Fun Friday: Jet Lag
I always struggle with jet lag but the Asia trip kills me like no other.
I’ve heard all sorts of suggestions like work out as soon as you arrive, swim every morning, start getting on Asia time a few days before you leave, and take Melatonin or even stronger drugs.
I have tried most of those suggestions over the years and while I feel like they all work to some degree I’ve come to the conclusion that it just takes time.
We are three days in and I’m hoping the worst is over.
Of course there is the jet lag upon return to deal with too.
Since it’s Friday (here in Asia), I thought we could discuss this topic in the comments and see what the AVC community does to handle jet lag.
Well, the truth is that I’ve tried every remedy you have, and then ten others. And I’m a failure. It is the dominant narrative of my working life (where working = going on the road to give a speech). I’ve crossed off entire continents from my work. I went to Japan for 69 hours. I left India four days early. I get jet lag just from Daylight Savings.Circadian rhythm is a good name for a rock band, but the fact is, if humans were meant to change time zones, we’d have invented the jet. Or something like that.Sigh.
You crack me up Seth. And that’s a great thing
Elon Musk has the solution!
The Tease Ponies is the best unused rock band name I have ever heard.https://answers.yahoo.com/q…
You ever wonder where ridiculous band names come from
Yup. That’s what I said….Day 3 will be the new normal.One more trick: drink lots of water. You trick your body into thinking it’s day.
I travel to China twice a year. Two ways that worked for me. – sleep through the whole 15hrs flight – keep myself awake through the whole flight.
My trick has been 3+ liters of water on the outbound. And enough alcohol to get a buzz going and a melatonin on arrival. Plenty of water when I wake up with a steam/sauna session and a work out and I’m ready.Or just 3/4 days of feeling like a weirdo.
Jet lag and morning sickness. Why the heck haven’t we conquered them? I’m with you, have tried everything to no avail. I’ll go with William on the water helping, barely, and its really the 4th day I feel good. Sigh.
I have become better with it over time where now I “join the time” in that country in terms of staying awake or sleeping at night. My most recent success with no jet lag at all with this was 2 weeks ago which started with a flight out over the Pacific to Singapore for a night, then India for a night and then a flight to Scotland, via Brussels, for 10 days and then back via NYC over the Atlantic to SFO.
Water, stay up until it’s time to sleep on local time. Melatonin. More water, exercise and sleep on time
if you don’t mind wearing slightly unfashionable glasses https://www.re-timer.com/be…came out of university research
You can’t do this at this point, but, its all about getting the right outbound flight. Get a flight that lands between 8 am and 1030 am. Get up early on the day of the the outbound, and go to sleep on the plane at 8pm local time where you are going to land, or as soon as possible when you board. Lay flat seats are worth the extra dollars if you travel like @sethgodin:disqus and spend a day or two in one country or another.
Think about how daylight Savings Time throws everyone off like jet lag every year…I’ve never found anything that works either, except time.The one thing I’ve noticed, though, is to travel based on your own circadian rhythms. For example, I’m a night owl so when I travel to the West Coast, I always do it in the afternoon so I arrive in the evening. I insure that I have social plans, so that I get off the plane and am heading toward something fun. Once I do crash, I tend to wake up in the right California time. (The way back to the Northeast is brutal, however, and I’ve never discovered a solution.)
Fred, I am leaving Singapore going back home as i write this. The only thing that works for me is to get your body biorhythms aligned to your destination and for me it is to adjust your eating schedule as you board the plane to align with your projected eating schedule when you land. For me, it works every time.
Mind over matter. Don’t say “it’s xxx time in NYC” – that constant math messes with the mind, and then inevitably the body.Get onto local time when one arrives and then stay on it. No naps.Caffeine as a crutch (maybe big one).Active but via walks, yoga, etc. nothing too intense or it’ll sap everything.Booze before bedtime to knock one out for good. But moderate. ;-)Lots of water.This all works on way back too.
Yes, yes, yes.As a 3mm Miler on AA you are 100% right. The time is where you are. No naps. The hard part is powering through after lunch.
We share the mileage number/honor.
My wife is the major flyer in our house – she says your stomach is your clock.Make sure to eat according to the time zone you are heading to for the day before you go and force yourself to eat on time when you land.She would support everything you listed as well.
