Tackle Jet Lag

jet lag

Jet lag – those awful words! You can’t keep your eyes open long enough to snap that long-awaited vista. The hotel pool has a lovely swim-up bar, but you’d rather curl up in the room and sleep for hours. Most travelers have had at least one instance of this annoying condition while on vacation. Beating jet lag will give you back valuable time to enjoy your time away. Jet lag is a crafty thief. The groggy, sleepy, grumpy, not being able to concentrate on anything more than laying your head down on a pillow feeling steals away precious vacation and travel time.

What you want to do is go out and see the sights of the new place where you’ve just arrived. Instead, your body is telling you in no uncertain terms that you must waste hours sleeping until your body’s inner clock rights itself.

Sometimes jet lag presents itself during the night as insomnia. Other daytime symptoms include poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general irritability.

The medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis. But what causes this combination of unpleasant feelings and disorientation? When your body moves faster than your inner clock can keep up – such as flying over several time zones – jet lag can occur. It’s your body’s way of resetting itself to your new surroundings. Typically jet lag is worse when flying from west to east, but for some people it can occur whenever multiple time zones are crossed.

We all agree it’s something we’d rather not deal with, so what can we do to avoid it? As the Travel Pharmacist, I’m often asked how to avoid jet lag or how to tackle it completely once you’ve arrived.

Here are a few tips…


1. Opt for the red-eye. If possible, schedule your flight so you’re sleeping when your body feels like it should be sleeping. Overnight flights allow more time for the body’s circadian rhythms to adapt.

2. Stay hydrated. Pressurized airplane cabins have the ability to drastically dehydrate the body and when you’re dehydrated, you don’t feel well. Keep sipping water throughout the flight.

3. Start a few days before the trip. If you’re going to be undergoing a long haul flight, it often helps to get your body used to the time zone changes ahead of time. Plan meals and bedtimes around the new time zone. This works especially well for young children who might not understand why they feel so bad after a long plane ride.

4. Avoid caffeine. While it’s tempting to keep the coffee supply coming, caffeine can be both dehydrating and disrupt normal sleep patterns.

5. Sleep on the plane. For this one, some people can and some people can’t. For those that can’t, ask your doctor about a prescription short acting sleep aid to get your body enough rest.

6. Avoid alcohol. Another major actor for dehydration and ruining sleep rhythms.

7. Set your watch to destination time and pretend you’re already there. This works very well for most people to decrease jet lag symptoms. As soon as you’ve on the plane, your watch and your mind are working together to put you in the new time zone.

But what if you’re already suffering from jet lag – is there any hope for relief? Yes!


1. Try over-the-counter melatonin. Melatonin is naturally secreted in our bodies and helps regulate our circadian rhythms so that we sleep at night. The suggested dose is 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour or two before bedtime at your destination. Then give yourself at least 9-10 hours to rest completely. You may wake earlier, but your body will have gotten the rest it needs.

2. Sunshine. Get outside in the sun as much as possible. Normal daylight will stimulate the body to produce chemicals you need for clearer brain function.

3. Take off your shoes and try earthing. While there isn’t a great deal of science to back this one up, many travelers find that putting one’s bare feet on the ground at your destination will stop jet lag in its’ tracks. It should be the actual ground outside and not a floor, and walking around for a few minutes wiggling your toes in the grass brings even more relief. I haven’t actually tried this one, but imagine it would be lots of fun.

4. Because a big part of jet lag is attributed to the body’s dehydration, sipping an oral re-hydration mixture may be the answer. Chock full of body-soothing electrolytes and salts, a product like RecoverORS can help put you back to normal. I also like RecoverORS to treat traveler’s diarrhea, heat exhaustion, sea sickness, and food poisoning. Overall, it’s a great travel health product to have around.

5. Coffee! The old standby that gets us through so many sleepy afternoons back home may also be helpful for combating daytime jet lag symptoms. The caffeine acts as a stimulant to kick the brain into full-functioning gear. Avoid too much caffeine after 3pm, as it may make it harder to sleep in the evening.

Here’s to Happy, Healthy Travels!


Lisa Chavis, RPh ~ The Travel Pharmacist

As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

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jet lag


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Cruise Health: Avoiding Norovirus – The Travel Pharmacist

Thinking of going on a cruise? I’m sure you’ve heard all of the horror stories. The dreaded Norovirus Illness – scourge of cruise ship passengers all around the world! Travelers are afraid – and with good reason. Who wants to waste precious (and costly) vacation time feeling as though you’d rather die than face the buffet line? Cruise ship cabins come with many amenities, but spending time getting intimately acquainted with the bathroom isn’t anyone’s idea of a good vacation. Continue reading “Cruise Health: Avoiding Norovirus – The Travel Pharmacist”

Health Tips Weekly Roundup #365Health


It was a busy week on The Travel Pharmacist’s Facebook Page! Our Health Tips included everything from how to get a better nights’ sleep to the importance of keeping the head warm to avoid sinus headaches. I think my favorite was learning it’s really my smartphone that’s to blame for those extra pounds from late night snacking!

Here is the weekly roundup for your #365Health…

Continue reading “Health Tips Weekly Roundup #365Health”

Health Tips Weekly Update #365Health

On January 1st, The Travel Pharmacist Facebook Page started a new resolution. We decided to provide an informative health and wellness tip every single day of 2015. #365Health

We’re covering everything from diet and exercise to herbal, OTC, and prescription remedies – and, of course – the vacation and “exploring the world” health tips you’d expect from The TRAVEL Pharmacist.

Here is a recap of last week’s offerings…

Saturday –


Avoid travel headaches – literally! Changes in cabin pressure can cause the sinus cavities to swell shut, causing headache pain and head discomfort. To prevent this particular travel headache, try taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) 30 minutes before you take off. Happy Travels!

Sunday –


A glass of wine is equivalent to one hour in the gym. Best news ever, LOL! Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are equivalent to those that we get from exercise. Everything in moderation, of course!

Monday –


Got the Monday Blues? Grab an orange or a tangerine! Citrus fruits have the ability to raise levels of chemicals in the brain that affect your mood. And they pack a big dose of natural vitamin C. Orange you glad you read this today? 🙂

Tuesday –

Diet stalled?

Is your diet stalled? Try this simple trick. Switch out your dinner plates for salad plates and fill ’em up. The visual illusion tells our brain that we’re full more quickly, saving 40% extra calories from a typical meal!

Wednesday –

Naps are nice

Naps are nice! Nappers know that taking a short rest can refresh the mind and body. Health benefits of naps also include reduced stress levels, memory improvement, increased alertness and boosts of creativity. Cats know what’s good for them!

Thursday –

Cool Mist humidifier

Misty morning promote better sleep. At night when you’re sleeping with the heat on, microscopic irritants can be a nuisance – drying nasal passages and causing a scratchy throat. A cool-mist humidifier gives back soothing moisture and allows for deeper sleep.

Friday –

The power of the pen

The power of the pen (or pencil)! It’s a good idea to always bring your own pen to sign in at the doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. Lots of sick people are coming through and you don’t want to pick up their icky germs. For the same reason, you should also avoid flipping through the magazines in the waiting room – though that’s a tough one for me.

Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Come visit our Facebook Page every morning for your dose of good health or enjoy the Health Tips #365Health recap here on Fridays.

What was YOUR favorite health tip this week?