I travel a lot for work – and occasionally for relaxation – and I’ve always suffered from terrible jetlag. But, in the last few years, I’ve found a method which works perfectly.
- The week before you travel, wake up an hour earlier each day.
- Monday, wake up at 06:00. Tuesday, 05:00. Wednesday 04:00. Etc.
- Go to bed an hour earlier each day.
- Monday, sleep at 21:00. Tuesday 20:00. Etc.
- Shift your meals back one hour per day as well.
- Monday, breakfast at 06:30, lunch at 12:00, dinner at 18:00. Tuesday, breakfast at 05:30, lunch at 11:00, dinner at 17:00. Etc.
- Once you’re on the plane, try to act as though you’re in your destination timezone.
- This may mean missing some crappy movies, or adequate aeroplane food.
I don’t drink caffeine, so a single cup of coffee helps me stay awake in the mornings when I’m battling the ‘lag. I don’t drink booze on the plane. But I take a melatonin in order to stay asleep.
Why does this work?
It’s easier to force yourself awake than it is to force yourself to sleep. And once you’re up early, you’ll want to fall asleep earlier too.
Your stomach plays an important role in regulating your sleep cycle. Probably. Anyway, getting used to eating earlier will stop you feeling weird and queasy on the trip.
It’s the same thing in reverse. Go to bed an hour later each day. Try to sleep in. Take your meals an hour later each day.
OK, but does it actually work?
Yeah, pretty much. We broke up our journey from London to Australia with a few days in Hong Kong – which has a 6 hour time difference. And it was… fine. Once we got to Australialand we were well adjusted. It wasn’t perfect.
Coming back, we flew direct. Flying west is always worse, I find. But I was able to go into work the day after we landed with no ill effects.
So, yup, I guarantee✱ this will work for you.
✱ Full refund if not entirely satisfied.