Jet Lag

Jet lag is such a challenge for me.

We got back from Japan four days ago and I was doing great.

I figured that I had it beat this time.

Then last night at 2am, I woke up and I was wide awake.

We’ve got a series of meetings today that I need to be coherent in.

So I took a half a pill and got back to sleep by 3am and slept until almost 8am.

The good news is I am rested.

The bad news is I don’t have this thing beat like I thought I did.

I have tried a bunch of things to manage jet lag over the years, many of them recommended by folks here at AVC in reaction to a post about this I did a few years ago.

And they have all worked, to a degree.

But, I think the truth is, at least for me, that it takes me about a week to get truly back to normal after a long trip to Asia.

And as much as I thought I could shorten that timetable, I don’t think I can.

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    I once did a London <—> San Francisco round trip in 30 hours. Around 22 hours in the hour for a single meeting. Battered me for days afterwards. I don’t think you can beat it. Just need to try and mitigate the suffering somehow.That’s why I’ve always been impressed with the stamina of some of the US’s globe-trotting politicians. They’re schedules are jam packed day after day across endless time zones with little downtime. The tours Obama would do, enough to knockout an army.

  2. kenberger

    Rule of thumb is about a day per hour’s time diff.So for me (when i lived in NYC): about 12 days to recover after Asia, 6 after Europe, is about always spot on (you seem to be quite ahead of this)Melatonin, at least in any form i’ve seen, does not seem to be powerful enough to do anything.

  3. jason wright

    Darwin didn’t have a chapter on this’s unnaturally natural. time is the remedy.

  4. iggyfanlo

    I don’t know if this works for anyone elseand it’s probably old news, but….Jet lag was always a nightmare for me until I discovered Ambien… take one immediately before going to bed on landing end (each way) and I’m back on track..

    1. fredwilson

      That’s the Gotham Gal’s weapon of choice. I like something a bit milder

      1. kenberger

        she recently told me that and also xanax. is that your “something”?I’m wondering what’s the diff?

        1. LE

          Non medically ambien is specifically a sleeping pill. Xanax is more to reduce anxiety. Nyquil also works pretty well fyi in a pinch.I don’t take either I think it’s a bad habit and needs to be avoided unless there is some compelling reason or panic onset (such as what Fred described when he was traveling years ago.) I think you have to cut back on whatever is causing you to have to take the pill in the first place. Not everyone can do this but most people can actually.

      2. David Gobel

        Get yourself a pulse oximeter (cheap on amazon) and measure your oxygen delivery to your finger on the ground, and then at cabin altitude. On average you will experience a 5 point reduction at altitude (cabin altitude is between 8/9,000 ft. If your o2 level is 92 or less, you will experience symptoms of hypoxia from which you have to recover. After doing this research for myself I discovered my O2 sat was 88-91 at altitude (at 88 they will give you 02 in a hospital). Also, sometimes to “help” (make) people sleep, the cabin temp will be increased up to 10 degrees above the FDA mandated max of 75 degrees. Further, cabin humidity is typically 16% when we are best at 50% relative humidity. So…I got a prescription from my Dr. for an Inogen oxygen concentrator, I dress in layers (eg pants with zippered leg so I can choose long pants or shorts in real time) to beat the heat, and drink only water during my flights. These items, especially the O2 (2 liters per min) has made an enormous positive difference for me.

        1. LE

          So are you saying that by getting your 02 up on the plane it will reduce jet lag? Explain how that impacts what happens 4 days later I am not seeing it. [1][1] I have one of those pulse oximeters.

          1. David Gobel

            Adding o2 provides an immediate positive preventative impact. My sense is that much (not all) of what we describe as jet lag is really extended oxygen deprivation, and humidity lower than the sahara desert. Be deprived of sufficient O2 for 10 hours and bad things happen…immediately and continue for days after.I have not done this test personally, but I wonder what others on this board have experienced doing >6 hour North/South trips? Any jet lag experienced in that situation?

