep oh the plane and allows me to avoid jet lag. That and exercise are key.

  18. jason wright


  19. bfeld

    I’m a drug free flyer also. I hate taking drugs, especially for sleep.I’ve always been a good sleeper on airplanes so I’m lucky there. I view it as time travel – I put my little red eye mask on at the beginning of the trip and usually wake up when we land as long as it is less than 5 hours.For long international flights, I go to sleep immediately on take off wherever I am / whatever time zone I’m in. I find that if I start by reading or working on my computer, my brain is too stimulated to fall asleep. So I just go lights out until I wake up. I tell the flight attendent not to wake me for any reason until I wake up.Then – when I wake up – I start a 24 hour normal cycle regardless of timezone. Sometimes this puts me completely messed up with whether I’m going; other times it works perfectly – it all depends on how long I slept. But I power through whatever the local timezone dynamics are.For example, if it’s 10am when we land somewhere, I go to bed. If it’s 3am, I’ll usually just stay up and go to sleep early at night the first night.For vacations that are a week long, Amy and I often just stay on Colorado time. In Europe, this means we sleep until noon or 1pm and stay out until 2 in the morning. Totally different than our normal life, but fun.

    1. Mike Geer (MG)

      You do know, Brad, that people like me (who can’t sleep on planes), hate people like you that throw on the eye mask and are asleep immediately. I’m sure you won’t lose any sleep over it though…

      1. bfeld

        Yeah – my three partners (Seth, Jason, Ryan) hate it and have many compromising pictures of me from when we travel together.

        1. Mike Geer (MG)

          Well done them πŸ˜‰

    2. fredwilson

      that’s great advice brad. i can’t fall asleep on planes as easily as you can, but i am working on it. i am getting better at it. i used to not be able to sleep at all, so that is progress

      1. Alex Murphy

        Sleeping on the plane has tended to be a comfort thing for me more than anything else. Try a couple of different pillows, something to wedge your head into. One thing that has always helped me is to raise my feet and legs. Every little bit towards a more flat, or rather less seated, position helps a bunch.

        1. Wavelengths

          Put that carry-on under your feet!

      2. PhilipSugar

        I am also with Brad on this one. If I start the trip working I will not sleep. If I start the trip sleeping, I’m out before takeoff, you can get your body into a rhythm where the tipping back of the plane on takeoff and climb out is a signal that puts you to sleep.

        1. Wavelengths

          Learning that you can train your body to respond to those signals is a HUGE gift. I read that if you are driving long distance and stop to nap, it is very VERY important not to put the seat back and sleep in the driver’s seat because that tells your body that it is OK to sleep behind the steering wheel.When I travel, I use a couple of small items that signal comfort to me. The public environment bothers me when I try to sleep, so I use a silk (lightest weight available) scarf to cover my head and block out light. I bought sari silk in Kuala Lumpur, and I enjoy the memories it brings. I use this whether on a plane, bus, train, or backseat of the ski limo. It signals me that I can sleep and use that time effectively in that way.This was not a natural shift for me. I had to choose to change, but it helps me to feel “at home” and relaxed enough to sleep in my own private space. Silk is not suffocatingly heavy, but a dark color will block light.

      3. Travis Laurendine

        try doubling down on the u shaped travel pillows if you place the second one strategically enough on your hip area you can create a decently soft lean-area into the window wall… also being on planes drains you of oxygen so getting hyberbaric treatments will help.

    3. Cam MacRae

      Pretty much everywhere I fly is long haul — it’s a curse of geography.I’ve got a similar strategy except I set my watch to the final destination TZ, drink 2 (little) bottles of red or rum with the first meal and as soon as the trays are cleared I sleep. I normally sleep about 80% of the flight (e.g. 10-12 hours on a MEL<-> LAX leg), seldom watch a movie and leave the laptop in its bag. I do read sparingly though.At the final destination I operate on local time immediately, although I suspect I’m one of those lucky types who doesn’t get jet lag.

  20. takingpitches

    Drink tons of water on the plane, and don’t eat or drink anything else.This NYTimes article has some tips from NASA on using sunglasses on the plane depending on where you are going. I am going to try these next time.

  21. Hemi Weingarten

    I travel every few weeks from Tel Aviv to NY to SF, so am used to the drill. This is what works for me:- a drink before falling asleep on the plane. Just one. Good earplugs + eyecovers too.- keeping myself up as late as possible when traveling west.- Drinking lots of water- melatonin pill (3mg, once a day, just before going to sleep). By the 3rd day I don’t need it. I haven’t taken a tylenol or antibiotic in over 10 years. I wouldn’t touch any sleeping pills, but melatonin is supposedly quite natural and benign.- not stressing about my insomnia. I get up when I get up and make use of the time to catch up on emails, blog, or prepare for the coming day’s meetings.Caveats:- Going west to east is much harder.- I normally sleep 5 hours, so no stranger to short nights

    1. fredwilson

      lots of common advice in this thread. water, melatonin, exercise.

      1. Wavelengths

        We used to talk about talismans like worry beads, teddy bears, etc. I do believe that having some small item that signals “comfort” is a good thing. I mentioned elsewhere that I’ve used a silk scarf as a talisman/eyeshade. A square yard of fine silk will compact down to the size of a grocery-store plastic produce bag and open up to give you a “tent” with a sense of privacy, a little bit of warmth, and — when you use it as your talisman — a bit of comfort.People mention meditation here as an aid with jet-lag. Meditators often have a particular piece of fabric, wool or silk, that they use to “insulate themselves from worldly vibrations.” When I get that recommendation from a “metaphysical” source, I wonder how it relates to the real world. From my own experience, I find it helps to keep a familiar scarf or piece of fabric with me when I travel. It has been the extra layer of warmth when the wind kicked up at the rodeo in Chihuahua, and the signal to a busybody seatmate on a crowded plane that I was not available for trans-pacific soul-baring to a stranger.I know you’ve got another long flight ahead of you. Hope you are having more fun than you thought possible, and that these suggestions will help you get home with a little less stress.

  22. Mike Geer (MG)

    I have a fairly natural (minus the needed caffeine) approach to this:1. Reset all clocks to your destination time before you get on the plane.2. Avoid alcohol on flights (you think it will help you sleep, but it makes the jet lag worse), AND drown yourself with water3. Always stay up till a “normal” time (930pm to 12am) when you land somewhere new4. No matter how little sleep you got, get out of bed at a “normal” time (5am to 9am), and go exercise for 30 minutes at least. Make sure you break a sweat.5. Every time you feel tired during the day, drink water and walk around to keep your blood moving. Avoid too much caffeine on an empty stomach. Will just make you feel weirder.6. Remember the mantra “I’m not tired, I just have serotonin seeping into my brain”. We all can function on a low amount of rest, so jet lag is not lack of rest, but serotonin (simplified science) entering our brain at the “wrong” time. Exercise will get it back out of there for a couple hours.7. Remember you are superman and impervious to things that slow down mere mortals.Happy Holidays!MG

    1. david

      Definitely agree with this. Get your body on Tokyo time before you even leave! When you get to your destination, act like you would at home, but on their time Don’t go to bed too early, wake up at a normal time. This seems to work well for me.

    2. fredwilson

      thanks. i will head to the gym shortly. thanks for the inspiration


        I didn’t know you work out Fred. How much do you bench?


          Well, pee pee muscles?

          1. fredwilson

            i don’t bench. i do yoga, i run, i bike, spin, and some core and light weights


            “light weights”.I remember when I used to lift light weights. 12oz’ers to be exact! lol

          3. Techman

            You spin? Like in circles? I’ve never heard of that before.

      2. James Smith

        Fred: I travel back to Australia from San Diego about 4/5 times a year and sometimes its for 5 days (Wedding/Funeral), a friend of mine is a long haul pilot and he swears on 3 additional things to Mikes great steps above:1. Noise Canceling headphones, the pilots wear them up in on the ‘new school’ flight deck for the entire flight and there have been some studies which say the noise tires you the most.2. Exercise is the first thing I do (unless its late at night and time for bed) when I arrive.3. if its a quick trip (under 7 days) I don’t try to adjust to the new time otherwise I just get adjusted and I’m headed home again.Hope that helps.James

    3. Nick Grossman

      there are a few gems in here; thanks.

    4. mathewi

      I haven’t done a huge amount of long-haul travelling, but I’ve found MG’s advice the best — stay up as long as you can when you get to your destination, and try to get as close to a local schedule as possible, as soon as possible: exercise and water rather than caffeine is the best treatment for fatigue, and eating and sleeping at “normal” times are crucial for resetting your clock.