David, why was Return Of Kings band, specifically? It seems like an awfully heavy-handed censorship. Stop judging. Your customers demand answers
If you can get 6+ hours of half decent sleep in any 24 hour period and hydrate well you can beat it mentally inside of two days. Get on local time immediately and keep telling yourself you’ve had the sleep you need. If you don’t get your normal amount of sleep you’re going to feel like you do on a lack of sleep at home.
Agree. It’s push to stay active-awake in the day, but be determined to sleep at night. Sometimes the latter was a harder challenge for me – I relished pushing on in the night.
Ever tried fasting the day before Fred?https://harpers.org/blog/20…
Heading the opposite direction – East – I’ve found 4 keys based on science confirmed on many trips…-skip caffeine for 1-2 days before travel-confuse yourself on the flight & lose track of the time. Spin your watch. But hydrate. -schedule to arrive early in the day-after arriving, spend the rest of the day outside or at least where you can see light. Walking is great. Let the sun begin to tell your body the local time. Never nap. Never go underground where the sun can’t reach you, or your mind memory of “home” time will take over. -By the end of the day of walking, with a larger late meal and wine, you should readily sleep. Sleep. -wake up and coffee in the morning, but not all day. It resets your body clock. Coffee the next morning also.But I don’t have a westbound solution.
Jake Byrne:How about skip the caffeine for the rest of one’s life?
I have, but for tinitus. Maybe you are addressing those for whom it’s fuel – I agree that’s not a positive.
I usually start adjusting 2x days before I leave if I can, just adjusting my schedule in NYC by waking up at . You can also spend also few days in Califorina to help on the way out if you have time.I usually take the Cathay flight direct to HK and it gets me in early in the morning. Then stay up all day miserably.
I was one of the first two folks Dell sent overseas as an ExPat in 1990-1993. London and Frankfurt and did the trip back often to Austin (sucks having that extra leg from Dallas or elsewhere!) . No real way to get around it. Stretching a lot on the plane and upon arrival did help. Never tried Melatonin. Dell was cheap so no first class but I found flying in thick cotton socks and having one of the blankets folded in quarters under my stocking feet helped dampen the vibration a bit. not much but everything helped. The other thing I focused on was just being thankful for being 25 and having that experience. The folks who were stuck in their cubicles wished they were traveling so I focus on my blessings.
CONTRIBUTORS:What the sleep experts say:Hydrate. Dry and pressurized airplane cabins can quickly dehydrate you, making you feel extremely sleepy. …Sleep. If you can sleep on the plane—even for a few hours—it makes a big difference. …Avoid naps. Try to stay awake until your bedtime in your new time zone.
Fred – if you’re reading these at night, shut it off and use willpower to sleep. Don’t make my old mistake and keep pushing through late hours. (-:
I’ve been traveling to Asia 5-6 times per year for more than 10 years from Boston, and I’ve managed to keep jet lag to a minimum. Here is what I do: 1) Absolutely stay up all night before your flight — do not go to sleep — sleep deprivation is your friend in this situation. 2) Start your journey with a morning flight if you’re leaving from the U.S. east coast. 3) Stay up on the trans-Pacific portion of your flights at least until you’ve eaten whatever meal they’re serving. 4) Have a couple drinks and take a melatonin; 5) Sleep for as long as you can, resisting the urge to wake up. (Note that this is much easier to do in a lay flat business class seat than in economy!)When you arrive in Asia, probably in the afternoon to early evening, depending on your destination, stay up until a reasonable time like midnight, take another melatonin, and go to sleep. This allows you to catch up on your forced sleep deprivation that you started by staying up all night before your first flight.For me at least, I will wake up the next morning on Asia time feeling relatively normal. Not perfect, but not too bad. And I find I will adjust pretty quickly over the next couple of days.
Some good tactics in here so far. Haven’t heard these 2 so will mention…for overall sleep hygiene, which seems even more important w/ travel across time zones, I like blue blockers at night if you are looking at any screens (even if using night mode on phone or laptop) and some Lavender oil behind the ears or on neck.