          2. LE

            Actually, not that I have a need (I don’t) but I think this is an excellent idea if you are correct and worth testing. Note that this company does rentals and will even ‘sheister’ the prescription so you don’t have to contact your doctor:

          3. David Gobel

            I should have been more clear. I have an Inogen o2 concentrator that I’ve been using for a year to excellent effect. I should have said that I have not been able to test it going north/south which would further test the time zone’s actual influence vs o2/h2o deprivation’s influence

      3. Richard

        Try the sublingual form of zoplidem tartrate 3.5 mg. It is designed to be taken if you wake up in the middle of the night (with 3-4 hrs of sleep time remaining).

    2. PhilipSugar

      Just please do not mix with alcohol on the plane. I have helped flight attendants get three different people back in their seats. My business partner two.

  5. kenberger

    Xanax and ambien seem to be the 2 pills of choice.Any diff between them?Anyone know of anything better?

  6. Greg H

    Melatonin supplements work wonders for me, taken for the first 3 nights about 30 minutes before bed. It drastically shortens the adjustment period, and helps me get a restful night sleep almost immediately.One thing to note, I do not think it should be taken as a normal sleep aid; only when adjusting to time zone changes.

  7. Bala

    You should try advice from Julien Ranger the founder and chairman of it worked for me traveling to India and back

  8. Tom Labus

    It catches up with you coming back no matter what you do. Exercise is the one thing that helps a bit. Full moon too!!

    1. Mac

      “Full moon” would have been my second guess.

  9. Alex Malorodov

    Meditation has helped me quite a bit with jetlag. I try to do 20 mins every 3-4 hours of the flight (and twice during regular days for 15-20 mins) and have noticed my jetlag diminish to just a couple of days after a long flight.

  10. Mac

    Consider not visiting SakeToMe next trip.

  11. JimHirshfield

    The foolproof works-every-time solution to jetlag that you won’t believe because it’s so obvious: Stay off airplanes and Skype.

    1. jason wright

      i wonder if planes flying backwards would solve the problem?

  12. Timothy Post

    #ImwithHowardLindzon Ambien : )

  13. ScottFauver

    I commuted to London weekly for 2 years (leave Sunday night, return Thursday night). Pills never worked. Best “natural way” for me was to put a book on tape (in one ear) and set it for 15-20 minutes. I’d wake up 4-5 times a night, but the book would keep my mind from wandering, I’d fall back asleep very quickly and get the necessary 6 hours of sleep.

  14. bogorad

    My secret weapon: no food for 12 (even better ~16) hours prior to breakfast in destination timezone. E.g.:NYC -> Europe is usually red-eye, so you have a copious lunch in NYC – and then nothing (including alcohol) until the breakfast on board.LA -> Europe leaves earlier in the day, so – same but no food after full late breakfast in LA.Also 1/2 tablet of xanax makes it a ‘teleport’-type of a journey.Flying in the other direction is usually easier, but the same rule applies: no food for 16 hours prior to breakfast in the destination timezone.The important bit is to have nothing your liver has to work on. That includes alcohol and anything except water.…I read about it years ago, tried it, and never had a problem ever since.

    1. sachmo

      I’ve recently adopted a ’16:8′ diet and found that a huge unexpected side effect is that I sleep much better. There is something to this.

      1. bogorad

        Tried it – completely decimates your social life 🙂

  15. John Pepper

    Bikram Yoga 90 minutes soon after arriving any destination will have you laughing at memories of jet lag.

  16. Pointsandfigures

    Asia worse than Europe. That’s for sure. Friends have told me on the way back from Asia to do a couple of nights in Europe to ease into it.

  17. Ludwig

    Each hour time difference takes 1 day to accommodate, that’s what I learned. For me, traveling east is more challenging than traveling west.

  18. PhilipSugar

    This is easy to say but no do, having done 250k for so many years, if you can get your mind not to worry about it at 2am you will be fine. If you can convince yourself that just resting in a dark room on a bed and thinking about something relaxing like a house project or a kickstarter project, is as good a sleep you will be ok.Get out the computer worry about the meeting, you are screwed.As for the pills, I never take them mainly because when I first starting traveling for Mitsubishi Company the Japanese took them like candy. We had a doctor and he’d just hand them out.The pill was Haldane. Then the Wall Street Journal did an article on the side effects. I still remember being called in a meeting room asked to read the article and then questioned on what certain terms meant.

