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How to Avoid Jet Lag: Dr. Ellen’s Pro Tips!

airplane at a terminal gate

Here are my favorite tips on how to avoid jet lag, and help prevent dreaded daytime fatigue, disturbed sleep, and difficulty concentrating.

How To Avoid Jet Lag: A Few Days Before your Trip


  • Make sure your bags are packed and you have passport, visa, supplements/medications, destination places settled, and snacks. Don’t scramble at the last minute!
  • Before departing, make sure you have all your affairs, business and personal, in order. Ensure you are not stressed-out with excitement or worry, and exhausted from a party the night before. Get a good night’s sleep just prior to departure.
  • Pack a pillow and headphones for the flight.


  • Detox to lighten your body and clean out your system.
    • Wean off caffeine - Caffeine may prevent adequate and restful sleep. Caffeine also has a diuretic effect and can lead to dehydration. Replace your morning coffee with warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper instead.
    • Dump the junk - Cut out any sugars, grains, processed foods that may have crept in.
    • Exercise - Get plenty of exercise the week before your leave.
    • Make sure to hydrate - Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in fluid oz of filtered water per day.


  • Figure out what the time change will be and if you are behind or ahead of where you are headed. Begin staying up 1 hour later each night or going to bed one hour earlier each night and getting up one hour earlier in the morning to get ready for your time change.
  • Begin the ANTI-JET LAG DIET at least 2 – 4 days ahead of your flight. See below…
How to Avoid Jet Lag: Dr. Ellen’s Pro Tips. Image of person holding a glass of water, as it relates to hydrating.

How To Avoid Jet Lag: Travel Day


  • The dry, pressurized air in the aircraft causes dehydration. Drinking plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids counters this. Water is best. Alcohol not only contributes to dehydration, but has a markedly greater intoxicating effect when drunk in flight due to the barometric pressure changes that lower oxygen levels in the blood. Add 1/2 scoop of buffered vitamin C powder and put it in a glass of warm lemon water at least every 8 hours while in flight.


  • Get as much exercise as you can. Walking up and down the aisle, standing at times, and doing small twisting and stretching exercises in your seat all help to reduce discomfort, especially swelling of legs and feet. Flex and point your feet to ‘pump’ your calves, as this helps to reduce the possibility of blood clots.


  • Blindfolds, ear plugs, neck rests and blow-up pillows are all useful in helping you get quality sleep while flying. Kick your shoes off to ease pressure on the feet (some airlines provide soft sock-like slippers, and many experienced travelers carry their own).
  • There is some evidence that flying westwards causes less jet lag than flying eastwards.
  • Melatonin

Traveling East

  • Day of your flight, take one dose of melatonin (usually 1-3 mg), as directed on the bottle, between 6 and 7 p.m. your time. On the day of arrival and for the next four days take a dose of melatonin at bedtime (between 9 and 10 PM) local time of where you now are.
  • If you will not be staying in this time zone for four days and will instead be traveling further east,
  • Take one dose of melatonin on the day before flying onward, again between 6 and 7 p.m. local time (but not at bedtime). On the day of arrival at your second destination, take one dose of melatonin at bedtime (between 9 and 10 PM) local time and for the next four days.

Traveling West

  • Things are a little bit different. For one, melatonin will not help much if you travel less than five time zones to the west. No big deal – you’ll sleep on the beach anyway, right?
  • For you long distance westward travelers:
    • Day of Arrival: Take a dose of melatonin at local time bedtime (between 9 and 10 PM) and continue to do so for the next four days. If you wake up before 4 AM, go ahead and take a little more melatonin (one-half dose) so you can get a complete night’s sleep.
    • If you’re traveling further west in less than four days’ time, take melatonin at bedtime the night before leaving. Then repeat the whole schedule again at your new sunny spot on the planet.
anti-jet lag diet foods, including sweet potato and chickpeas, on a plate

Pre-Travel Anti-Jet Lag Diet (Start 2-4 days before you leave)

Alternate Feasting With Fasting

  • Day 1: Feast
    • Breakfast: Eat a high-protein meal
    • Lunch & Dinner: Eat a higher carbohydrate dinner (Sweet potato, root veggies, and fruits)
  • Day 2: Fast
    • Light meals of small salads and soups/broths and fresh made juices (preferably green veggie types)
    • Keep calories and carbs to a minimum
  • Continue eating this way until flight day or a day before if needed to end on a FAST day.
  • Stop the diet on a FAST day at the time of the day when breakfast would be served at your destination

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