    5. lee blaylock

      he speaketh the truth

    6. bcurdy

      Great input! For me, number 4 is the most important. I also struggle a lot with jetlag so I once asked a pilot to tell me how he was dealing with it. His trick was to go jogging a soon as he possibly could. No exceptions. Get to the hotel and go jogging. If you arrive during daytime, you get all the benefits of exercising, plus those of seeing daylight and realizing that people around are doing daytime activities. It’s not a miracle solution but definitely does help.

    7. PhilipSugar

      Yup this is the top comment because it is 100% right. The only other thing I’ll add is that it seems to be easier going from East to West rather than West to East. I would know guys that would schedule multiple trips and essentially go around the world never traveling West to East.I agree 100% on the drugs, I have a vivid memory when I worked at Mitsubishi having a couple guys come up to me and ask me the nuances of an article in the WSJ about a sleeping bill (I think Haldane) they used to take that caused mental problems.

    8. Anders Hsi

      This is very sound advice.I have frequently travelled back and forth between China and the US for 5 years and frequently have guests in China.Here are a list of tips:1. When you land do not sleep until at least 9:30pm local time (no naps!)2. Do a thorough stretching routine of the neck, upper back, lower back, and legs two hours before planning on sleeping.3. If you cannot sleep, do not worry or stress about it, including while you are on the plane. Try your best to enjoy the time of rest and continue to be active during the local day time hours.I avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs as ways to sleep when transitioning. They tend to create a rockier transition for me. If I cannot sleep I meditate for 30 minutes.The first day is usually not so bad (a 6.5 of tiredness) while the 2nd and 3rd day can be rough especially getting into the evening and waking up at 3am.Exercise and sunlight go a long way for readjusting the natural rhythms. Good luck and remember that stress often exacerbates insomnia!

    9. jeffdachis

      MG has got some great advice… One thing to add… if I’m doing a long haul, I will try to ease onto the new time zone 3-4 days before the trip by going to be much earlier (or later) and beginning to function closer to the adjusted time zone to make the transition less jarring.

    10. Techman

      You know, that’s a good list of things to do. When I travel some place I’ll have to try this.

  23. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Fred you ski right – you know how the first day back can knock you out.So on arrival with jet lag I found a really demanding swim (ideally outdoor – depends on season), hill walk or similar, followed by snack, hot bath (maybe hot chocolate or similar) and bed on arrival do the trick.After being confined for hours that its great to stretch out, getting cold then warm is good for circulation and after exercise your body “wants to work on those muscles”.Finally – eliminate any stimulators you can – avoid bright-lights, big city input, and make sure any work issues are ready and “put to bed”.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks. great advice.

    1. fredwilson

      cool! thanks

  24. awaldstein

    I commuted monthly to Singapore from SF for 4 years.My rules:-drink lots of water.-put myself in the time zone I’m going toAsia is a tough one. Always going to be a bit wonky.All bets off of course if you ever have the bad waking dream and do this in coach!

  25. Luke Chamberlin

    I have lived in both Japan and Australia and making those trips across the international dateline from the US is always difficult.I set my watch to the new time zone a day ahead of my trip. Whether or not you sleep on the plane depends on the local time of the place you are traveling to. I also try to avoid drugs, but I do use melatonin sometimes and find it effective, although it leaves me groggy.The bonus is that Tokyo is a 24-hour city and there is always something to do at all hours. Early morning Tokyo is a great time (dawn – 7am) to walk around and take photos or watch the city wake up.Unfortunately, they closed the Tsukiji fish market to tourists, which used to be the best thing to do in the wee hours of the morning when the new catch came in. However, there are still a number of restaurants nearby serving the freshest fish you will ever eat. It’s a nice place for breakfast.

    1. fredwilson

      we are headed to the fish market for sushi breakfast tomorrow

      1. jason wright

        pass on the fugu

        1. fredwilson


          1. jason wright

            it could kill you

          2. fredwilson

            OK. That’s a great reason.

          3. jason wright

            it would be a bad way to start a holiday, a visit to the hospital. fugu is pufferfish.look for the japanese interpretation of christmas, the santa claus crucified on a cross department store window display. unbelievable, but true.

          4. Wavelengths

            When I was in Borneo, Christmas was still going on into the New Year.

          5. Wavelengths

            I read that they are revamping the way fugu is prepared so that it can be safe no matter what restaurant you visit.This is one of those regulations in process, though, so you might want to check the details. I understand that fugu is so amazing that it is worth the risk. Me? I’m still thinking about the uni GG shared with us a week or so ago.

      2. scottythebody

        How did you like it? The fresh fish in that town was *killer*. Not sure how you feel about it, but have you ever tried whale? You can do it in Tokyo.

        1. fredwilson

          the sushi stands in the fish market were great. but we did not try whale. my partner Brad had whale in Iceland. he didn’t like it very much

  26. AppAddictive Inc

    As a frequent flyer and not being a fan of drugs, I always put myself in timezone of my destination and try as much as possible to stay awake, or sleep according t the destination’s time zone. I find i can force myself 3 to 6 hours longer to be awake or sleep and that can stave off somehours of jetblag by the time i reach my destination.

  27. Alex Vyshetsky

    What works for me when traveling internationally is to think ahead about what time I’ll get to my final destination so that I have enough “energy reserve” to stay up and fall asleep at a normal local time.I.e. if you’re leaving at 5pm EST, 13 hours later you’re in Tokyo at 10pm local time, but it’s 6am EST which is what your body is used to. You have to game it so that even though your body thinks its 6am EST and you should be charged and ready for another day, you actually want to sleep. So I would get very little sleep on the flight itself and instead try to fall asleep when I get to my final destination.The idea is that you want to fall into a normal sleeping pattern under local time as quickly as you can. And definitely drink as much water as you can.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s basically what the girls did on this trip to Japan. seems to be working well for them.

  28. LaMarEstaba

    When I studied abroad in Beijing, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to engage in some sleep experimentation. I went into a biphasic sleep pattern, where I slept for a few hours (5 or so) before class, and then took a short nap after class was done for the day in the afternoon. Taking a siesta like the Spaniards was the way that I sort of stayed in an in-between sleep pattern, which was half on American time and half on Chinese time. That also made it easier for me to transition back when I went home.

    1. fredwilson

      i am a huge fan of the siesta. i take an afternoon nap every weekend day without fail.

      1. LE

        NFW! (I’m one of the founding members of the “afternoon nap club” and can attest to it’s benefits.) That said if my normal sleep pattern is good I don’t find I need to do that that often.I remember in college interviewing a successful entrepreneur who showed me a room off his office that was a soundproof place where he could go if he needed to take a nap or get away (no bed but had what appeared to be from my memory a professional reclining type chair).I have a tenant that is an ENT that has a soundproof room (for hearing testing). He told me he uses it to take a nap when possible. It feels surreal to be in that room it’s so peaceful.It’s unfortunate that taking naps has gotten a bad rap and is generally frowned upon (just like sleeping late is).

        1. Wavelengths

          That zone of relaxation that is in and around the “nap” is typically when the brain is operating in the alpha wave zone — a good place for creative “ahah’s”.I agree with you that our typical US/western society has applauded a certain sleep regimen that doesn’t work for everyone.When I was a freshman in college, the one absolutely required course for any degree was a Western Civilization class that was only held at 7:00 a.m., both first and second semesters. (Small school, big attitude.) Furthermore, all seating was assigned. My grades were good enough that by the second semester the prof made the concession that he would assign me an outside aisle seat so that I could skate in at my usual 7:14 or so … without flailing my way through the 20 or so students who were already sitting in my row. I absolutely could not get to that class on time. I can make a 4:00 a.m. flight to anywhere, but I could not get to that class on time 5 days a week.BTW, the professor didn’t enjoy it, but he had to give me good grades in spite of my sleep/wake disabilities.I can pull an all-nighter much more easily than I can set my personal alarm for such an early hour every day of the week.

