Daniel Berry's Anti-Jet-Lag Program

I modified the Argonne National Lab diet program (Overcoming Jet Lag by Charles F. Ehret and Lynne Waller Scanlon) to the essentials.

You have to be decaffeinated, so caffein has an effect on you. As soon as you start the trip, to the extent possible, when it is night time at the destination, be sleeping. Use blindfolds if necesary. Take melatonin. It makes you feel sleepy natually and is not a sleeping pill. Do not eat or do anything else. Be sleeping when it is night time at destination.

Wake up at your normal wake up time in the destination, even if everyone else is sleeping. Have three cups of caffeinated coffee. It helps move body to new time zone. Get up. Walk around. Eat breakfast. (I usually ask airline to save me the meal I miss while sleeping, and I eat its salad as breakfast.) Read. I do push ups in aisle. Stay awake. Do not sleep. Do not nap if you can avoid it. Take no more caffein all day.

Each day on trip until jet lag is over, have 2 cups of caffeinated coffee at wake up and no caffein for rest of day.

Try to stop the caffein as soon as possbile so you can be decaffeinated for trip home, when you do same thing.

So when I fly to Israel via Germany, I board flight at 5pm ET, which is midnight in Israel. So I go directly to sleep with blindfold and melatonin. Before getting on the flight, I eat as dinner a sandwich that I made before leaving for the airport and do not have flight dinner. I also have wine with that dinner to help get me sleepy. The flight lands in Frankfurt at 7am. I wake up at 6 am frankfurt time which is 7 am Israel time and have the salad of the missed dinner and three cups of coffee, and do my push ups.

I get off plane at 7am, and wait until the 10am flight to Israel that arrives at 3pm. I stay awake all day.

I end up being tired at midnight Israel time. I take melatonin to make sure I stay tired. If I wake up in middle of night, I take another melatonin.

I wake up next morning 7am, and I have 2 cups of caffeinated coffee, and so forth.

To return home, I get on the flight at 12:30am Israel time, which is 5:30pm ET. I eat the dinner on the flight and try to go to sleep only at 11pm ET, 5.5 hours later. I sleep with blindfolds and melatonin, until 6am just before arrival in Toronto. I take the three cups of caffeinated coffee at an airport Coffee Shop.

In general, I try to choose flights that are entirely during the night time of my destination. If that is not possible, I try to choose flights that cover that night time as much as possible. If that is not possible, e.g., the only flight is at day time of the destination, I have a few other strategies:

  1. If the flight leaves early in the morning of the destination, e.g., the non-stop from Toronto to Tel Aviv that leaves Toronto at midnight (7am Israel time) and arrives in Tel Aviv at 6pm, the problem here is that I would normally be coming to the airport and checking in during the time I should be sleeping. So I come to the airport not at the normal time, but at about 10pm of the destination's night before, i.e., for the non-stop from Toronto to Tel Aviv at 3pm, and I check in early and go to the lounge, eat my sandwich with wine, take melatonin, and go to sleep until it's time to go to the plane. I ask the lounge staff to awaken me. One could take an alarm clock also. If I have the right to take a shower, I do so and head to the flight. Then I simply stay awake on the flight going through the normal day time cycle of exercise, breakfast, coffee, work, lunch, etc.
  2. If the flight leaves early in the morning of the destination, e.g., the typical flight from Europe to Toronto leaving at 1pm in the afternoon (7am Toronto time), I go to the airport hotel the night before, even checking out of the hotel in town, so I can sleep up to 1/2 hour before check in time. I even try to check in the night before so I can sleep up to 1/2 hour before having to board the plane. If I had to get up say at 4 or 5am of the destination to check in properly, I sleep a bit as the flight takes off until around 9am and then go through the normal day procedure.

    This idea of checking into the airport hotel before a flight could even be used at home. If your company would cover the expenses of going a day early to allow adjusting to the time zone. This gives you a way to leave one day later, still be adjusted, and to pay no more.

  3. If the flight leaves in mid-day of the destination, e.g., the 9am (2pm London time) flight from Toronto to Heathrow, arriving at 9pm, and I have enough time to go to the airport and check in all within the daytime of the destination. I go to sleep the night before very early, at midnight of my destination, i.e., 7pm (midnight London time) and sleep until 1am (6am London Time). I then wake up, and start my normal day routine in London time, but still at home. I leave for the airport at 4am so as to avoid the morning rush hour, check in and work in the lounge until I have to board. I follow the daily schedule according to London time.

I recently was located in Europe at Central European time for a while and had to come back to North America for one day to the Eastern Standard Time zone for a half-day meeting in the morning. This is normally a 6-hour time change. However, I knew that normally in North America we would go out to dinner at around 7:00pm and that I could count on being back to the hotel by 8:30 pm to go to sleep at 9:00pm. So I figured that I would change only 3 hours, to be effectively in Greenland :-). This meant that I would be awakening at 4:00 am Eastern Time (= 7:00am Greenland time) and going to bed at 9:00pm Eastern Time (= Midnight Greenland time) during the trip. This was perfect. I would be wide awake and in the middle of my day at the start of the meeting. Lunch after the meeting at about 1:00pm would be an early dinner at 4:00pm. So I implemented only a three hour shift, which made it a bit easier to change back on the way back to Europe than it would have been if I had changed the full 6 hours.

As a result of this experience, I have learned that for extremely short trips, change for only the number of hours you need to. Indeed, if all the obligations of the trip can be achieved during your normal awake hours at home, then don't change times at all. An example of this is going from North America for a one-day afternoon or evening meeting in Europe. Be virtually at home while everyone else is where he actually is!

I have learned that an advantage I have that most other travelers do not is that I am hearing impaired enough that if I disconnect my hearing aid, I hear nothing around me. Therefore it is easier for me to sleep than it is for others. On the other hand I am acutely sensitive to changes in light. So I must have a good blindfold, otherwise I will be awakened whenever someone walks in front of a light source.

A friend of mine, Axel van Lamsweerde, explained to me how he cuts out the noise so that he can really sleep. He uses good, sound-muffling headphones. In fact, his program for a flight taking place during the night time of his destination is to SLEEP during the flight thanks to:

I hope that these examples give you ideas that you can use in order to maximize the chances of being able to sleep during the destination's night.