My New Jet-lag Management Strategy

I am spending a couple of weeks on the west coast of the US and Canada and being very prone to jet-lag, I’m always looking for ways to mitigate the effects of this horrible travel companion. I tried several methods in the past, ranging from positive to negative effects.

I tried assuming melatonin: It did not work.

I tried adjusting the sleeping schedule prior to the trip: It did not work (and it’s not always possible).

I tried adjusting the food intake: it worked a little bit.

I tried forcing myself to sleep at night and stay awake during the day: miserable multiple fails.

So this time I’m trying to combining a few of the past experiences and I’ll see what happens.

Food Intake

The idea behind this method is to align the nutritional intake of the body to the destination I’m traveling to. To do so, I take the first breakfast on site, subtract 16 hours to it, and fast prior to it. I then adjust with a larger than usual breakfast.

For instance, yesterday I traveled from Central Europe to Los Angeles. I picked 9 am Los Angeles time, subtracted 16 hours, which is 5 pm of the previous day when I had the last meal before fasting. That requires a little familiarity with time zones if the fasting needs to happen while crossing the ocean.

To make it easier, let’s use UTC:

  • Breakfast in Los Angeles: 16:00 UTC – 09:00 Los Angeles – 18:00 Vienna
  • Start fasting at: 00:00 UTC – 17:00 Los Angeles – 02:00 Vienna


The big game changer was meditation. I used it during the transoceanic flight to score 7 hours of sleep, and last night to pull it through the bed time.

I don’t find particularly difficult to sleep on planes, but when jet-lag kicks in I find myself wandering fully awake into my room at 3 AM, then totally trashed at 6 PM. This makes working almost impossible.

Through meditation, that I have practiced in the last few weeks, this time I was able to stay in bed for the whole night. This makes me hope for a full productive day ahead!

Let’s see how the day goes, and if there are updates, I’ll keep you posted!

Published by Luca Sartoni

I lead three teams of engineers across four continents at Automattic. I love hiking, photography, and 3D printers.

3 thoughts on “My New Jet-lag Management Strategy

  1. We’ve just got back from the Dominican Republic where they are 5 hours behind the UK. First few nights we were in bed at 8 pm and then have arrived back home today which has killed us again as we left the hotel at 1 pm to go to the airport and then arrived back in the UK at 6am. Can’t sleep on planes so would love to know for future what works.

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