  29. heuristocrat

    I read all the comments and believe that like many things this is an individual thing. What works for one may or may not work for another. Personally after years of doing this for me the solution is not too involved but each has to find his own:I eat, drink, work, read, sleep or do whatever I feel like doing on the plane, on long flights I do them all at different points.When I land I consider whatever the your for a local going to bed time would be. Then I do whatever is needed to make it to an “early but somewhat normal” bedtime. It’s okay to get up early but not in the middle of the night.Naps are fine if they are needed to “make it” to the normal bedtime. When going from west to east overnight I take a one or two hour nap on arrival. On awaking have some coffee and consider it a “short day” to turn in at a normal hour.That it all means is that the next morning after arrival I am feeling good, basically on local time and haven’t wasted much time.The method works for me because I can go to sleep when I want to. As long as I have a book to read I can be sleeping within an hour. If you can’t do that then just “going to sleep at the early normal time” may not work for you.In my opinion part of the problem is thinking too much about it. Pay attention to your body and focus your energy on feeling rested and going to sleep at the normal bedtime hour the day of arrival. For me that’s all the magic that’s needed.Good luck and have fun finding your solution!

  30. John Bean

    I always try to stay awake until its time to go to sleep at my destination. I drink coffee, but only in the morning, so I try to avoid drinking to much to make sure that I can go to sleep on time.

  31. Keshav Malani

    I would highly recommend the drug free way because your body is naturally learning how to cope and will be better long term (in other conditions as well).The key is following a natural sleep pattern from home NO matter what. Cat naps are allowed but keep it at a minimum.If you are used to waking up early its a huge help.

    1. fredwilson

      i am an early riser

  32. Dave Lee

    I used to travel to Asia a lot and here’s some jet lag suggestions.1. Use No-Jet-Lag – it’s a homeopathetic small pill you take every two hours when traveling. It helps your body relax so you don’t get as fatigued. Lots of people swear by it. I find it helpful. They sell it on Amazon.2. Compression clothes – buy some compression socks, pants and short. It helps with lowering fatigue. Wear while you travel.In general, jet lag is more about your body feeling fatigue because of the wear of travel.3. Exercising immediately when you arrive at a new destination is helpful.4. Finally, taking a hot bath the first night you arrive is helpful.

    1. fredwilson


  33. Angela Min

    Meditation is very useful. My version of meditation is TM (yes, Transcendental Meditation, the crazy stuff from the Beatles days – but it’s not so crazy, promise!). But any kind of meditation will help, specifically to help put your body/mind in sync with each other, and help your body ease into the new timezone, faster. In any case, have a terrific trip to Japan, though I highly recommend making a pit stop in Seoul. In fact, if you decide to do that, please reach out to my brother who has the hottest incubator space in Asia (Seoul Space), not to mention, can you give you a second-to-none Gangman tour of Seoul. If that doesn’t cure your jetlag, nothing will! Cheers and happy holidays! – Angela, startup geek in Long Island City

  34. ShanaC

    There was a point in college where I stopped sleeping for over a week straight and was on medication to make sure I slept. (so if you think jetlag is bad, wait till either you have nightmares for 30 minutes and then not sleep at all for the rest of the day for 7-10 days straight) Now I am not. Here is why:1) I try to keep my sleep hygenie relatively the same no matter the day of the week. (may not work for jetlag, but at least your sleep schedule moving into local time should be similar to the one your normally keep)2) I use melatonin judiciously when needed. I try to use this brand when I can (… ) because it helps with the groggy factor3) I do low impact cardio if I feel tired (I like running, but I don'[t feel energerized afterwards, I feel drained. Same with lifting, even though I love it). 40 minutes4) I use a SAD lamp to make sure my body thinks it is the right time and that I don’t start oversleeping (oversleeping can cause cycles of undersleeping) (may clinic on the sad lamp:… )5) I have a sleep pattern that I follow rigourously. when I am at home, I almost always shower before bed, shut down my machine for the night, then put on retin a, then pull covers over head. Sometimes in the winter I add a book and some herbal tea.6) I uptake my healthy fat intake. Sugar can make you bounce. Olive oil makes you feel satiated and tired7) I time my caffeine intake. Espresso is actually low caffeine (compared to brewed coffee which I prefer), but I usually choose tea after 12, and will continueally rebrew the same leaves, which after the first pot, have little to no caffeine.8) I drink water. I keep water by my bed. I keep water on me. Ect.9) (has helped in the past, but I hate getting out of beds, so I don’t do this often enough) have a wake up pattern. Something that gets you out of bed and makes you think it is morning.

    1. ShanaC

      also, I have heard uptaking your vitamin d may also help

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Shana– I’m passing this along to my eldest son (and borrowing some of these tips for myself). He is the only one of my children who has inherited my minimal need for sleep (with a bit of insomnia mixed in) except this doesn’t seem to work as productively for him. Hearing the word college as part of the advice might help since he’s headed there next fall. Although now he’s talking about culinary school as a serious option and I am trying to get my head around that. I guess it’s okay to be an intellectually gifted chef, right?

      1. Anne Libby

        Danny Meyer’s *Setting the Table* offers great inspiration on what intelligence and thoughtfulness can bring to the food service industry.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Thanks, Anne. I really appreciate this recommendation. My son has a business brain so this might appeal to him. Just today I received his ACT scores. He didn’t prepare at all (unless you count going to a college prep h.s. for the first 3 years — we are letting him do senior year online), didn’t sleep the night before and still his composite score was in the 97th percentile. I keep thinking of what he could do with a brain like that. But it takes more than brains. A lot more. And maybe being a chef is a better fit to his makeup.BTW, I have a feeling that this book would help me to clarify/articulate some of my deeply held beliefs about business. I may read it first and then leave it laying around for him to “discover.” Thanks, again, Anne.

          1. Anne Libby

            You’re welcome. (And do book a table at one of Meyers’ restaurants the next time you visit NYC!)

      2. ShanaC

        I know of intellectually gifted chefs. Though if you want to think college proper, UC Davis has a vitaculture program (he could be a wine person!!!!)

    3. Donna Brewington White

      BTW that sounds like a horrible experience you went through.

      1. ShanaC

        it forced me to take leave. Effectively, after 3 days of no sleep you start developing serious mental problems. Stress got to me, plus chicago in the winter can be brutal vis a vis sunlight.

        1. Wavelengths

          If you’ve never traveled out of your normal day/night rhythm, you have no idea how much this affects you.I spent June and July in the far north, having driven from my home in Colorado. July 1 I was very far north of the Arctic circle and I felt as well as saw how people just kept on going because there never was any real “night.” This is great if you’re smoking fish for the winter and don’t need to do anything but tend the fire and take naps. It’s not so great if you need to stay sane by getting enough sleep when there never is a time when the sun isn’t above the horizon.I remember being in the Yukon, having a meal at a Chinese restaurant, and trying to explain about how the sun rose and set at virtually the exact same time every day when one was near the equator. (Chinese restaurant? Yukon? Equatorial day and night? Driving? Jet lag sounds so simple … πŸ™‚ )

  35. William Wagner

    Make fists with your toes

    1. scottythebody

      I do not know the name or address, but show the picture to your concierge and they can probably tell you how to find it or at least what it’s called.It is near the Budokan and Royal Palace, so you might be in the ‘hood. It’s just a couple blocks from the IAEA Tokyo Office. Kudanshita area, my geotagging should get you close.Not sure it’s worth a trip for, since Tokyo is *filled* with amazing places to eat, but if you’re anywhere nearby, I think it’s totally worth a detour to experience the best fried pork on the planet.Pretty sure it’s weekday lunches only.

    2. fredwilson

      ThanksI will check it out

  36. Anon

    Two tips that have served me well. As little caffeine as possible and as much hydration as possible. Absolutely no naps. And mild drugs such as Advil pm help you get a good few hours of sound sleep without going down the scary ambien route.

    1. LE

      Advil pm is essentially benadryl with a pain killer. No need for the pain killer.…You can skip the nsaid and just use benadry makes more sense if you want to go that route.Another thing would be Nyquil Cough which is essentially an antihistamine as well.But the difference is you can simply take a 1/4 dose (certainly not a full cup) and that will trick your body into sleeping and give you less of a nyquil hangover.Just mentioning for anyone who does take “drugs” understand Fred isn’t looking to go this route.

  37. Zippy

    Does your body have a jet lag preference? In my case, flying East to West is easier for me than West to East. When flying East to West, I do not sleep on plane and basically have an extra long day. I arrive to Tokyo at the end of their business day, go to hotel, get myself sorted, and sleep the sleep of the dead. Flying West to East, I sleep on the plane and drug myself to ensure I sleep as much as possible. The horrible requirement is that you land in the early hours of the day and need to stay up for hours to begin sleeping at the right time. I recommend staying outdoors as much as possible; natural sunlight will help keep you awake until nighttime.