    1. Ronnie Rendel


    2. LE

      Another hack is to get out of bed and do something that you hate doing. Like cleaning up somewhere or whatever you typically avoid. Sleeping will quickly seem very very attractive.

  19. SpeedNY

    Low blood sugar levels can also be one of the reasons for the midnight wake up jolt. There’s ton’s of research, but a spoonful of raw honey right before bedtime does the trick.https://www.mindbodygreen.c

  20. William Mougayar

    Every person is different. I’m not sure that what works for some necessarily works for others. Hope you find something that works aside from waiting 4-5 days to recover!

  21. Victor Izmaylov

    Fred -Next time, try intensive exercise to quickly change your internal clock to the new time zone.I also HATE jet leg, but on a recent trip to Paris it was a non-issue. I got 25K-35K steps a day there and was always tired to go to bed at a reasonable time. Ditto on the way back.The other thing most people don’t realize is that lying down horizontal is almost as good as sleep. So if you do wake up at 2am, just stay in bed until as long as possible and you will have a productive day. Alternatively, lie down for 15 minutes in the middle of the day (or when you get home). Just being horizontal will give you ~10X energy return for time invested! 🙂

  22. marvinavilez

    I SWEAR by the Dreamliner but don’t take it from me (I do live in both England and NYC with going to SF every month) Take a read at this: https://www.godsavethepoint

    1. David Gobel

      a very comfortable craft…however, I tested/measured two trips on Lufthansa 787s, and disappointingly, the cabin altitude was above 8,000 ft (typical for other aircraft) and the cabin humidity was 16-19% thus no benefits delivered. I’m sure the aircraft can deliver the benefits, but they were not there on these flights. What airline did you fly on?

      1. marvinavilez

        I have been a loyal Delta member for years (they don’t have the Dreamliner) but I had to do a simple test. I flew the overnight 787 on Norwegian….I could clearly tell the difference….but I really like that you are using metrics (I was trained in Metrology) so I will take your measurements and compare them to my next trip…but I need to buy a meter….so hopefully I can get one before my return on Nov 2nd.

  23. Ana Milicevic

    I always write off Day 3 when going to or returning from a 10+ hr timezone difference. That seems to be the day when everything breaks down in spite of all your usual tried & true methods and I find it easier to simply accept that as a reality, plan for it, and not beat myself up too hard about it. Of course, I had to learn that the extremely hard way when I practically fell asleep on stage during a flyaway client event.That said, I’m intrigued by light therapy for jet lag mitigation so if anyone has good (or bad) experiences with this do let me know.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Did not experience this “Day 3” phenomenon until the return trip. Came as a surprise. Will be prepared next time. Know nothing about light therapy but now can look into this. Thanks for the tip.

  24. leapy

    I used to do repeat circuits of New York, Toronto, LA, Tokyo and back to base in London.Soon learned to only drink water on any flight and sleep/ rest as much as possible. The only way I found to accelerate jet lag was to take one day off to rest on my return home. Just lying in bed without any work distraction and nodding off whenever my body needed it.

  25. OurielOhayon

    learn to love the JL

  26. jason wright

    i wonder if AR/ VR tech will help to provide a solution to this problem in some clever way?

  27. LE

    Knowing only what I read here, it sounds like you are ignoring anxiety as the primary cause or some other factor (what you ate that night or coffee earlier in the day with the impact of jet lag.If you were doing so well and had thought you beat it, then it seems like you did de facto. Waking up was unrelated to the jet lag although it may have been a minor contributing factor.Would be curious what other frequent travelers think (Phil Sugar) etc.In particular why would you do fine for 3 or 4 days but then get out of rhythm later? What am I missing?

  28. LE

    We’ve got a series of meetings today that I need to be coherent in.The other thing is that you simply pull rank and avoid scheduling any important meetings for X week(s) after return from a trip. Sure you will say ‘no I can’t do that’. But at a certain point you will have to make a choice between health and business. You choose health it’s simple. That ranks over everything including family.I will tell you this. If I am leaving for a trip I won’t attend (as only one example) family functions the day or two before. I like to keep a clean slate so I can handle any emergencies and reduce any and all stress prior to leaving. [1][1] My ex wife otoh was a total mess and the exact opposite. She is the type that would hold a big Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people when she had to leave the very next morning on a early flight. That is because she was addicted to socializing. I would call it her ‘crack den’. And as you know an addict goes by different rules. The suffering afterwords rarely prevents the impacting behavior.

