Strategies for overcoming jet lag on long-haul flights to Australia


Traveling to Australia is an exhilarating adventure, offering a blend of vibrant cities, stunning landscapes, and unique wildlife. However, the excitement of exploring the Land Down Under often comes with the challenge of overcoming jet lag, especially after long-haul flights across multiple time zones. Jet lag can be a real dampener on the initial days of your trip, affecting your mood, energy levels, and overall travel experience. Fortunately, with a few strategic steps, you can minimize the impact of jet lag and enjoy your Australian adventure to the fullest. Here’s how:

1. Gradually Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before Departure

A week before your flight, start adjusting your sleep schedule to match the time zone of your destination in Australia. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed an hour earlier each night, and if you’re heading west, do the opposite. This gradual adjustment can help ease the transition and reduce the severity of jet lag upon arrival.


2. Choose Flights Strategically

If possible, select flights that arrive in Australia in the evening. This timing allows you to stay awake during the flight and go to bed shortly after arrival, helping your body clock to reset. Opting for a flight route that minimizes the number of layovers can also reduce the overall stress and fatigue of travel.

3. Stay Hydrated

The dry air in airplane cabins can contribute to dehydration, which can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which can alter sleep patterns and lead to dehydration, is also a wise choice during your journey.


4. Move Around During the Flight

Staying seated for the entire duration of a long-haul flight can increase discomfort and fatigue. Make a point to stand up, stretch, and walk around the cabin periodically. This can improve your circulation and help you feel more refreshed upon arrival.

5. Use Light Exposure to Adjust Your Body Clock


Light is a powerful signal that helps regulate our body clock. Upon arrival in Australia, try to get natural sunlight exposure during the morning and early afternoon. This can help reset your internal clock to the new time zone. Conversely, avoid bright light in the evening to encourage your body to adapt to the local night.

6. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Once you arrive at your accommodation, create a sleep-conducive environment to encourage restful sleep. This might involve using earplugs and an eye mask to block out noise and light, maintaining a comfortable room temperature, and possibly using a white noise machine to drown out unfamiliar sounds.

7. Consider Short Naps Carefully

If you’re really struggling with fatigue, short naps (20-30 minutes) can be beneficial in the first couple of days. However, avoid long naps that can further disrupt your adjustment to the new time zone.

8. Stay Active

Engage in some light exercise or take a walk. Physical activity, especially outdoors, can help reset your internal clock by reinforcing the natural cues associated with daylight and darkness.

9. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid screen time before bed, and ensure your sleeping environment is quiet, dark, and cool. Good sleep hygiene practices can support more restful sleep, helping your body to recover and adjust.

10. Be Patient and Adapt Your Schedule Accordingly

Finally, give yourself permission to ease into your travel plans. It can take several days to fully adjust to a new time zone, so consider planning less demanding activities for the first few days after arrival.

Traveling to Australia is a journey worth every hour spent in transit, and with these strategies, you can mitigate jet lag and make the most of your time Down Under. Whether you’re snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the Outback, or enjoying the cosmopolitan delights of Sydney and Melbourne, overcoming jet lag is the first step to an unforgettable Australian adventure. Happy travels!

How can I reduce jet lag flying to Australia?

Flying to Australia involves a significant time zone difference, so minimizing jet lag is important for a smooth start to your trip. Here are some tips to consider:

Before your flight:

  • Adjust your sleep schedule gradually: A few days before departure, start shifting your sleep pattern towards Australian time. Go to bed and wake up a little earlier or later each day, depending on which direction you’re flying.

  • Hydration is key: Dehydration worsens jet lag. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your flight and avoid dehydrating drinks like alcohol and excessive caffeine.

  • Strategic exercise: Exercise can improve sleep quality. However, avoid strenuous workouts too close to your flight, as this can disrupt your sleep pattern.

  • Plan your meals: Opt for light, healthy meals before and during your flight. A full stomach can make sleep difficult.

During your flight:

  • Stay hydrated: Continue to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks and excessive alcohol.

  • Simulate your destination’s time zone: Set your watch to Australian time as soon as you board and try to adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.

  • Move around: Get up and stretch your legs every few hours to improve circulation and prevent stiffness.

  • Sleep strategy: If it’s nighttime in Australia, try to sleep on the flight. If it’s daytime there, avoid napping for extended periods.

How do international pilots deal with jet lag?

International pilots combat jet lag through a combination of strategies before, during, and after their flights. Here’s what they typically do:


  • Shifting sleep schedule: Similar to travelers, pilots often adjust their sleep patterns gradually in the days leading up to a trip, aligning it with their destination’s time zone.

  • Crew scheduling: Airlines often consider time zones when creating pilot schedules. Long layovers at destination cities can help with acclimatization.

  • Healthy habits: Pilots prioritize good nutrition and hydration before flights to optimize their well-being.

During the flight:

  • Light on long-haul flights: Many airlines strategically adjust cabin lighting to mimic the day-night cycle at the destination, promoting sleep when appropriate.

  • In-flight rest facilities: Some aircrafts have designated rest areas for pilots to catch sleep during long flights.

  • Hydration and healthy meals: Pilots are encouraged to stay hydrated and avoid heavy meals onboard to promote better sleep and alertness.

Upon arrival:

  • Sunlight exposure: Like travelers, pilots seek natural sunlight upon arrival to regulate their internal clock.

  • Maintaining schedule: Sticking to the local sleep schedule as much as possible is crucial for pilots too.

  • Strategic naps: Short naps can be helpful, but pilots avoid long ones that could disrupt their sleep cycle.

Additional considerations:

  • Melatonin: Some pilots may consult doctors about using melatonin supplements to regulate sleep, especially with frequent time zone changes.

  • Crew support: Airlines often have programs to support crew well-being, including strategies for managing jet lag.


while jet lag is a common challenge when embarking on long-haul flights to Australia, it doesn’t have to overshadow the excitement and enjoyment of your journey. By proactively managing your exposure to light, adjusting your sleep schedule in advance, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy level of activity, you can significantly ease the transition across time zones. Remember, the key is to listen to your body and allow yourself the grace to adapt at your own pace. With a bit of preparation and strategic planning, you can minimize the impact of jet lag and make the most of your Australian adventure from the moment you land. Australia’s breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural experiences await, so employ these strategies and set yourself up for a trip that’s memorable for all the right reasons. Happy travels, and may your journey Down Under be as smooth as your transition through time zones!


Flying into Day or Night?

Aim for flights arriving during the day in Australia. Sunlight exposure helps reset your internal clock.

Adjust Before Takeoff:

Start shifting your sleep schedule a few days before departure to match Australia’s time zone

Snooze Smart:

If flying eastbound, try sleeping during the flight’s nighttime for your destination. For westbound flights, avoid napping for too long. Short power naps are okay.


Leave a Comment