    1. fredwilson

      I struggle in the same way

  38. Gary Arndt

    I’ve been traveling full time for the last 5.5 years. I literally don’t have a home. I put on 150,000 miles a year and visited all 7 continents in 2012.I don’t take drugs or anything for jet lag. Just stay up the first night you are there and get really tired and try to go to bed at a normal hour.You have to adjust your sleep schedule and that requires getting tired at least one night.

  39. bogorad

    Read it a couple of years ago and have been following this advice religiously: don’t eat some 12-16 hours before breakfast in the time zone of your destination, e.g.:…Effectively it means “don’t eat on planes” but there’s a nuance – if you arrive in the evening you may well eat your heart out on the plane and still have the whole night to fast.Spoke to my frequent flying friends – some of them just refuse to eat on planes and feel quite good about not suffering from jet lag. They say – “one less reason to fly business” πŸ˜‰


    ” Most tell me drugs, which I refuse to take. I don’t want to go there.”.Umm… In your first paragraph you describe your addiction to coffee and the side effects you’re suffering from due to withdraw!

    1. fredwilson

      i should have said “pills”you are correct about my addiction. but i only have one cup a day


    “…I was so knocked out by the jet lag that I felt physically ill…”.I think that’s the world punishing you for not answering all the emails in your InBox! lol

  42. BillMcNeely

    I would advice eating light on the plane. Drink plenty of water. Excercise as soon as you check in. Running or swimming. Get on your destinations feeding schedule. If at all possible try avoiding taking naps during the day. When I did not follow this I usually could count extending jet lag from 4 days to 7 when I traveled from the US to the Middle East.

  43. John Ruffolo

    Fred, when I travel long distances, I immediately adjust my eating and sleep pattern to the local time. I find that I rarely if ever get jet lag.

  44. Isaac Cambron

    I never have jet lag on vacations. Jet lag is when the schedule you’re expected to keep doesn’t match up with the one you’re keeping. My trick is to ignore the schedule everyone expects me to keep and just go to bed when I feel like it. Maybe I’m tired right after I land or maybe it’s 3 AM and I’m still wired. So be it.After a couple of days the gentle pressure of the environment I’m in will push me to the “normal” schedule pain-free. Now you might have constraints that make that harder (things to do, kids, etc), but if you can do it, it’s great.

  45. Brian Hasday

    It really depends on the time difference. If it’s nighttime where you’re going, you should try to sleep but if it’s daytime that won’t help you get on the right schedule. I also don’t eat anything but pretzels and drink a lot of water.

  46. Patrick T. Hoffman

    I don’t know about sleeping as much as you can on the plane. Many of my friend’s and I also refuse to take drugs, whether to help sleep on the plane or to cope with any lag. Something we’ve all tended to do since I first learned (and shared) from my uncle in the UK is to, if possible, schedule flights that arrive in the early morning at our destination and having done that to stay up the entire day without a nap while being active and to go to bed as late as possible but before 11pm or midnight. I personally have done this every time I travel and I have yet to experience jet lag of any sort at either end of my trips.

  47. Sim Gulati

    I travel about once a month to HK from NY and I’ve learned to time my sleeping schedule. For instance – if I know i’m going to be getting to Asia in the morning, I’ll plan to sleep 5-7 hours before I land. This allows me to stay awake and make it through my first day on the ground. It’ll be tough and I usually end up heading to bed earlier than normal, but when I do go to bed I’ll sleep 8-10 hours and be fresh for the next day and the rest of the trip.Vis a vis, if i know I’m getting in later during the day I’ll try to stay awake for as long as I can before I land so I can sleep like a baby when I get to the hotel.Works for me, could work for you.

    1. Sim Gulati

      And if I can’t sleep on the plan I usually take a “Nature’s Bounty all natural Melatonin pill”

  48. Jo T.

    Hi Fred, I used to travel a ton for work in Asia. The short answer is it is really tough given the 12 hour or so time difference with the U.S.But, here’s what I did:1. Melatonin2. Exercise3. Being outside in the sun if possibleHope you enjoy Tokyo. For kicks, consider streaming “Lost in Translation” with Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson!Enjoy the holidays….

    1. fredwilson

      Just got back from the gym. Had a good workout.

  49. Bryan Thatcher

    Have you tried compression socks? Long flights without much movement is part of the jet lag culprit, compression socks helps to keep your blood flowing. You can usually find them in running stores. And lots of water.

    1. fredwilson

      Never heard of them. Will check them out

    2. Wavelengths

      Good idea. People who have never experienced swelling in the feet and ankles from poor circulation don’t realize how easily this can happen, and the effect on the body may be there, even if the swelling isn’t really noticeable. Women who have gone through pregnancy can comment on this, but guys don’t generally know how easily this can happen until they are much older. The effects are there, though, even when you’re younger.

  50. Tim Panton

    Here’s my jet-lag avoidance strategy:1) I wean myself off caffeine slowly in the week before the trip(I figure it is good for me to know I can πŸ˜‰ )2) I try and take flights that depart early evening.3) I sleep as much as possible on the flight (bose noise cancelling headphones and eye-shades help)4) When I get there, I stay up ’till a reasonable bedtime in the arrival TZ 5) I get out into natural sunlight for at least half an hour as soon as possible when I get there – ideally walking to my meeting.

  51. Nick Farina

    For me, sleeping on the plane is the biggest part of the battle. And for that, on longer flights, I always try to get business class, preferably with a flat bed. I have traditionally had a hard time sleeping on planes, but with a good bed (Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Etihad, JAL, and BA especially) it can be a breeze to get a full nights sleep, even if you have a hard time otherwise.Lots of ways to do this without paying a biz fare – The Points Guy, One Mile at a Time, and View From The Wing blogs on Boarding Area are full of great tips on how to get upgrades and awards.For on-the-ground, second exercise and the willpower to keep awake to get on the right time zone.

  52. Uday Subbarayan

    I made 3 business trips to Bangalore from San Francisco in 2012. The truth is “there is none” available for jetlag! a) forget jetlag b) enjoy jetlag sleep- it’s wonderful c) drink more fluids than solids.

  53. Tony de Freitas

    Start to adjust you body clock before you go on a trip 1-2 days before even if small increments and when you step on the plane adjust your body clock immediately to the timezone you travelling too. Melatonin pills help as well and it is a natural supplement.

  54. anne weiler

    If you wake up in the middle of the night, meditate until your brain relaxes to fall back asleep. Can be as simple as watching your breath in and out.

  55. scottythebody

    As seasoned travellers, my wife and I have completely different views on this πŸ˜‰ Also, it depends on which direction you’re going and how far. And everybody is different.Here’s what works for my wife: sleep. She has noticed that, in her, and has noticed in people who come to visit us, the best thing possible is to just sleep when you’re tired. Once you’re well-rested, put yourself on a schedule and it’s easy. She also says “lots and lots of water and avoid alcohol. Can be detrimental to “vacation time” on short trips, and is more recommended when going East rather than West.I have heard a lot of people have started a thing where they eat on the schedule of where they are going for several days beforehand and combine that with some sort of fast before departing. Sean Bonner turned me onto this, but I’m too lazy and undisciplined to do it. I just Googled it up for you, because it turns out he wrote a post:…Personally, I am the opposite of my wife. I like to try to sleep on the plane (but can’t very well, like you), and then rally as much as possible once I get there. When I went to Japan, this actually worked for me, but I was getting really, really tired at the end of the day. I was working, so I didn’t have the “sleep it off” option at all. I started doing pretty well, but then I went to see the Pavement reunion show and then met up with my buddy who is a journalist/editor for Bloomberg in Tokyo and we went to the geisha quarter and ended up getting majorly smashed on all sorts of delightful beverages and stuffing our faces with delicious grilled skewers of anything the guys could find to put on the end of the sticks. We actually ended up in a genuine geisha’s bar she owns, and she was hosting a big party that night, so we saw about 8 geishas in Tokyo, which is, according to my friend, very, very rare. The guy making cocktails there hand-carved the ice into spheres for your drinks. Amazing, and then I had the shakes at work the next day and felt like I was sweating out of my eyes. I kept taking breaks on the fire escape to get some cool air, and saw the school boys stripped to the waist and running laps, chanting rhythmically in the rain as did lap after lap in the chilling rain. I realized that I would probably die if I tried that, but admired the effort to produce tough citizens. Then I had a coffee.

    1. scottythebody

      oh, and for East to West, I find the rally approach works great. It’s no different than pulling an all nighter, basically.

