This blog post was updated on August 5, 2021.

Jet lag. It’s rough, right?

When you’re traveling, the last thing you want to do is get stuck in a cranky, confused state of sleep-deprived miserableness. You just want to get out there and have fun!

Good luck doing that if your internal clock hasn’t adjusted yet. And we mean that with the MAXIMUM amount of sarcasm.

So, how can you beat jet lag? It’s not too hard. Follow these simple steps whenever you’re traveling across time zone (including to AND from a destination), and you’ll sleep and feel well-rested throughout your travels and even after you get home.

Alter Your Sleep Schedule Before You Fly

If you’re headed east, start waking up and going to bed an hour earlier each day for several days before your departure. If you’re traveling west, make your rising time and bedtime an hour later each night. You’ll gradually ease yourself into the new schedule, and your body won’t be so shocked upon arrival.

Change What You Eat Before You Leave

Before you leave on any cheap round trip flights, you should adjust your meal times to eat them whenever they are at your upcoming destination. This may seem strange to a lot of people because it might mean that you’re eating breakfast while you’re watching the evening news. But what time you eat affects the circadian rhythm of your brain.

Delaying the rhythm causes a similar delay in the body’s “blood sugar rhythm. So if you regulate the meal times, you can also regulate the body’s internal clock. And by timing your meals, you can reset your body’s clock and help you reduce the effects of jet lag before your leave.

Manage Your Exposure to Light

This one is allegedly the most effective and easiest tip to help to beat jet lag. Simply control when you’re exposed to light after you’ve arrived in a new timezone. If you’ve headed east, soak up the sun early in the morning, and retreat into the darkness in the early afternoon. If you’ve traveling west, you do the opposite.

Set Your Watch to the New Time Zone…But Only if It’s Worth It

You should set your watch to your destination’s new time zone as soon as the plane takes off. This will help you to get mentally adjusted to what time it is when you arrive.

But don’t do it any earlier! If you change your watch while you’re at the airport or before you leave home, you might make a mistake about the time and miss your plane.

Although it might not be worth the trouble of resetting your watch if you’re only headed out for a quick trip. If you are only away for a couple of days, consider leaving your watch set to your home time. You conduct yourself accordingly: sticking to the times for your meal and sleep schedule back home while making sure to be aware of the time difference and do the math, so you don’t miss any appointments at your destination (including your return flight!).

RELATED: Turn Your Layover into a Sleepover with These Airport Nap Hacks

Don’t Drink Until You’re Adjusted to the Timezone

It may be tempting to have a cocktail to help you wind down and fall asleep when you have jet lag, but alcohol can actually adversely affect your sleep.

In a 2015 study at the University Of Melbourn looking at how the brain reacted to alcohol during sleep, subjects were sometimes given alcohol before bed, and sometimes they were given a placebo. Their sleep was most disrupted on the nights they were given alcohol.

So, it would be best if you tried to avoid any alcoholic drinks until your body’s internal clock has adjusted to the time zone you’re in.

Take Melatonin Before You Want to Go to Sleep

Melatonin is the hormone that your body releases in darkness. It tells you when to go to sleep. Synthetic melatonin vitamin supplements, which can be purchased over the counter at any drugstore, can help trigger your body’s sleep cycle. If you take 3 to 5 milligrams a half-hour before when you want to go to bed, you’ll give your body’s clock a lot of help.

It’s best to take Melatonin to help you sleep on any long overnight flights, as well as for the first night or two after you arrive at your destination.

Do you have your own steps to beat jet lag to add? Let us know about them in the comments!

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About The Author

Hannah Winsten is a freelance writer and marketing consultant living in New York City. A total travel junkie, Hannah came to CheapOair as a French translator and SEM associate after returning from a stint living abroad in Paris. She’s also working on her first book--you know you want to read it. Find her on Twitter at @HannahRWinsten.