How to beat the drag of jet lag?

British Airways’ Commercial Manager Shares His Tops Tips to Avoid the Dreaded Jet Lag

For travellers crossing time zones, jet lag is an undeniable drag. But while most flyers are aware of the effects of jet lag, few of us take steps to limit its effect.

As much as I’d like to tell you there’s a full-proof formula to beat jet lag, there isn’t! Everyone reacts differently to sudden changes in time zones but different practices and habits can help limit the impact and severity of jet lag.

LONDON, UK:  Club World onboard the new British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Engineering, London Heathrow on 05 July 2013 (Photo by Nick Morrish/British Airways)
Club World onboard the new British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Engineering, London Heathrow on 05 July 2013
(Photo by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Having flown to 75 countries across five continents, I have developed my own tricks through ‘trial and error’ which I’ve found reduce the effects of jet lag and keep me feeling fresh throughout my business travel schedule.

  • Eat Wisely: Carbs help me sleep quicker, whereas meat or eggs tend to keep me awake. Having observed this, I tend to choose my meal based on the duration of my flight and if I intend to sleep or not. Choosing healthy in-flight meals such as fruits and salads also keep you hydrated.
  • Combatting lower humidity: It is important to drink water at frequent intervals to stay hydrated when you fly. Lower humidity levels at 35,000ft in the air cause thirstiness, so reduce your consumption of fizzy drinks or alcoholic beverages and opt for water – you’ll find yourself better hydrated and rested.
  • Caffeine strategy: Be smart about when you drink coffee or tea (and how much) as caffeine disrupts sleep – always avoid caffeine in the two-to-three hours prior to bed time. If you want to stay awake, get the most from tea or coffee by working out when you’ll be at your most sleepy and top up on caffeine then, rather than drinking it throughout the day.
  • Comfort and naps: Wear comfortable clothes when you fly – it is much easier to sleep or rest well when you’re wearing a comfortable outfit. On night flights, I change into pyjamas after take-off – they allow me to stretch out on the fully flat beds in Club World and sleep. Additionally, the new sleep proposition we’ve introduced from The White Company, which includes a super-soft woven blanket, luxury duvet and padded mattress, adds extra comfort and offers an even better night’s sleep in the sky!


British Airways' new luxuriously soft quilt and bed topper by The White Company

Some sleep is better than no sleep at all and, for me personally, having a quick power nap followed by a cold shower usually keeps me going for the rest of the day. Some studies show the optimum nap time is 45 minutes – after that you descend into a deep sleep – so avoid grogginess and increase alertness by managing naps. During your flight, relax your muscles before sleep by doing gentle stretches and walking up and down the aisles. Undoubtedly, travelling in the mid-air luxury of British Airways’ Club World cabin helps beat jet lag and hit the ground running when you land. When I arrive at London Heathrow I head to our Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge to freshen up with a shower and refreshments before continuing with my day.

  • Once I arrive at my destination, I eat and sleep as per the time shown on my watch and not as per what my body asks for. For me, this is the key to success. If you give in and try to fully recuperate the lack of sleep from a flight, it often turns out to be a disaster.

British Airways' new amenity kit by The White Company
Your sleep checklist

Before the flight

  • Establish a bedtime routine
  • Start adjusting your sleep schedule with your destination’s time zone in mind
  • Minimise stress during the flight by getting organised for your trip early
  • Pick out a travelling outfit of loose fitting comfortable clothes
  • Check in online so you can start relaxing as soon as you get to the airport

During the flight

  • Use sleep triggers from your bedtime routine
  • Select a relaxing music channel from British Airways’ HighLife entertainment system
  • Use an eye mask, neck pillow and ear plugs
  • Change your watch to your destination time
  • Relax your muscles with gentle stretches and walking up and down the aisle.

When you arrive

  • Exercise in the morning to help reset your body clock
  • If you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar, make sure the room isn’t too hot or too cold and ask that you’re not disturbed when trying to sleep
  • Use sleep triggers from your bedtime routine
  • You will feel most tired between 3am and 5am home time. Work out when this will be and avoid important meetings, take a strategic nap or use caffeine during this time
  • If you’re on a short trip of less than 48 hours, avoid jetlag altogether by staying on home time as much as possible
  • Avoid exercise within 2-3 hours of bedtime

Once you’re home

  • Make note of factors that helped you avoid travel fatigue and beat jet lag – and anything that caused you stress. Use this list to help you plan for your next flight

LONDON, UK: Panagiotis Theodotou (Sales Manager Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar) from British Airways, photographed at Waterside, London Heathrow on 01 August 2017 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)


Panagiotis Theodotou, Commercial Manager (KSA and Bahrain) – British Airways