  56. Michael Makunas

    Another it’s-not-a-pill-it’s-a-supplement you could try is 5-HTP (…. I’d take it shortly before you want to sleep (either on the plane or after you get there).Also, consider talking to a naturopathic doctor (not homeopathic). They are experts on all types of these supplements and have access to some that are not sold OTC. But find one that has a healthy respect for traditional medicine and is not too “woo-woo.”

  57. JLM

    .Back in the day.Before you leave home, try to slide toward rising and retiring times more like your destination. Be a little tired when you are ready to go.Eat very light. You are trying to trick your digestive system and weaken its loyalty to your current regimen.Aspirin or Advil before takeoff. Another upon arrival.Read and rest on the plane as needed.Huge amounts of water and as little food as possible during flight. Part of your circadian rhythm is your digestive rhythm.Look into the sun when you arrive to try to calibrate your brain.Next dawn look into the sun until you can feel your eyes adjust to the brightness. This is resetting your sidereal clock.Eat a huge breakfast at you new destination’s breakfast time — you are trying to reconnect your wandering digestive clock.Lots of water.Geisha bath and massage upon arrival — hmmm, might be a hard sale to the GG but you might get lucky, who knows? Game and life changer.Repeat with sake chaser.I was a single guy in those days..

    1. fredwilson

      Great comment JLM

    2. LE

      “Geisha bath and massage upon arrival”Happy ending help with sleep, eh?

      1. JLM

        .I did seem to sleep well that night.Peace of the season and all, eh?.

    3. pointsnfigures

      Frip ovah

      1. JLM

        .Very bad. Merry Christmas.Well played!.

    4. andyidsinga

      yay – I’ve also discovered the huge breakfast thing πŸ™‚ definitely helps a ton!


      “but you might get lucky”.That’s probably the reason Fred won’t be allowed in that bath house. lol

  58. jmorf

    I do a 8+ hour time difference usually an average of about once per month during tech conference season (typically Spring and Fall). The ICANN conferences are the killers (and wonderful at the same time) as they are spread all over. In addition, I love to travel for pleasure, which makes the summer and winter seasons about the same. I’ve never taken drugs for jetlag.There are a lot of great points in the comments already, some of which I’ll repeat, but here is my memory dump on how to deal with jetlag and travel in general:- No one size solution fits, tailor what you do on your flight (ex. sleep or not) to the timezone you are entering, what you need to do when you land, and the time of day you arrive. I like to get on local time ASAP, unless the trip is 72 hours or less. This has become automatic for me these days, but it’s really not complicated. If I’m doing London – LA 4pm arrival, and I have a dinner with a friend with no meetings until the next day – the formula is good sleep the night before in London, no sleep on the plane so I can sleep in LA, pleasant dinner, and then crash just about right on time. Wake up early, go for a morning run and have an espresso for breakfast, good to go. Contrast that to London – LA 11am arrival, meetings all day and for dinner plus. Get not too much sleep the night before in London, sleep the whole way on the plane, try and work out when I arrive for 20+ mins if possible to burn some energy, if desperate for a good sleep, 2 extra glasses of red wine, crash on local time.- I go for a run or go the gym, preferably every day, but especially the first few. I prefer first thing in the morning when traveling (not when at home ironically enough). Ensures you will be worn out enough by days end.- Sometimes planning doesn’t work and things go south, in which case I find it’s best not to fight it too much ( I don’t really love feeling like hell for a half a day). Nap time. No naps over 30 mins. The ~20 minute nap works wonders for me when I have to crash but really shouldn’t. Crash for a bit, take a cold shower, chase with espresso if it’s early, and get back to my day. More than 30, and more than 1, and I have trouble sleeping.- Stick to the local meal schedule and don’t drink too much off the cuff. I prefer not to have anything at all to drink on jetlag inducing flights. Others swear by it, and I’ve tried it many times, but I’m just not convinced it ever helps. Maybe a glass or two of red wine to knock you out in a pinch.- Stay hydrated with lots of water.My (rather typical) Flight Kit:- Noise Cancelling Headphones – I use them less than I used to, but they’re golden in certain moments. I find audio books are the way to go, they are relaxing and can help prep for sleep if that’s the plan. Keep an extra battery or two tapped to the inside of the headphones case, nothing is worse than noisy neighbours and your battery dies 5 mins in.- Eye Mask. I don’t use one regularly, but it can be a lifesaver. – Earbuds. Some airlines (mostly Star Alliance?) let you use them during take off and landing now. I often try to have my audiobook on the go before take off, especially if I’m planning to sleep.- Kindle.- Water. Being on the plane with all that AC dehydrates you, especially if you’re partial to a glass of wine or a scotch. Definitely doesn’t help with jetlag if you’re short a litre or two of water. I can’t stress this one enough.Hope the jetlag gets better!

  59. Walter

    Fred,I also use to travel to Asia once a quarter. Melatonin works but I have wild dreams on it. Lots of water during the trip and get sunlight or other light to your eyes as if you were in the time zone you will be arriving at while you are flying. Exercise outside once you get there to again reset your rythms with as much sunlight to the eyes as you can. This worked for me but other co workers used a phasing of light, melatonin and dark sunglasses approach. Google it as it might work for you.Have fun in Japan!Walter

  60. Andrew

    1 – Melatonin2 – Noise Canceling Headphones + earplugs beneath them3 – EyeMask, it’s worth buying a comfortable one that fits your head well.4 – Pillow or some comfortable object to cushion your headDon’t have any shame in using an eyemask or whatever else you need. I always try to eliminate any possible smell, sound, light that could wake me from my sleep.

    1. LE

      Eye Mask:…I own a ton of these and can recommend.For the ear plugs, I had them custom fitted at the ENT. When you use them make sure to use them with ear lubricant, this is what I use:http://www.hearing-loss-hel…The lubricant make the plugs fit much easier in your ears and importantly gives you additional sound protection (because it fills the gap between the plug and your ears).I used to used foam plugs (bought them by the case) but the fitted plugs are better.Lastly, in addition to, or instead of the custom plugs, these 3m ear muffs (industrial use) put you in a real sound proof chamber. If you are sleeping upgright no problem to use:…I use them in my office as well. (Normally you wouldn’t use them sleeping in a bed since you are laying down but in an airplane they are fine).

  61. David Petersen

    Natural sunlight will help. Just walking around in daylight. Avoid sunglasses — the pineal gland in the brain brain produces melatonin when the retina is exposed to natural sunlight.

  62. Eric Hippeau

    I also find that melatonin works after long trips. But it has no effect on some people. It doesn’t completely eliminate jet lag but it does allow for some sleep.

  63. JimHirshfield

    Any web/tech/entrepreneur activities while you’re there? I’m not familiar with the startup scene there.

  64. howardlindzon

    Water and Ambien….there is no other answer. Its impossible to beat jetlag. Oh and coffee which you crave is a drug so one more wont kill you.

    1. Aaron Klein

      I’m with Howard on this one. On my trips to Africa, an Ambien, six hours of sleep and the sky club shower while changing planes in Amsterdam are the key to feeling like a million bucks when you land. πŸ™‚

      1. pointsnfigures

        Howard lives on Ambien

    2. RuthPStevens

      I agree with the Ambien idea. It’s been a lifesaver for me, for getting sleep on airplanes. I also find that if I am visiting a country for a few days I can use Ambien to sleep every night, and return home with no jet lag adjustment at all. A neat trick.

  65. Tom Labus

    No caffeine. Water water water that’s it.

  66. Richard

    Your timing is perfect (again), Miso soup! We have all heard the expression, “i had a gut feeling”. Well, the latest research is showing that gut bacteria plays a critical role in many, and i mean many, aspects of our lives. Give yourself a two week wheatfree diet and live life like the old school japanese. And take some pictures for us, thanks!

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Rich, I am a huge proponent of at least trying a wheat-free diet to see if it makes a difference. For me becoming gluten free has been a health booster. Having a child with Crohn’s has been extremely enlightening in terms of the central role of the gut in our well-being.

      1. Richard

        Donna, one of my hats is that of a specialty food, retailer and designer. If you are looking for some snack or food gluten free, I can probably steer you in the right direction.

  67. Bob Whaler

    Be a man. Seriously Fred, this is the worst White Whine I’ve read in years.You’re in Japan for vacation, when most struggle to put food on the table. Try to keep things in perspective.And above all, toughen up and be a man.

    1. Bob Whaler

      (Didn’t mean for this to sound so harsh. Still love ya Fred, but perhaps a little reflection is in order.)

