How To Get Over Jet Lag

Last modified on September 4th, 2013

A Jet Lagged Sea Otter

Anyone who has flown across a few time-zones knows just how inconvenient jet lag can be be. You either arrive in a new destination exhausted, often unable to sleep, or find yourself walking around a new location in the middle the day like a zombie.

A Jet Lagged Sea Otter

A Jet Lagged Sea Otter

Fundamentally jet lag occurs because your body’s internal clock is out of sync with the time in the new location after you arrive. While you can observe jet lag whenever you cross a time zone or two, it’s usually more prevalent when flying between continents.

The worse jet lag I ever had was coming back to Canada from Ireland a few years ago. While normally I just feel a bit groggy for a few days, that trip caused me to feel absolutely crappy for more than a week. I would have the urge to sleep during the day, and spent most of the night tossing and turning.

How To Get Over Jet Lag

There are lots of websites that will tell you various ways to get over jet lag, but I’ve only found a few that work for me. Here are a few tips for how to get over jet lag if you find yourself affected by it after a recent flight.


The body’s internal clock is mostly regulated by the appearance and absence of sunlight. One of the best ways to help speed up the body’s recovery from jet lag is to simply go outside and get lots of sunlight. So whenever you arrive in a new place, try and take a few hours to go outside and walk around to help reset your body’s internal clock.


If you are able to, try and get some exercise as this will tire your body out a bit and help you sleep at night. Sometimes in new cities you can rent a bicycle for a few hours, or possibly you can pull out some running shoes and go for a run. If you’re in a hotel, see if you can use the hotel gym for an hour and try and get some exercise.


I always take some melatonin with me whenever I am travelling. Melatonin is produced naturally in the body, where it acts as both an antioxidant (in fact it is one of the best antioxidants in the body) as well a signal for you to get tired and go to sleep. If you’re finding yourself up late at night due to jet lag and unable to sleep, melatonin will help improve your sleep quality and potentially reduce the length of time it takes to for you to get over jet lag.


The age-old cure to jet lag is simply time – the body can resynchronize its internal clock at a rate of about an hour a day. So if your flight takes you across seven different time zones, it will generally take around a week to get over the affects.

I definitely find that melatonin helps me, as does getting some exercise as well as sunlight, but sometimes it just takes a bit of time.

One response to “How To Get Over Jet Lag”

  1. I get nailed with jet-lag going eastbound, particularly on North/South America to Europe trips. As flights inbound to Europe are generally timed to arrive in the morning, I definitely try and stay awake and get some sunlight if possible. What I try is drop off my luggage where I’m staying (hotel, friends’ place), get a coffee if possible, and then head out for an hour-long walk to get my bearings.

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