Tried and true tricks for getting over jet lag

December 27, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC
A man sleeping in an airport terminal, as so many of us have attempted to do while making connecting flights.
Getty Images

Even seasoned travelers frequently suffer the most common problem after a long flight: jet lag. Much like a hangover, there is no precise cure for this ailment. But frequent fliers often pick up a few tricks over the years to recover from the worst of it quickly in order to get on to the next.

Here, from the editorial staff of Fortune, is a roundup of the best tips and tricks for going the distance. (But if you suffer from serious woes after traveling, check with a medical professional first about what might work best for you.)

After checking into my hotel, I go for a run. Exercise always helps me adjust to the new time zone, reenergize, and it feels good to get moving after sitting on a plane for hours on end. —Rachel King, editor

I love jet lag going from London back to North America; I’m thrilled that it turns me into the morning person I wish I was naturally. Going back the other way is the real challenge. I book transatlantic flights from North America to Europe as late in the evening as possible, take eye masks and a water bottle, and try not to eat on the plane—I find it’s better to eat right before you get on, and then have a snack and a coffee when you get off the plane. Once you’ve arrived, keep moving for as long as you can the first day, take it as easy as you can for the first couple days, and be realistic: You’re not going to sightsee or work straight off a red-eye unless you want to make yourself sick. (It WILL catch up with you.) —Katherine Dunn, associate editor

One: Avoid alcohol; stay hydrated. Your body will thank you. Two: Get sun. Exposure to daylight in a new time zone can help reset your circadian rhythm. —Robert Hackett, senior writer

On a travel day to Europe, I get up at 4 a.m. Eastern Time, go run for 90 minutes, and then go to work for the day to ensure I will be dead tired by 8 p.m. on my flight to Europe after they’ve served dinner—always take a flight leaving at no later than 7:00 p.m.—and snooze for most of the flight. That way I get four to five hours of sleep by the time it’s morning at my destination, enough to power through that first day in Europe without needing a nap, which would only prolong the jet lag. —Phil Wahba, senior writer

If you’re traveling east (and for leisure) I find it’s actually beneficial to have a big night out right when you arrive. I realize that this is very counterintuitive, but it’s a good way to reset your internal clock. I was a mess in Japan; I’d get cranky at 4 p.m. each day until my friend and I had an evening that ended in late-night karaoke and magically awoke at a normal (not crack of dawn) hour the next morning! —Nicole Goodkind, politics writer

I’ve read over and over that the only way to ameliorate jet lag is to get your body clock on the clock of where you are as quickly as possible. I keep a tiny amount of Ambien next to my bed when I travel abroad, and if I wake up before 4:00 a.m. or so, I take it so I can force myself back to sleep until something closer to morning. I also try to go running outside in the daylight when I arrive. It just plain makes me feel good, and I feel like the sunshine hammers home to my body what time it is supposed to be. —Adam Lashinsky, executive editor

Walk, walk, walk. Wherever I go, I try to land when there’s daylight and go for a walk as soon as possible, and for as long as possible, to maximize my body’s exposure to sunlight. The last thing I want to do is spend ANY amount of time in my hotel room, because inevitably I will gravitate toward taking a nap. And we all know how that goes. Of course, if I’m traveling with my kids, this all goes out the door. The best advice I can give for getting over jet lag with kids is to have very, very low expectations. They always adjust the day before you leave to come back home. —Michal Lev-Ram, senior writer

When it comes to work travel or jet lag in general, I always give myself a minimum of 20 minutes of no-screen time. I put my phone away, disable my Apple Watch notifications, and take a minute to actively meditate or stroll within a few blocks of my hotel. This always gets me to slow down, be present, and set myself up for my new setting. There have been too many times when my head is buried in my phone, answering texts, scrubbing through e-mails. With 20 minutes or more of disconnection from tech, I am reset. —Devin Hance, video producer

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—Inside New York City’s Chinese restaurant crisis
—5 things Beats president Luke Wood always packs when traveling
—Colorado State University launches cannabis degree program
—How to scale zen luxury, according to Robert De Niro
—WATCH: Greenwich Village’s coziest new champagne bar

Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.