Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: How can I deal with jet lag?

Q. I often fly on business from Chicago to Europe. Do you have any tips for managing jet lag?

A. Jet lag is common when flying long distance across several time zones. For every time zone you cross, it takes about a day for your body to adjust. There is no proven solution for jet lag, but you may be able to minimize its effects.

Try adjusting to the change in time zone before you leave by gradually moving your mealtimes and bedtime closer to the schedule of your destination. Eat a light meal before you take off. While you are flying, hydrate with water or juice throughout the flight and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can be dehydrating. Dehydration worsens the symptoms of jet lag. When you arrive at your destination, adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible. Stay awake through the day and don't nap. Set your clock to local time and try to eat, sleep, and exercise (if that is your routine) at local times.

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