Jet lag


Jet lag
Jet lag

Jet lag is when your normal sleep pattern is disturbed after a long flight. Symptoms usually improve within a few days as your body adjusts to the new time zone.

Ways to reduce jet lag

Jet lag can't be prevented, but there are things you can do to reduce its effects

Get plenty of rest before you travel. You could start going to bed and getting up earlier or later than usual (more like the time zone of the place you're travelling to).

During your flight


  • drink plenty of water
  • keep active by stretching and regularly waling around the cabin
  • try to sleep if it's night time at your destination
  • use an eye mask and earplugs if they help you sleep


  • do not drink too much caffeine or alcohol - they can make jet lag worse

After you arrive


  • change your sleep schedule to the new time zone as quickly as possible
  • set an alarm to avoid oversleeping in the morning
  • go outside during the day - natural light will help your body clock adjust


  • do not sleep during the day – only sleep at night time

Short trips

If your trip is short (2 to 3 days), you could try not changing your eating and sleeping times to the new time zone, to avoid needing to change your schedule again when you get back.

There's no treatment for jet lag

Medicines aren't usually needed for jet lag.

Jet lag often improve after a few days as your body clock adjusts to the new time zone.

Sleeping tablets may be helpful if you're having problems sleeping (insomnia). They can be addictive so should only be used for a short time and if symptoms are severe.

Melatonin is a chemical released by the body in the evening to let your brain know it's time to sleep.

Melatonin supplements aren't recommended for jet lag because there isn't enough evidence that they work.

Symptoms of jet lag

The main symptoms are sleep-related. They include:

  • difficulty sleeping at bedtime and waking up in the morning
  • tiredness and exhaustion
  • finding it difficult to stay awake during the day
  • poor sleep quality
  • concentration and memory problems

Jet lag can also sometimes cause dizziness, indigestion, nausea, constipation, changes in appetite and mild anxiety.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 12/03/2024 10:30:54