      1. Shafil Inamdar

        Why you care about Fred’s sweetest problems when you could all do for yourself is to go out and help people that don’t have food in the third world countries.. You still have to catch a flight and there comes the jetlag again..

    2. fredwilson

      It seemed to spark a useful discussion for many. Sorry you hated it.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I’m soaking up this advice. Thanks for putting your dilemma out there. Some of our best discussions have come from you sharing like this. We all benefit from you not being superhuman. Although sometimes you come close. πŸ™‚

  68. craigweich

    Great info and agreed with most of above posts re exercise/ melatonin/ ambien/ etc.Another thing to add into the mix is managing your exposure to light. I’ve had good success with this on frequent trips to APAC and Middle East.Sunglasses in the arrival terminal/ drawing the shades etc — prep for a few days before you go and then upon arrival. There was a good New York Times article on this — here is a link to the NYT article and also to the technical paper behind it: need to look at the technical paper as the NYT article doesn’t really give you anything tactical to work off. The short version is that there’s sleep deprivation and jet lag. Ambien/ melatonin help with the sleep part but light/ dark is the key to not feeling awful anyway.

  69. rob balazy

    Fred – I’m guessing that you deservedly fly first class, so while separate, it’s related – when economically feasible, encourage your portfolio co. founders and employees to travel business or first if they are going to be in the air more than 6+/- hours. The difference in price is profound, but so is the difference in acuity once you land. It’s easy to be penny wise and pound foolish when you’re a cash conserving startup but time is more valuable than money. And it’s better to be relatively sharp(er) when you land than more or less crushed, as you describe, and blow a day or 2 trying to “get right”.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t fly first class

      1. pointsnfigures

        hopefully it’s business. if not, treat yourself to business on the way home.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Why not?


          Good question.

  70. tonibaas

    In my experience jet lag isn’t that bad when you travel from earlier to later time zones (from Europe to America or from Asia to Europe),… you just pull yourself and try to stay awake until at least 10pm. Next morning you’ll wake up pretty early but will be fine. Traveling from later to earlier time zones (from Europe to Asia of from America to Europe) is way harder. My rules: no alcohol, no sleep pills, no caffeine, lots of water and frugal meals.

  71. Matt A. Myers

    Longer flights, you can either stay up or try to sleep as much as possible – but not force it; I more prefer to nap when I feel like napping. I don’t eat a lot of food on flights either, and keep sugars down too.Recovery. Do yoga, and eat breakfast at Tokyo time breakfast, lunch, at Tokyo lunch time, etc.. don’t snack late. Your sleeping pattern is mostly based off when you eat – at least this is the most influencing factor when studies have been done.Worse case scenario – give into the fact you might be a zombie for the next 3 days, and that’ll make it easier.

  72. Adam Ring

    I remember the basketball player Steve Kerr advising to work out as soon as you get to your destination to reduce jet lag. Worth considering.

  73. andyidsinga

    I’ve been to Beijing a couple times for work in the past few months – here’s how I deal with it:big breakfast in the morning + several cups of coffee + a can-do winning attitude….by 7pm I’m still about dead ..but at least I made it thought the day πŸ™‚

  74. Lee Blaylock

    I used to live in Europe and used to go back and forth often. also been to 32 countries so have some tips. i’ve tried melatonin and it was ok, but not something i’d do again as i don’t like drugs even when i have a cold or flu.2 days before (esp if i need to be sharp for biz meetings when i land) i go 1/2 way on the destination time zone1 day before if at all possible i’m pretty close to the local time zone when on the plane, i make sure i drink tons of water and stay hydrated. almost never drink alcohol or sugar drinks or juices on planes. i assume i’m on local time zone and stay awake or sleep based on going east or west. east is so much easier from europe b/c you get in late and can sleep. arriving into frankfurt at 8am for a full day is harder for me. when i’m up on the plane after i land, i stretch, a lot and keep stretching esp my hamstrings and legs as those cramp up and retain fluids on long hauls when sitting. i’ve even done push ups when the plane is not full. when i’m in coach, i take thick athletic socks and then fold the blanket 4x and then put it at my feet with my stocking feet on top. it helps ever so slightly with the vibration. everything helps.Vaya con Dios!

  75. Jeff T.

    From a frequent LA<->EU traveller:1. Sleep as much as possible on the plane, though I have trouble with that too (unless drunk).2. Drink a lot of water on the plane.3. If you can spare an hour right when you land, do something physical: hotel gym, run, bike, etc. Even if it’s the morning. Wear yourself out that day so that even if you sleep a couple of hours that first night, your body will recognize it as recovery mode. 2nd day will be much better and second night should be normal.I’ve only seen a few people who can fly wherever and be completely normal, but they themselves are not normal people. They sleep 2-4hrs a night and always have energy, so basically the ideal entrepreneur πŸ™‚

    1. Wavelengths

      Nice suggestion. You are right that something happens when you put your bare feet on the ground. Not many people would think of this though. πŸ™‚

  76. Michael Friedman

    I have a simple routine that works well for me. Your routine may vary.1. Get on the plane tired. If it’s a day time flight I stay up half the night before working or wake up super early – whatever is closer to the time zone at destination.2. Work on the plane until the time I want to go to sleep at destination.3. Have several glasses of wine (puts me to sleep without the headache that strong liquor can give).4. Sleep5. If I arrive during day time and time allows I work out. 6. Make sure I don’t go to sleep until an appropriate time based on my destination time zone no matter how tired I am.I am usually able to adjust in just one day – my first morning waking up in the hotel I’m usually fresh and adjusted.

    1. Aaron Klein

      +1 same here except I usually skip the wine.

    2. Lucretia M Pruitt

      I never sleep the night before – makes my body plead for sleep whe it’s the “right time.”

  77. Paul K

    I also don’t sleep on planes and identify with your experience. The best thing I found is lots of wheat grass and/or greens with at least 3 liters of water per day. I take at least 4 doses a day starting 2 days before travel. You can buy powder or capsule form. Try it and sleep will come easier and you won’t have the headaches.

  78. Radha Kapoor

    I fly from NYC to London regularly and use Dr Bach’s Rescue Remedies. They’re totally natural, made from flowers and available at Whole Foods. They’re especially good when you wake up in the middle of the night and need to fall back asleep for a couple more hours. Good luck!

    1. Wavelengths

      I think that comes under the heading of training your body to respond to certain cues. Who cares, though, whether it’s Rescue Remedy or the placebo effect that’s working … !

  79. Chad Riddersen

    Aromatherapy can help induce sleep (it is completely natural and hasn’t been discussed yet in the comments)Lavender is the most common aroma but you can achieve the same sleep effects with a variety of aromas (eucalyptus, peppermint, chamomile, calendula, cedar, etc.).You can get a pillowcase + 3 different aromas for $19.95 on Amazon (the pillow case has a small Velcro pocket where you can fit an aromapak):…You can also fit your cell phone in the pillowcase pocket so you wake up to your phone alarm in the morning.Aromatherapy can be a life-saver if you happen to get stuck in a room where someone has smoked and you aren’t a smoker…

    1. Wavelengths

      I carry a couple of small strongly scented candles to help give those hotel rooms a more familiar smell. I like scents like balsam and pine that smell fresh but neutral — not flowery, not antiseptic. Small details that work in the background can make a difference in sleep, comfort, relaxation, and recovery from fatigue.

  80. Carel van Apeldoorn

    i have 2 advies: drink as much water as you can during your flied (learned from my sister who used to be a purser for KLM) and if you decide to take something, just take a sleeping pill and continue taking the pill for another 2 days. That should do the trick. Living in China and flying between the USA and Europe often and this always works.

    1. ShanaC

      what is a purser?

      1. Wavelengths

        I think sort of a chief of stewards/stewardesses. I think of it more as a naval term, but I guess it makes sense in the aviation world as well.

  81. Albert R

    Haha first thing I thought of on the opening line of this post: for suggestions, there are some sleep masks about which I’ve heard good things (as I’m sure others have mentioned) which basically imitate the sun’s cycles in the part of the world to which you are traveling. I think it would be worthwhile to try that along with just turning your normal lights on earlier and leaving then on later. That’s what I do when I need to shift my sleep cycle (though I’ve never traveled far, I do this quite often in anticipation of deadlines for projects and it is pretty routine now). If you have blackout curtains and don’t go outside in the non-overlapping day time, that helps too. The more I do this, the easier it is to shift my sleep cycle to nocturnal. Coffee helps too!

