Surviving Jet Lag

With my 25-hour flight from Sydney back to London fast approaching, my mind is wandering to the topic of jet lag–or desynchronosis, to use the medical term.

The most often suggested remedies for jet lag (where recovery times are generally said to be 1 day per eastward time zone or 1 day per 1.5 westward time zones) are fasting for 11-16 hours before the flight or wearing sunglasses (the latter is what the British Airways jet lag calculator is based on).

Not particularly a fan of these methods, I concur with Bryan Caplan’s advice as he frames jet lag (and infant night feedings) in terms of fixed costs:

My alternative: Do not sleep on the plane.  At all.  When you arrive, do not sleep – at all – until a locally normal bedtime.  Pay the fixed cost without cheating.  When you wake up eight to ten hours later, you will be refreshed and in sync with your new time zone.  In exchange for less than a day of sleep deprivation, you will feel fine for the rest of your trip.

This technique has served me well for many years.



3 responses to “Surviving Jet Lag”

  1. I try my best to not sleep on planes and go to sleep at the local “bedtime” too. It works great for me.

  2. To me, instead of forgoing sleep and accepting all of the downside that entails, I’d rather sleep whenever I’m tired, and then take Melatonin again at the local bedtime.

  3. Update: The above technique (forgoing sleep on the plane, sleeping at a locally-normal time once at the destination) worked perfectly for me.

    The total journey time from Kings Cross, Sydney to Cardiff, UK was 34 hours (door-to-door). I stayed awake for an extra 7 hours once at home and felt perfect the next day… when I was working!