ZocdocAnswersCan drinking alcohol during a long flight worsen jet lag?

Question

Can drinking alcohol during a long flight worsen jet lag?

I usually order in-flight alcohol to stay relaxed. But I also experience terrible jet lag. Is there a connection?

Answer

Jet lag is one of the unfortunate consequences of traveling. The extent of jet lag is directly correlated with the number of time zones that need to be crossed for your trip. It is important to discuss this with your primary care doctor who is aware of your medical condition and if there are any medications you are taking which are not safe to take with alcohol. There are many factors which can worsen jet lag, alcohol being one of the chief ones. Although alcohol can be relaxing and help you fall asleep, excessive alcohol can magnify jet lag symptoms. Also, the effects of alcohol are increased by the high altitude of the plane. Alcohol is dehydrating, which is compounded by the dryness of the airplane due to the recycled air through the air conditioning, which can worsen the feelings of an eventual hangover and jet lag. The best things you can do to prevent jet lag are to avoid alcohol completely, including prior and after your flight, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, get some light exercise before your flight, and try to adjust your sleeping schedule gradually a few days before your trip. Again, please discuss with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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