  29. Laura Yecies

    What I find interesting here is the thought or expectation that this would be avoidable – mixup up our bodies circadian rhythms with jet travel and there will be some lack of sleep consequences.

  30. Mickey Beyer-Clausen

    There are so many myths and misconceptions about jet lag… But there is a solution that actually tackles the underlying cause of jet lag: Timeshifter ( Read about the jet lag science here: https://www.timeshifter.comhttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

  31. awaldstein

    I agree with @wmoug:disqus that this is personal thing and what works for one doesn’t work for others.For me it’s all about being crazy fit, sleeping on demand and use of both sublingual liposomal CBD on both sides of the trip and extreme hydration which I use soluble Molecular Hydrogen in water.

  32. Pete Griffiths

    “half a pill”??

  33. Kelly Brough

    The timing of this post is perfect. I normally manage jet lag pretty well (lucky since I live in Australia and everywhere is far away), but have dragged this week after a two week trip. It happens to all of us sometimes, but I prefer it not take six nights to recover!

  34. Dan M

    When you arrive, go outside and stay in the sun as much and often as possible that day. Helps adjust your circadian rythm (recalibrate your “ internal clock “).DM

    1. jason wright

      “sun snack” – what’s that?

  35. Kent Karlsen

    I don’t do drugs for sleeping, never. has an interesting AI based music player for focus, relax/meditation and sleep. I have used it for a few months to focus when I work. It’s great! Have not tried it yet for sleep, maybe it could help you to sleep without drugs?

  36. Matt Zagaja

    Taking a red eye to London Friday night. Taking all these notes. Still recovering from my weekend in Charlotte last weekend, and that was in the same time zone. I always tell people I do not particularly enjoy travel, but I do it because the things I do at the destination are important or valuable.

  37. Donna Brewington White

    For a recent trip to Europe which was my first overseas travel in a while, I recalled the AVC advice from a few years back. Glad for the refresher course and new input this post elicits. (Amazing the things I learn here.)Minimal jet lag upon arrival in London so I thought I had it beat. As a result, the jet lag I experienced upon returning was a shock. I wish I had been prepared for the Day 3 hit that @aexm:disqus mentioned. This was most surprising part.

  38. Tommaso Trionfi

    Fred, sleeping is a 3 hour cycle. 1.30 down cycle, 1:30 up cycle. Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to study this, he used to sleep 15 minutes every 3 hours. To beat your jet Lag you need to go to sleep on a down cycle, and wake up on a up cycle. As close to the bottom or the top respectively. How do you know your 3 hour cycle, every time you feel tired mark the time, it’s probably the bottom of the cycle. You will soon find your 3 hour cycles, what’s important here for your cycle is that you eat as much as possible on regular intervals. I do not use drugs, but I will make sure i am in a very dark room when I sleep and take sunlight when I am up. Last for me Melatonin works beautifully. Hope it helps.

  39. ThatAdamGuy

    Hi Fred,I used to do a ton of international travel and found that the combination of three things resulted in me having only mild fatigue for a day or so and no real jetlag:1) At least mildly timeshift schedule (by a few hours) prior to the flights.2) Starve the body for 8-16 hours prior to breakfast-time (based on arrival timezone). <–MOST POWERFUL PART! Food on planes is typically crappy anyway, so this is no real loss :-).3) Use a blue light and/or get natural sunlight for 15-30 minutes for each of the first two days of arrival (at destination and back home).

  40. trog

    A colleague recommended this process to reduce jet lag a while back: . I am in the middle of my first opportunity to try it in a (short, 6 day) trip to the USA from Australia. Just had night #3 where I slept the whole night so I’m strongly encouraged so far. It helps massively that while I’m here I can maintain whatever sleep schedule I want – no early/late meetings. So I’m hoping going back will not be too painful as well.