I do a lot of travel from Australia/Asia to US West coast and East Coast . Monthly. Coach. Going from US to Oz seems to be easier because you’re going from East to West. However going the other way ie. to NY or Boston is extraordinary challenging. Try not being able to sleep until 5am. The main way I manage it is to shift my routine to be kind to the body ie. I work afternoon and evenings, not mornings. As to the travel itself: why spend $$$ on flat beds when with a bit of planning you can go coach. Here’s my formula:1. Fly A380s – extremely important on the long haul sectors . Smooth and quiet regardless where you are seated.2. Pick an aisle seat in a small quiet section.3. Pay a little more for a good airline with lounge access at both ends. Make requests to make the flight more comfortable – a better blanket , another pillow etc. Find an airline that says yes to your requests.4. Visit a masseur or chiropractor on arrival.5. Sleep, sleep , sleep. Try sleeping more than you would ordinarily do back home. Use eyeshades to block light.6. Fresh air , walking , exercise – Do whatever works to feel human again.7. Find a hotel/accomodation that you like and use them as your base to help with routine .
I started a routine a number of years ago, and it works amazing for me at least. Apparently food intake is one of the primary (if not lead) regualators of your internal body clock – therefore during flight eat no food and drink just water. Then on landing get straight into normal meal timings. This simple trick has made a huge difference for me. Avoid the food!!!! Really try it, you’re be amazed.
Interesting – will have to try that
If you are a dog person, you know that stomachs are more consistently accurate than the best caesium atomic clocks.
Lots of water, setting my watch to the destination time zone before flying (and aligning meals and sleep patterns if possible), exercise (even if it’s a walk) and sunlight asap when landing. I also have started using an rtd called 1above which I take during and after the flight (I find this works very well, may well be placebo -haven’t looked too deep as a placebo effect that works is just as good as the real thing!)
When I flew those 15 hour flights to Dubai on the way to Iraq or Afghanistan I drank water ran when I got there and then went to dinner. Anyway I did it it took 7 days to adjust
I hate Jet-Lag. And scientists are only starting to understand how fragile our inner circadian rhythms are even to a 2-3 hour change. I’m no expert, but when my now-wife and I were in the earliest stages of our romance and she was living in Brazil and I was living in New York she sent me this song.https://www.youtube.com/wat…I like the song. And I always think of it when I hear the term Jet Lag :)- Harry
Put your clock on local time on the flight there. No booze but lots of water on the flight. Stick to your routines but on local time from your feet hit the ground. No naps. Take one melatonin pill a day for as many days as you are time zones away (i.e. moving across 6 time zones you take one pill a day for 6 days). Never fails to work for me.
https://humancharger.com/ – The Sun in your pocket.
Take 2 Apple Airpeds with water three times a day for the first 48 hours.the ensuing haemorrhoids will make jet lag seem like fun.
Bikram Yoga. Period. Find a studio and go. Don’t question it. I know it sounds crazy but Bikram beats just about anything we do to our bodies.
Fred, it’s your Mandala Yoga buddy / surfer, Alyssa. I’m actually in Helsinki for my client, HundrED’s Global Innovation Summit in K12 (met your friend Linda Liukas from Hello Ruby; she’s amazing) and also am suffering from jet leg.I know you’re a fan of going to an actual yoga class but it’s challenging when traveling and especially if it’s to a foreign country. I reco Jivamukti’s Spiritual Warrior hour long sequence which is easy to remember, very grounding and gets all the kinks out. Really helpful after a long flight. You should check it out!But if there’s one master pose for those sleepless nights it’s Legs up the Wall. This gentle inversion is rejuvenating for the entire body and for the mind. It lets the body fully relax while calming the nervous system and improving circulation. This pose will also help relieve both physical and mental stress, and can help alleviate headaches, boost energy, relieve lower-back pain, and allow your body to naturally drain stagnant fluid that may build up after sitting for long periods of time.Hope you’re over the hump (the struggle is real) and enjoy Asia!
It’s all sleep, hydration and some variation of personal myths on how to get this done.The body always win and we all suffer on this one.Really great thread.