  82. Steve Suda

    I like using natural sun light to regulate my jet lag. On the day of departure, i also try to get on the time schedule of the city I’m traveling to. Going East is much more challenging. The first thing I do when I arrive back in the States after a trip to Asia is go outside and stay in the sun (to the extent possible). Good luck, and have a good book handy.

  83. itamarl

    Travelling east is much harder for me too, it’s easier to stay awake then forcing myself to sleep. Melatonin pills do work, together with plenty of water or I end up waking up with a feeling of hangover.For leisure trips in Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam I didn’t try to fight the jet lag and instead took advantage of it, nothing like hanging around Hanoi or Tokyo in the middle of the night, gives you a unique perspective on these cities.

  84. natala

    We’ve been having a similar discussion on a FB travel group that I’m part of and the top advice (that a few of us have tried — with good success) is changing your eating pattern after a period of fasting.The fasting is usually during plane time so that when you arrive at your destination you can eat your next meal at a regular time in the new time zone. The key is really eating in your time zone more than *sleeping* in your new time zone. For me, I need to drink water continuously on the flight, but I limit what I eat and it seems to help.

    1. Anne Libby

      Before I learned to sleep on the plane, I tried a version of “the Argonne diet” on trips to Asia. It definitely helped me, though it could have been the placebo effect.…More time intensive suggestion: I’m a big proponent of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction — a secular way of learning/teaching meditation. If you’re not sleeping because you’re holding physical tension, learning the MBSR “body scan” might help. The full MBSR course usually includes recordings of guided practices you can load onto your phone or tablet.(Someone out here probably has a recommendation for guided “progressive muscle relaxation” recordings, too.)Finally, your yoga teacher should be able to recommend some breathing exercises that can help, too.Have a great trip.

  85. David Haber

    We just made it to Australia after a half-day layover in Vancouver. I ended up sleeping something like 12 hours on the flight after having stayed up the night before in NY and all day in Vancouver. Still a bit tired, but delaying sleep until the right time zone definitely helped me acclimate.Enjoy Japan! Julia and I went for two weeks in 2010, and it was amazing – one of our favorite places. Ponto-cho in Kyoto was particularly neat.

    1. fredwilson

      Enjoy Australia David

  86. Fernando Gutierrez

    I’ve flown Europe-US monthly for more than two years without a jet lag problem. I sleep quite well in airplanes, but to be sure I sleep I frequently pull an all nighter the previous night. Usually there is a lot to do before going for a few days, so it’s also very convenient to be more relaxed about pending things to do in the firsts days of the trip (that also helps me to sleep better!).As others have mentioned, some exercise is great. And don’t overschedule your first day at destination!

  87. Ian Smith

    I found the advice in Overcoming Jet Lag by Charles F. Ehret very helpful. I fly long-haul several times a year. You avoid alcohol, eat less on the day of travel and hit your system with caffeine at the prescribed time.

  88. craigweich

    Agreed re exercise/ melatonin/ water/ caffeine. One more aspect which has helped me travel to APAC and Middle East is managing exposure to light. The idea is that there are really two phenomena going on: sleep deprivation and body clock, and you need to work them both. Managing light helps shift the body clock faster, up to twice as fast as you can otherwise.It was covered in a NYT article, you will want to at least skim the research paper that is referenced as the NYT article doesn’t give you enough to work with. Links to both are here: tactics vary by direction of travel and time of arrival, but example for night arrival in Middle East is wearing sunglasses on plane, in arrival terminal, all the way through to hotel until you have shades drawn/ lights off. Good luck!

  89. Sean C

    I’d say do some physical activity when you arrive, like go for a jog or something to get the body working again, push yourself a bit so jet lag is almost forgotten about. Then book a good massage that evening to relax and help you sleep better.

  90. alanweinkrantz

    Melatonin- not a drug. Really works. Over the counter.

  91. Mark Essel

    30 hours without caffeine would be the death of me

  92. jason wright

    leave your head at home.

  93. Can Atacik

    I had used this book when I worked for an international organization travelling all over the place. It gives precise guidelines for specific combination of destinations, telling you exactly what, how much and when to eat, sleep etc depending on where you live and where you will travel to……..Overcoming Jetlag:

  94. Ebun Okubanjo

    Leonard Lopate (WNYC) did a show about this a while back, it is worth listening to….

  95. Stan Bokov

    I generally try not to sleep as much as possible in the upcoming day or two before the trip. Once you get on your plane, it doesn’t really matter where you sleep well or not – your body knocks you out. Once you sleep and wake up at the destination you are already naturally in the “new” cycle already and function as usual.

  96. petertaylor

    For me, solutions to this problem have varied withlife stage and have never been a constant. Importantly, I accidentallydiscovered that ambient cabin noise limited my sleep on long-haul flights.Using earplugs and good noise cancelling headphones over them transformedme from a non-sleeper (~ 2 hours sleep max) to a consistently good sleeper(~7-8 hours) with the removal of that subconscious irritation. That was a bigdeal. It seemed to make all applied anti-jet lag techniques more effective as well.

  97. markslater

    when i used to travel to asia frequently from the US – i would avoid the long hauls. I would go to london (6hrs), then the gulf (dubai, abu dhabi) and then on to jakarta. IT probably added 4 or 5 hours to the trip but i got to get of the plane and go to a gym or at minimum take a shower and have a good meal. – I found this to be the best approach.there is nothing healthy about being in a tube for 9+ hours in my view. And i’d hedge to guess there is anyone that actually “sleeps well” on a plane. I did take some pills on one trip – all that did was make it worse at the other end.maybe try the 787 – they are touting better air quality and a more comfortable to you and the family for the holidays and for next year – thanks for keeping us engaged this year with such great topics and discussion!

  98. markslater

    it also has to do with carriers imo.If anyone has been on Etihad, Singapore, emirates – then you’ll know what i mean. Its not even close when it comes to passenger comfort both at the airports and onboard.We here in the US have become enslaved to a very poor carrier quality unfortunately.what carrier did you fly fred?

  99. Andrew Broderick

    Great advice above. I’d also add getting as much sunlight as possible when you get to your destination. It helps your circadian rhythm adjust (see Mayo Clinic site for details). You can also try melatonin as a natural sleep aid.

  100. Laurie Barlev

    What I have tried to do is adjust to the new time on the plane. On the way there, I try to sleep as close to night hours in the destination time zone as possible–even if this means 6AM-11AM.Once I have arrived, I avoid naps and go to sleep at a normal time in the new time zone (i.e. at 9PM W. Europe time even if it is 3PM ET). I psych myself out and adopt the time zone I am in. The second night, I may take a tylenol PM and if I wake up, I read for a bit and then try to go back to sleep. I lie in bed and rest even if I can’t sleep. If I get another hour of sleep (and 3 hours of rest), it usually means I have slept at least 5 hours during the night. That is enough to function almost normally the next day.This seems to work for me…..I have heard that when you arrive in a foreign place you should be outside during the day as much as possible. I think it has to do with sunlight.

  101. drhaswell

    Hi Fred -Long time follower (thank you!), first-time commenter.I spent 4.5 yrs at Zeo, the sleep startup, and one of the gems I came across while there was this literature review on jet lag:…The short version is that there are 3 big levers to control jet lag:1. Sleep2. Light3. MelatoninAll the other stuff (diet, exercise, etc) can help with “travel fatigue” – this is different than jet lag / circadian issues (which are the larger issue).The key to making the shift as fast as possible is TIMING. If you sleep, seek/avoid light, or take melatonin at the wrong times, it’ll just mess you up more. See the article for specific recommendations on timing (which depends on which direction you’re traveling, and how many time zones you’re moving).Hope this helps. Thanks again.-Derek

    1. ShanaC

      First off, welcome. Secondly the other “travel fatigue” issues can impact total sleep quality.

      1. drhaswell

        Thanks for the welcome, ShanaC.Agreed. It’s just that people often confuse the two – travel fatigue and jet lag – and blend their solutions together to create a confusing cocktail of a cure that takes more effort than necessary. Like treating yourself for the flu every time you get a fever.Happy holidays!

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I’ve saved the article, thanks. I appreciate you making the distinction between travel fatigue and jet lag. Solutions that are over-complicated tend to be more difficult to sustain — at least for me..

