Traveling from UTC+8 to UTC-8 (16 hour difference). Other than sleeping or having a coffee, what are some hacks that can help recover jet-lag in quickest manner ?

  • 3
    isn't UTC+8 to UTC-8 only 8 hours difference instead of 16? (just on a different calendar day)
    – pseyfert
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 23:18

6 Answers 6


+8 to -8... California to Japan, for instance?

For you it ought to be relatively easy on the out-trip, you'll get the worst jet lag coming home.

I used to do London-Japan & meet a team from LA there. I was lagged on the way out, they were fine, they were lagged on the way home, I was fine.
We all did this 4 or 5 times a year for 10 years, so we had plenty of practise. Sometimes we'd be there a week, sometimes 2 months, & different length stays affect your recovery.

Some of this depends on what the local time is when you get to your final destination hotel etc [rather than what time you land]

I used to land about noon, but not get to my final destination til 4 or 5 pm.
The main 'trick' I used to use was to sleep as long as possible on the plane, so when you land your brain has a better chance of accepting it as 'morning'.
Then I would stay up determinedly until midnight.
Coffee is obvious, but go out for a meal, grab a beer, stay out in public so there's no opportunity to nod off. My colleagues from the US would arrive late enough to go straight to bed so there was no chance to do this in a group, which would have made it easier.

Lots of people recommended melatonin tablets - I never found they made any difference whatsoever. They're also not licensed for sale in the UK so I had to borrow some from US colleagues to test them.

Also - sleeping pills are not recommended for air journeys, so do the best you can without coffee & maybe grab a couple of whiskies, just enough to be able to nod off in all the racket on the plane. Take earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
Sleeping on planes is a practised art, especially if you're in 'the chickens' as the crews call it, 'coach' or 'economy' as the public know it;-)

One very odd but eminently reproducible twist is that on the first night you can't stay awake in the evening & can't wake up in the morning [though you must or you'll never get over it]. Each day you can stay up later & get up earlier. About a week or so into the trip this extends so far that your body is actually starting to wake up before you go to bed - so you get 3 or 4 nights of insomnia after about 1-2 weeks.
Then you're through it & your lag is finally over.

  • Maybe most people are influenced the same by direction of travel but certainly not all. Take all precautions you can take but be hopeful you will not be affected too badly.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 22:13

Here is what worked for me well on frequency east-coast to China travel (12 or 13 hours depending on season). The thing that you really want to avoid is being wide awake at 3am in the morning.

  1. Try to pick flights that arrive in the afternoon or early evening. Early morning arrivals are terrible.
  2. Try to stay awake in the plane. Work, watch movies, read. If you get really tired, take a catnap.
  3. Stay active and awake until it's "normal" bed time in the new location. A few beers and a nice dinner can help this along. At this point you had a really long day and should be bone tired. Out cold in 5s.
  4. I still may wake up at 3 am but tend to be tired enough to just turn around and fall asleep again.
  5. Switch to "normal" wake up and bed times right away. No transition, no day time naps. Just pretend that there is no jet leg and keep busy.
  • 1
    That works unless a couple of taxi drivers decide to have a loud discussion just outside your room. (Happened to me, cost me a few days extra to adjust.) +1
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 22:15
  1. Don't worry about the flight , maybe don't drink alcohol, but sleep if you feel like it, keep hydrated.
  2. On arrival try to stay awake until normal sleeping hours, keep hydrated, go for a walk.
  3. Physical activity when arriving or days after.

First days you might wake early, just go for a jog or read a book.


Sleeping is the primary cause and symptom of jet lag. Consequently, any solutions will need to address that. Caffeine and alcohol may help, but the effectiveness varies by the individual. That's probably why you've excluded those.

Methods to reset circadian rhythm should apply just as well to jet lag as other reasons for disrupted sleep cycle. Here are a few solutions for quickly recovering from jet lag:

  1. Fasting to reset sleep cycle
  2. blue light and sunlight to help you stay awake
  3. binaural beats and/or guided hypnosis
  4. power naps

I'm not sure if these qualify as "life hacks," and "quick" may be subjective, but these are some relevant methods that I recall of from popular news sources regarding sleep at least.


Seems a solution to this would be similar to the age-old problem of a cure for the common cold :-)

I've only ever done transatlantic (10 hours difference). What has worked for me is:

  1. Tough it out and stay awake at all costs until your normal bed time at the destination (provided that you may need an hour or two extra to completely recover from the added fatigue, so have some leeway in the waking time the first day or two). I avoid stimulants (like caffeine) and soporifics (sleeping tablets).

Other things you might try (combine with above):

  1. Wear yellow or orange glasses (cheap safety goggles should do) 2-3 hours before bedtime. These are supposed to cut out UV and blue light wavelengths. While melatonin is constantly produced, this is also destroyed in the presence of light of wavelengths smaller than about 530 nanometers (which is abundant during the day, and also from LED lighting, some fluorescents, as well as phone/laptop screens etc.). The yellow/orange shades cut out these and simulate dawn, at which time melatonin buildup can commence, and produce sleepiness at a sufficient high level.
  2. Your body also needs sufficient ingested tryptophan (or 5-HTP) as a building block from which to produce first serotonin and from this melatonin (ingested melatonin itself supposedly can not reach your brain due to the blood-brain-barrier). Others have mentioned this, but an additional important aspect to this is that tryptophan (a small amino acid molecule) is difficult to get past the blood-brain-barrier and difficult to get into the appropriate cells. It seems that some carbohydrates together with your tryptophan-rich foods produce some insulin, which is helpful in this regard.

You could try to start this on the flight, but of course the plane's meal/snack routine, lighting and noise (and general inability to sleep in those awful seats) may not be helpful.

Caveat: Since we're talking about endocrinology one should point out that not everything works the same for everybody, peoples' internal chemistry can differ widely. Your mileage may vary and all that.

Some other reading:


You are trying to alter your body's circadian rhythm to match an altered day/night time period. The ways you can do this are shown below. Apply these methods to help yourself sleep or wake as needed to match the current day/night.

To make yourself sleepy:

Consume Melatonin (regulates circadian rhythm)
Consume Tryptophan (Parmesan or cheddar cheese; metabolizes to serotonin and melatonin)
Avoid bright light (at least 2 hours prior to bed)
Perform normal night time rituals (shower, read in bed, ect.)
Not recommended: Consume general depressants (alcohol, sleeping pills)

To wake yourself up:

Consume (preferrably complex) carbohydrates (bread, cereal)
Consume stimulants: Caffeine, Taurine
Expose yourself to bright light (blue or white works best)





When to apply bright light

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