Simple (for me)Always behave on local time as soon as you arrive. They key thing here is to not got to bed around your normal bed time (in the new timezone) and get up about he same time as you would normally (all ± 2hrs). If you wake up early, just stay in bed in a dark room and don’t get up….If you arrive early in the morning then a 1 hour nap is OK, but no longer. And don’t nap int he afternoon of the arrivalIf going from the US to Europe this means you’ll need to sleep overnight on the flight. Close those eyes as soon as you sit down and get 6+hrs rest (maybe not good sleep). Taking medication is an option hereOften the first day is a bit tired, but after that night of sleep I’m ready to goEat when hungryThis works for me going east or west
Nothing works. Coming back is always worse. How people can sleep on planes is beyond me
I fall asleep immediately.Spent the 90s basically living on the airplane for a decade and its simply second nature now.
Being able to sleep is key.
Yup.I go to Asia infrequently and Europe a lot so the old hack of putting yourself into Europes time zone is really workable from either coast.I now sleep in my QC35s when not upgraded all the way forward and it helps.
We are the same. Key: If you want to sleep don’t start work, just start sleeping. I don’t think I have remembered 25% of takeoffs. For some reason the hum and the bouncing put me to sleep like a big baby. I once had a doctor ask me….did you remember takeoff? Nope. Do you remember the turbulence? Nope. You don’t look like you are on anything? Nope. I asked her if I was talking in my sleep or was snoring. She said a bit of snoring, but she said she was watching me and knew I was in REM sleep.
Yup, we are the same.The only time it is different is I often take the first flight out JFK to LAX, get up freakin horrid early and figure I’ll do my work, then nap so I roll into a lunch meeting in Santa Monica.
I can sleep in business class. have a hard time in coach. Trip to Italy I took an Ambien on the way over and it worked like a charm
Good tip. On flights to Japan, Japanese guys would drink a vile of stuff as soon as they sat down. Out for the count before we took off!!!
Do not drink with that stuff. I on multiple occasions have had to help a stewardess muscle a big guy like you back to your seat when you are acting like a zombie. Seriously. My business partner has to….they are nice because we are up front but i don’t know about coach.
Training (I’m one of those people who sleep on planes)
Currently up at 6:30 a.m. after returning from Portugal the day before yesterday. Took the red eye to there and did not sleep a wink. It’s a good thing we planned for the first day or two to just involve laying on the beach. I’d say three days in I finally adjusted. Today of course is better than yesterday when I woke up at 5:30, so the body does seem to make progress, but it sucks. This is my first time really dealing with it this severely. My strategy is generally to fight it but when I hit the wall I go with it. Went to work early yesterday and probably will do the same today.That being said I had not taken a real “vacation” in a few years due to circumstances beyond my control. The stars aligned and a friend whose parents are from Portugal invited me on this trip. It’s amazing what it does for your personal mental health to (mostly) disconnect and change contexts for a while. The jet lag was worth it.
This posting made me smile. Like you, I’m suffering from a jetlag (from trip to Asia) simply because I didn’t follow the golden rule of avoiding jetlags…had too much food and wine on the plane topped with way too many cups of coffee, and then managed to fall asleep for the duration of the flight. When I landed in LA at 6pm, I was ready to tackle the day. 🙂
Another more civilized way to do it, is to break-up the trip into 2. Stop in Europe for 3-4 days, then go to Asia from there.
top tip.any mode of transport that is closer to Mach 1 than walking speed invites brain and body lag.i’ve never heard of land lag.
My friend that travels there all the time does it that way. Backwards. Europe, then Asia.
This is a pretty solid idea… now if only I had the time for a few extra days on my trips!
I swear by jetzone herbal pills, my wife is a true believer also after lots of skepticismVery similar to the original nojetlag pills from nz Chew a small mint like tablet every two hours when traveling ,pretty much no jet lag to and from Europe and helps tremendously to from Asia That plus lots of walking in sunshine
When you land in Asia from America. Go straight to the bar. Order a couple of cocktails. Go up to your room and draw the drapes. Sleep as long as humanely possible.
For me the pattern seems to be to accept the fact that I will lose most of the first night’s sleep and have a worthless next day, then if I can keep myself awake till that night I’ll be tired enough to sleep through the night – after that I’m kind of, sort of ok, if I then take melatonin to help fall asleep, taking it immediately before bedtime (NOT taking it through the day as an attempt to “regulate sleep hormone rhythms” which is useless IMO).Oh, and exercise as much as possible. very very helpful.
