Avoiding Jet Lag

The resurgence of travel will bring questions about jet lag. Here’s the latest from the experts at Prescriber’s Letter for those on trips of three or more days across several time zones.

Go to bed and wake up 1 hour earlier for a few days prior to eastward travel or go to bed and wake up 1 hour later if heading west.

On the plane, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Upon arrival, follow “local time” for sleep and meals and get daytime sun exposure—morning light when traveling east or evening light if traveling west.

There’s no good evidence for using apps (Entrain, Timeshifter, etc) that give sleep, mealtime, and light exposure adjustments based on travel details. But some people swear by them.

It’s okay to consider caffeine to reduce daytime sleepiness but it can disrupt nighttime sleep.

If you want to try a supplement for jet lag symptoms, melatonin may be worth a shot. Take up to 5 mg at the desired bedtime for a few nights after arriving.

Combination supplements promoted for jet lag (Jet Lag Rx, No-Jet-Lag, etc) contain a mixed bag of ingredients (arnica, chamomile, magnesium, etc) and most are homeopathic. They lack good evidence but aren’t likely to harm.

Don’t take prescription sleep medications like Ambien or OTC sleep meds like Benadryl. Evidence of efficacy for jet lag is limited, and they may worsen next-day drowsiness and cognition.

Also, don’t take prescription medications like armodafinil or modafinil. They may keep you awake a little longer when taken for three mornings after eastward travel but can lead to headaches, nausea, and diarrhea.


© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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