For me, and for a lot of people I know, few things are as exciting as international travel. The sights and sounds and tastes of a new land all combine to create memories that last a lifetime.

But for many people, there is a downside to long flights that cross multiple time zones.

According to the American Sleep Association, nearly 93% of all travelers will experience jet lag at some point. It’s generally accepted that the body will take one full day per time zone crossed to fully recover and adjust to the changes. 

Jet lag is, simply, a breakdown in your body’s circadian rhythm that’s caused by rapid travel through multiple time zones. People get jet lag when travel disrupts their circadian rhythms.

A study by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, says that as you pass through different time zones, your biological clocks will be different from the local time. Your biological clocks will reset, but this often takes a few days.

The only way to truly adjust in 24 hours or less is to prepare before you go. That preparation should begin a few days before your trip begins. Here are some key elements of that preparation:

Figure out what time zone you’ll be in at your final destination.

A few days before your trip, start going to bed later and getting up earlier. This will help your body better begin to adjust to with the new time zone you’ll be entering.

Reset your watch.

As soon as you get on the plane reset your watch to the new time zone at your destination.

Plan ahead when picking your flight.

Pick a flight that lands at your destination in the early evening. Then stay awake until at least 10 p.m. local time. Set your alarm for your regular wake up time, but only that time in the new time zone.


Stay hydrated.

Drink lots of water before, during and after your flight. Dehydration can contribute to jet lag.

Have a plan for the new time zone.

Don’t eat heavy meals or take part in vigorous exercise right away. Get on the local mealtime schedule as quickly as possible. Get outside. Hanging around indoors can actually make your jet lag worse. So get into the sunlight! The sun can speed up the process of getting your circadian rhythms back on track in the new time zone.

Remember, the effects or symptoms of jet lag generally last only a few days.