There are a few specific steps you can take to reduce the effects of jet lag, but many of the remedies are more general in nature. You’ll find that a combination of specific and general will probably give you the best results. One of the best things you can do in anticipation of suffering jet lag is plan carefully. Starting well ahead of time, make note of the time your flight will leave and the time you flight will arrive, making the adjustment for differences in time zones.
For example, if you are leaving a location in the United States at 8 a.m. you should start to think about your departure time in terms of the location where you will land. Suppose you are going to the U.K. and the time difference is five hours. Think of your departing flight as taking off at 1 p.m. It may help to begin mentally adjusting for this time difference a few days ahead of time, if possible. Set your watch for this time too.
This will also help you choose your flights and arrange to land at a specific time of day that will be easier to adjust to. This may mean leaving at a slightly inconvenient time but you may be glad you made this small sacrifice when you land at your destination. If sleeping on a plane is not a problem for you, make sure you take this into account when planning departure and arrival times.
Some advice on preventing or reducing jet lag emphasizes drinking non-alcoholic beverages during the flight. Drink water or non-caffeinated beverages so that you are not suffering from effects of alcohol when you land. You’ll be more alert no matter what time you arrive. When you touch down, start living according to local time immediately, even if you have to stay awake for a few hours longer than you want to.
Make sure you get out and move around when you arrive. Get some sunshine on your face and shoulders, take a walk or do some light shopping. This will help you adjust to local time. It may help to take melatonin before you anticipate going to sleep. This might help, especially if you are traveling during your normal “night” hours. Remember, this must be adjusted to the schedule in the destination country. You don’t want to plan for falling asleep when you arrive unless you are going to be there late in the evening or in the middle of the night.
Finally, try to move around the plane and stay alert, if you can’t sleep. Don’t sit in an uncomfortable position and become stressed. You will only be adding to your feeling of exhaustion and “fogginess.” This is exactly what you don’t want. The goal is to be rested and awake if you arrive early in the day or to be comfortably sleepy if you arrive at night. Plan carefully and use medication/alcohol sparingly, if at all.