Fred, a few useful hacks are:1. resetting your circadian rhythm using a device like HumanCharger (https://humancharger.com/). It looks like an iPod nano and has little LED earbuds that shine bright white/blue light into your ear canals. Based on your current timezone, destination, and date of travel, it will tell you when to “dose” (i.e., short 10-minute sessions) leading up to your trip. Has worked wonders for me.2. Another great jet lag hack is drinking water with molecular hydrogen (massive antioxidant, and rehydrates the body). I use Vital Reaction tablets (https://www.vital-reaction….. Just place one in 12oz spring water every 90 minutes.3. Lastly, there’s grounding. Stand barefoot on grass (preferably damp) or wet sand for 10-15 minutes.Enjoy your trip!
Walk barefoot on the grass for about 10 minutes during daylight in the new location. Best method I’ve come across.
Well, it does seem overall to take about one day per hour to fully recover. For me, I force myself into the timeframe of where I will be. No matter how I feel I want to eat, sleep and rest as if I am at home, and this along with a lot of water and no alcohol seems to help a lot.
Equipment.The new dreamliners make a big difference. i try not to ever travel on the older planes
Perfect point! The Dreamliner cabin altitude is 6,000 feet. The typical non Dreamliner cabin altitude is 8-10,000 feet. Pulse oximetry shows oxygen saturation at 8,000ft altitude to be 88-92% where at sea level the typical saturation is 95-100% (depending on the individual’s general health status. If you are in the hospital and present O2 saturation of 88-89% it will be deemed clinically relevant, and they will put you on oxygen. Such low O2 sat can lead to terrible outcomes such as heat syncope, headache, and possibly lead to life threatening heart events.Typical humidity on a non-dreamliner at cruise altitude is 14 – 18% relative humidity. By way of comparison, the Sahara desert averages 25% humidity. The cabins are not humidified due to causing corrosion in the fuselage over time and dramatically reducing the lifespan of the aircraft. The 787 Dreamliner actively introduces humidity to the cabin. I haven’t yet tested the actual figures on the 787, but will be doing so in march 18 when I fly to Berlin.One dirty little item of gossip is that some airlines may reduce of O2 on redeyes to “encourage” passengers to go to sleep.Message – fly 787s when on long haul trips. I won’t fly anything else anymore.
90 minutes in a float tank did the trick for me after my last trip to China.
Going to Asia, well, I never figured that part out. Coming back, for me, was always easy. Stay awake. Watch as many movies as possible and drink a fair amount of single malt scotches. You land in the early evening, completely wiped out, caught up on your movie drought, and you get hom and fall asleep-mischief managed.
I’m the opposite. Coming back is worse than going to Asia. Maybe the direction of the flights take some role? The best way I’ve found to fight jet lag is to have sleep deprivation during flight and lots of sun exposure upon arrival (I live in Brazil, that’s easy for me). Nothing scientific to back me up, just trial and error.
So we would be perfect if I could learn from you, and you from me…
There are two different things on such long haul flights.a) tiredness from stress and strain of the journeyb) time adjustmentThe two are often confused into a general mess of feeling shitty after a long flight..I have found that wearing noise cancelling headphones pretty much the whole flight very significantly reduces a) above and hence I don’t feel quite as shitty. The key point is that engine noise is there all the time and such noise is itself tiring. It is also however extremely regular and hence can be very efficiently cancelled out.
