Avoiding Jet Lag Game Plan when Flying

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I just recently returned from an amazing trip in Europe. I was teaching a Yoga Workshop in Germany and visiting family in Bulgaria. While the trip itself was great fun, airplane travel can be quite hard on the body.  I often have to take trans atlantic flights, sometimes a few airplane transfers so I have developed a few techniques that help me deal with the stress of flying. In the past I have had such bad jet lag that I would feel the earth beneath me literally spinning and my sleep would be off for days. Nowadays I get  on the local time the first day I arrive and never skip a night of sleep so virtually I experience close to zero jet lag.  Okay, okay…I still might get slightly moody when I’m tired here and there, but anyways… 😀

This year flying from the US to Bulgaria and back was over 24 hours door to door each way and that can make anyone feel like crap 🙂 regardless of how healthy we might be.

jumbo jet
jumbo jet

So here is my game plan 🙂

I generally sleep 2-5 hours the night before leaving which is due to packing and having to wake up at 3 am to catch my flight. So by the time I am on the airplane and taking off I can easily fall asleep. Ear plugs, sleeping eye masks and pillows definitely help. I suggest bringing Melatonin with you if you have troubles sleeping on an airplane and definitely skip the coffee.  At the most have some pu-erh or oolong tea. There is always a layover between flights, but I still manage to get some shut-eye on both flights. Usually I am asleep for 80% of the flights which also makes time fly by 😀

By the time I get to my destination I am semi rested sleep-wise, but exhausted from the flight itself in term of the stress caused by flying. However, I always make sure to stay up until midnight local time once I arrive at my destination. I don’t go to bed at 9 pm because I might wake up at 3 am wide awake. I push through my sleepiness and make sure not to take any naps which can throw my whole schedule off. By the time I hit the hay I’m nice and tired and can sleep a solid eight hours or more until morning.

That usually does the trick.

sofia frankfurt los angeles

sofia frankfurt los angeles

On the way back to the states I had to get up at 3 am after going to bed at 2 am so I did look exceptionally beat up at the airport as I was leaving Sofia.

I had some oolong tea before the flight and some bee pollen and honey to boost my immunity. BTW the honey was from my dad’s honey otherwise I won’t be buying honey here in LA as I am concerned about GMO pollen and bee farmer practices. At my flight change 4 hours later I ate 2 apples that I had brought with me from my dad’s garden again. I recommend bringing bananas and some juicy fruits and cucumbers in order to stay hydrated.

I prefer to semi fast during long flights. This last flight I only ate a few pieces of fruit and drank a lot of water. I learned this the hard way one time after having eaten some vegan airline potatoes that made me sick. I ended up having to stand in front of a jet liner bathroom for 3 hours and then finally taking a sleep medication that the stewardess gave me in order to cut the nausea. I’m not sure what made me so sick, but I assume that all the airline food is microwaved so I would much rather skip it or just have a piece of fruit instead.

Staying light definitely helps your body deal with the stress of the flight.

During the flight I drink A LOT of water. I constantly ask for it and get up and get my own. When I’m awake I get up and stretch in the back or walk around as much as possible.  Yes, that gets everyone to look over but if it gives them an idea of what they might enjoy doing then Hey, I am OK with the attention. 😀

I also put my legs up shamelessly on the seat in front of me which may look uncomfortable to a non yogi but it gets me to have less water retention in my ankles and feet which can be very unpleasant.

Out of the main 12 hour trans-Atlantic flight I am usually awake for 3 hours so I’ll carry some super inspiring books to read that have me flying on clouds metaphorically so by the time I get off the airplane in another dimension I am truly inspired. : ) 

The book I read this time was Rudolf Steiner – “The book of Mathew”. Super awesome!!! But beware it’s not your average spiritual book. It is way out there. It discusses pre recorded historical times, Atlantis, Persian civilization, Hermes, Moses, Jesus, etc.

If I am flying over night I actually drink coffee at the 9 am destination time to get me somewhat prepared for the local time.

Years ago I remember Dr. Mercola writing about using coffee only when he flies in order to avoid jet lag. I have to agree- IT WORKS.

Coffee is extremely controversial in the health communities. It is a potent powerful plant and an herb and a shamanic drink that was traditionally used during ceremonies. I also know that a lot of ashtanga and power yoga practitioners love it, including in India! It can have a powerful effect on us but having it too often can be very harsh on the adrenal system.

Let me know if you have your own tips and tricks for flying.



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  1. Annie's Gravatar

    Ali – super tips! I travel quite a bit and can totally vouch for them! But I’ve never tried melatonin – great idea, I’ll have to give it a go! A lot of times I really really want to fall asleep on a flight and simply can’t for whatever reason. I’ve also found that walking around the airplane, stretching, and drinking loads of water is key. One other tip, I’m not sure if this is just me or not, but I really try to avoid watching any movies or any shows during long flights as well. I feel like it just keeps me awake and screws up my sleep cycle even more. …and it also makes my eyes feel kind of weird. ..that last bit might be in my head though ;P

    • admin's Gravatar

      Annie i have to agree with you on the no TV/movies. GREAT TIP!!! i purposely do not turn the screen at all the entire 12 hours. a book can inspire us much more than any silly movie 😀 the sleep thing is a constitutional thing as well. i am the type of person that cannot keep awake in a moving vehicle 😀 but i think if you can make yourself sleep if will make it much easier on you <3 blessings

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