      1. drhaswell

        Glad to hear it, Donna. Same goes for me too… πŸ˜‰

  102. mrshawnyeager

    I don’t get to Asia, but we are setting up operations in the middle east so I spend some time in Dubai. 16 hour flight. The first time I was there, I was jet lagged for 4 days. And then I remembered the wisdom of slow travel. . It may not help you because of your schedule. A old company co founder of mine was an Aussie and would go LA to Tokyo, spend a day and then continue on to Brisbane for holiday. His rule was no more than 8 hours on a plane (10 if you had to stretch). Don’t fly direct to a foreign destination. What good are you if you’re sick for 3 days and unproductive, but there in the shortest time period possible, as opposed to a day later (after you’ve had sushi in Tokyo and mixed with its people for an evening), and happy as a clam? And it works. I swear it does. I wont even go to Hawaii from East Coast now without stopping and seeing friends in SF or LA. Think of it like the “slow food” movement, a slower travel model actually does some great things for the mind and body.Oh and btw, I used it on my way back from Dubai after beings strung out. Stopped in Amsterdam. Felt great upon arrival home the following day. Just as important to feel well coming home as it does going for meetings.

  103. thomasknoll

    I remember Joi Ito (who probably used to travel 200+ days a year) talking about an anti-jetlag fasting trick. But, I can’t seem to find any details via search. Maybe it was in IRC. Maybe he can come share his secret? (checking)

  104. Lucretia M Pruitt

    I’ve gotten through better than half of the comments and have yet to see this. One of my tricks is an apple in the morning. Surprisingly (and Google will back me up on this heartily) eating an apple first thing in the morning has a more salutary effect than caffeine. But there’s no downside. When I’m way off my schedule (especially going eastward) I ask at the front desk or via room service for a couple of unsliced, unprepared apples.The melatonin, staying up the night before travel and sleeping at local time, meditation advice has all been given in spades, so I’ll just ditto that, but add an apple a day – it really does keep the doctor away! πŸ˜‰

  105. EmilSt

    I try just not to think about it. When I get tired during the first day I stay awake as mush as I can in the evenining, then go to bed and hopefully wake up regularly in the morning…I can’t sleep in airplanes. Even if I do, I think it makes me even more tired.

  106. Chris

    Maximizing one’s ability to sleep with lie-flat business class (or failing that, something as close to horizontal as possible) goes a long way.Going into the flight, the less stable my sleep schedule (in terms of variance in times) was leading up to the flight, the more easily I can power through the first day. Being tied going into the flight (esp. for mid-day flights from the US to Asia) helps as well.

  107. Joey Xu

    My method is to NEVER sleep on airplanes on long-haul flights back to Asia. I take the night flight, basically pull an all-nighter, then spend a day in Asia. By the time night rolls around again, I am way too tired to care that I’m not supposed to sleeping. It may create some exhaustion/sleepiness on your first day – nothing that a cup of coffee can’t fix though.

  108. anand

    think of it as running a marathon. drinking water helps. for me gatorade helps the most to keep sugar levels stable and avoid headaches. stretching/physical activity on the plane helps a lot too.

  109. Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy

    I drink plenty of water during the flight. Once I have checked-in, I have a good workout (running couple of miles. no weights) and again drink plenty of water. I usually get refreshed by then.

  110. James Altucher

    Fred, I don’t know if you are still reading comments on this thread but I will throw in my advice. The past two years I’ve gone to India twice and Argentina twice. I will tell you the main thing that has worked for me and I get ZERO jet lag:A) do not eat for the 24 hours before you are supposed to land. This means, of course, you don’t eat on the plane at all. Only drink water. This throws your body into a sort of shock that supersedes the jet lag shock. So your body is more focused on returning to its normal eating rhythm than sleeping rhythm.B) then, of course, make sure you don’t sleep until nighttime at your destination. This is basic advice. If you sleep before then, you’re doomed.Finally, A Visit from the Good Squad is a great book. Anyone who says there are no modern good novels simply needs to write that book which is part-novel, part-interconnected stories. If you like that one you might also like “The Night Circus” from Erin Morgenstern.

  111. bernardlunn

    I have learned to treasure the jet lag moments of calm and quiet, wonderful for creativity and reflection – knowing full well that I WILL pay for that fun later!

  112. schultzmj

    The best strategy for me was always to keep it simple. When I land, get right into whatever time of day it is at the destination and go. That means planning ahead so that if you are going to arrive at night when you should be ready to go to sleep then you need to stay awake on the flight… can be hard if you cannot sleep on planes and you arrive in the morning and need to stay awake for 12 hours but I always viewed that like I pulled an all nighter for a big deal and then just had to fight my way thru the next day.Always stayed away from drugs to deal with it….enough challenges with long haul travel, different foods, environments, etc. and never wanted to add that to the equation.

  113. bernardlunn

    Veg and protein, no sugar, no starch, no caffeine and lots of water. Start this 24 hours before flying, through the flight and 24 hours after the flight. Even if you don’t sleep much-you feel pretty good. From Bernard’s wife.

  114. Sean Hull

    I’ve managed to sidestep Jetlag pretty much completely on my trips to Singapore & Japan. 3 days before my trip I go to sleep 4hours late. Next night 8hours late. I try to sleep my normal amour 6-7 hours both nights. I’ll nap a bit if I really need it. 3rd night I stay up all night before the flight.Then I crash for most of the flight. When I arrive I’m sure to stay awake the whole day until 12 or 1am. This is usually the toughest day. Next day I’m on Singapore time! Worked really well last few times I tried it.

  115. Ed Roberto

    Fred – a frequent traveler just back from Tokyo. Get on the destination time zone a day before you jump on the plane. Try and sleep on the plane (Ambian assistance may help). Hit the gym when you get to your destination.

  116. Melih Onvural

    It’s all about eating for me. Make sure you eat when you normally wouldn’t, and your body will get the chemical message that it’s being reprogrammed.Make sure though that you eat things like soup, sandwiches, and other light nibbles as anything big will send you to sleep.

  117. Veronika Sonsev

    When I recently flew to Australia, someone recommended acupressure and it worked like a charm.Every 2 hours you stimulate the acupressure point for the current time in your destination. It just takes a couple minutes. If you’re sleeping, you can skip that point. This document offers a good explanation with diagrams of the acupressure points:….After a long flight to Australia, I had no issues with jet lag. My friends napped while I read and explored the city. Can’t recommend it enough!

  118. Timothy Post

    Fred… for crying out loud, if you “struggle with jet-lag” take an ambien and get a good nights rest. This isn’t rocket science not is it moral quandary. Howard is correct… coffee is as much a “drug” as ambien or aspirin. Happy travels )))

  119. rdeichert

    I know this comment is late in the game, but here’s a list of tips I’ve found work to sleep on the plane and avoid the jet lag. My regular business travel routes have been NYC to TLV (coach), NYC to JFK (coach), NYC to Delhi (coach).Getting Sleep on the plane:1. Ambien – I know you said no drugs, but I recently got a prescription and they work really well.2. Sleep Mask3. Foam ear plugs – get a bottle of them at CVS.4. Neck pillow – I have the Thermarest and it works great I find some of other pillows don’t have enough give.5. Window seat (to avoid people climbing over you and waking you up plus the wall can serve as something to lean up against.6. ExOfficio underwear – – Tim Ferris turned me onto them and from a long flight and staying comfortable they just work.7. Dress as light as possible with layers – it’s always easier to bundle up versus get cool if the plane is really warm.8. Plenty of water.Once I land:1. Get as much sunlight exposure2. Ambien before bed by 12 midnight local time3. Workout the next morning and sweat.

  120. Timothy CHen

    Go running or swimming right before you go to sleep. Wear yourself out. During the day if you have jetlag, take a one hour nap.

  121. Techman

    You’ve been to Australia? I’m thinking about visiting Sydney one day. How was your trip like?

    1. fredwilson

      Awesome tripGreat country

      1. Techman

        That’s nice to hear. I’ll definitely fly there at some point.

  122. Youssef Rahoui

    I am just back home (Paris, France) from 10 days of holidays in Panama City, Panama. During the flight, It happened that I discussed this issue with a steward, who gave me some useful peaces of advices.The main idea is to do everything you can to adapt to the local time. That means:- try to arrive in the morning or in the evening- sleep as much as you can while in the plane- don’t sleep during the day (or take just a nap) and sleep at night (but early if you can).I worked for me: After an 9 hours flight and a 6 hours jet lag, I arrived in France yesterday at 10AM, took a 30′ nap, went to bed at 10:30PM and got up today at 9AM, which is very late for me but I was then completely fine.Hope it helps!