Stay up for 36 hours on the way there 🙂
Two Gin and Tonics as soon I get the outbound flight
“So now you know the fix for jet lag: Travel east and you’ll need morning light and evening melatonin; go west and you’ll need evening light and morning melatonin.”https://mobile.nytimes.com/…
They have a name for the tag on my bag. It is called the bad Dad tag. So a little of both. I am home today. I am using a Toro Dingo to move dirt and clamshells. It amazes me how powerful they are and that somebody would rent me for $160 for the day: https://www.toro.com/en/pro…
I remember when I flew 3 continents in one week – brutal. I didn’t make a joke of it – got on local time ASAP (as in on the plane), lotsa of water and fresh veggies (cucumbers or carrots) to stay light, and Unisom as soon as the local time tells me to sleep. It worked! toan
1. 24 hours prior to your trip, start thinking in your destination’s time zone to start prepping your circadian rhythm.2. Once on the plane, make sure you’re matching your activities with your destination’s time zone (e.g. sleeping if it’s night time, waking if it’s day time, etc.).3. Use a sleep mask to block out the light from open windows and other people’s screens.4. Drink A LOT of water (when awake, of course).5. Don’t drink booze (yes, that means no cheap wine or Absolut sodas).6. Fast (i.e., don’t eat ANY plane food, and only eat healthy snacks you brought on at appropriate times, in line with your destination’s time zone).7. Supplement with 5HTP prior to sleeping on the plane and when you arrive to NY.8. Supplement with Vitamin C and Glutathione pre and post flight (air quality is really bad on planes, part of the jet lag is due to the mixup in time zones, as well as the side effects from being in a metal container 40,000 ft. above sea level with recycled air supply).
Fast on flight. Works every time. No food. No caffeine. Only water.
Hydration and not fretting over it ( with less alcohol or none) has always helped me. I take Melatonin for psyche reasons knowing well it does not work.
This works for me. The most recent discovery that nailed this process was no alcohol on the day of flying or on the plane at all. Try it. You’ll be amazed.I flew Australia-Dubai-London, walked off the plane to a few meetings, crashed that night and minimal jetlag the next day. Woke up around 6am the 2nd morning which is better than the 3:12 am insanity!Did the same London-Houston-Austin and then LA-Australia so it works.Try this:Set your watch/phone to destination time as you get on the plane.No alcohol at all. Even it’s its free and tempting you can afford your own when you land so resist it.Don’t sleep until it’s your normal bedtime. Go to sleep when your watch says it’s that time.Sleep. Use earplugs.If you can’t sleep lie there with your eyes closed. You’re still resting.Stay awake all day until sunset.If you can’t, have a powernap for max one hour. Force yourself up, cold shower and get out. This is the hardest as you feel dead for The first hour but you’ll perk up.Get some dinner and a glass of wine/whatever.Go sleep as late as you can. You’ll probably only make it till 8pm.CrashJetlag gone.
Expose yourself to sunlight
Nothing works. I’ve tried it all, the closest thing is get on local time ASAP when you get there but if your natural circadian cycle is strong -it’s still hard to break out of it.
I can tell you what works for me and my girls traveling from SF to Paris. Sunlight. We arrive in the early afternoon, eat and nap for two hours. Then we take a long walk for 4 – 5 hours around the city and soak up the light. Take a melatonin at 10PM and sleep. I think exposing yourself to sunlight is key.
I fly between SF-Australia and SF-Europe a lot. My routine now:- Try to get a flight that arrives in the morning. It’s easier to stay up all day, get very tired and then sleep.- I don’t nap at the destination. Pretty much that’ll throw me off every time. Walk around as much as you can.- Melatonin on the flight and the first night (hour before the bedtime at destination). I also take sleeping tablets. YMMV. Get advice/prescribed a Doctor and do a dry run at ground level.- Sleeping mask. Ear plugs *and* noise cancelling headphones. Neck Cushion.- Walk a lot. When you arrive, at the airport. Pretty much whenever you can (this is good in general, actually).- If you can, don’t eat the meal on the plane. I often ask for the tray without the meal, so I can just have the salad or whatever. I find plane food throws me off. Also get into the right eating routing when you arrive – breakfast, lunch, dinner of the usual variety and right time.
What I found useful • “stomach is your clock” – however, I stay with outbound zone meal hours, adjust one meal each day, by portion of meal.• Sun – try to land in morning of inbound zone, go for an hour walk in the sun; vitamin D somehow seems to adjust biological clock effectively.On flight, sleep as much as possible, both tie zones to keep immune system working at peak during adjustment.
Have had multiple hardcore recommendations and melamine comes up over and over again.Have decided though that the body is an organism like any other and requires time to adjust.I schedule meetings as close to what my body will easily permit as possible and know where my body’s at as a result.