Jet Lag and You: What's New, What Works, and Good Sleep Tips for All Passengers

Some wear their jet lag as a badge of honor – it does, after all, scream “person-with-interesting-job” or at least, person with money.

But jet lag isn’t really amusing: it can cause some of its victims to become disoriented and desperately fatigued (there’s a reason why sleep deprivation has been used as a torture technique through the ages).

Jet Lag – Feasting, Fasting and Cherries

Is “curing” jet lag possible? Hard to say, but there are tons of products out there that claim to ease its symptoms: the Anti-Jet-Lag diet (which includes “alternate days of moderate feasting and fasting”); homeopathic jet lag remedies in pill form; eating cherries (brought to you by, surprise, the Cherry Marketing Institute and its cheery-sounding website,

Jet Lag – There’s an App for That

And these being modern times, of course there are apps for jet lag.

In fact, Virgin Atlantic has just introduced two “essential” apps for globetrotters: the Jet Lag Fighter app which “enables passengers to train their bodies to adjust to the new time zone” and the Virgin Atlantic Flight Tracker app which allows fliers to track flights and even set alerts so you know when your aircraft lands (and if that seems sort of obvious, then you never fell asleep on a flight and woke up all alone on an empty plane).

Jet Lag – Tried and Somewhat True Methods

What is most effective against jet lag? Depends on the individual; all of the stuff on this page may work for some, and none of it may work for others.

However, according to numerous medical authorities – and a lot of what you’re about to read about jet lag and passengers comes from experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – there are some things that work more often than not.

Here are several suggestions:

Before Departure

  • Stay in shape – or get in shape as the case may be: eat well, exercise and get a lot of rest
  • Book a stopover flight – there are some relatively cheap flights to Europe, but deals are hard to find so it might not be financially possible to break up your trip – but if you can, do so and rest between flights
  • Change sleeping habits – this takes a lot of discipline and flexibility, but try to slowly move your sleeping hours closer to your destination’s time zone as departure day nears

On the Plane

At Your Destination

  • Don’t isolate yourself – hang out with people, join the daily rhythms of life, and get out in the sun
  • Make your hotel a home – pictures from home, a favorite scented candle, dark blinds and a thermostat that’s not too hot or too cold will make sleeping easier for air travelers

How Old You Are Can Make a Big Difference

Surprisingly, the CDC says “Older individuals tend to experience fewer jet lag symptoms than those who are younger” but they don’t say precisely how old is “older” or what exactly “younger” means.

But this we know: youth helps. Ask any college kid back from a summer in Europe or a Study Abroad program. Maybe they did experience jet lag – but do you think they noticed? And if they did – you think they cared?


Published: June 8, 2010