Editor: Olivier Le Bon

How Smart People Can Overcome JET LAG

eBook: US $13 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $90
Printed Copy: US $84
Library License: US $52
ISBN: 978-1-68108-294-3 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-68108-293-6 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2016
DOI: 10.2174/97816810829361160101


Jet lag – that familiar feeling of fatigue when one exits a plane after a long flight – has no established remedy. No medical application or device is yet capable of eliminating jet lag, especially considering the fact that it differs whether you travel eastwards or westwards and also depends on the number of times zones crossed (as much as 23 different time zone segments can be identified). The problem of jet lag is thus more complex than it may seem. However, if it affects you, there are many things that you can do to help beat it.

How Smart People Can Overcome Jet Lag scientifically explains the jet lag phenomenon. It then covers some easy tricks to fight jet lag, bright light, melatonin, sleeping pills and stimulants. Therefore, readers will be able to understand the reasons for jet lag and various ways to overcome it. How Smart People Can Overcome Jet Lag is a handy technical guide for anyone looking to make their air travel experiences less tiring.


In my opinion, anyone who claims that there is a universal and simple cure for jet lag is naive, misinformed or dishonest. There is no such cure. No remedy, application or device is yet capable of eliminating it completely, especially if you take into consideration the fact that jet lag differs whether you travel eastwards or westwards and depends on the number of times zones you cross.

I am confident though, that finding a cure is only a matter of time. Tomorrow, or within five or twenty years, a way to adapt immediately to time zone shifts will be invented, patented and distributed. Soon, jet lag will be a thing of the past. But what can be done in the meantime? There is, as just mentioned, no universal cure and the problem is more complex than it looks, but there are a lot of things that can already be done to help you overcome jet lag if you are affected by it.

Jet lag seems to bother people to varying degrees. To some, like me unfortunately, it repeatedly harms work and holidays if nothing is done about it. Other, more fortunate people seem to adjust almost seamlessly to even several time zone shifts, going to work practically as soon as they land, as though nothing had happened. The majority however are somewhere in between.

As I am fond of travelling, I started to explore the scientific remedies that are presently proposed. No-nonsense measures can do a lot of good with little effort. Bright light and melatonin shorten the adaptation time. Sleeping pills help you obtain enough sleep and stimulants help you stay well awake when needed.

I rapidly realized though that there are as many optimal strategies against jet lag as there are time zones (minus one of course if you remain in the same one). Designing specific "treatments" or "remedies" for each of them increases their effectiveness by a good notch. I thus started with the available evidence-based medicine on the matter, in order to learn what could really help. I then extrapolated from that to adapt these remedies to each possible time zone shift. I did this on the basis of common sense, on my own experience as a traveller and on reports by a few patients who trusted me. Thus this sometimes goes beyond proven science, as many of the remedies described have not been field-tested at all or not sufficiently. I wish that they had been or I wish that I could participate in their testing, but this would require resources I do not have, as well as a lot of time.

These remedies only work if you use them wisely, opting for the best one intelligently and progressively. The graduated response strategy I suggest here is for you to try the simple tricks and no-nonsense reasoning first. I then propose trying bright light and melatonin. If these do not prove effective enough, you could try sleeping pills. Caffeine can be very effective against sleepiness, especially if you wean yourself from it a week before departure. If nothing works enough and you want to venture a little more into the field of stimulants, then you may consider modafinil.

All in all, I believe that these combinations can already and safely solve the vast majority of jet lag-associated problems. This book will bring to a wider audience this knowledge which can still be improved. I hope that your feedback will help me to refine it for a future edition. Don't forget this is a threesome party, as you will have to convince your doctor to prescribe you the sleeping pills and stimulants.

My hope is that this book will help people who love or need to travel and continue to be handicapped by jet lag.

Olivier LE BON
Université Libre de Bruxelles