Brittany Kulick

How to get over jet lag when traveling to Japan

A holiday in Japan is the stuff of dreams… but when jet lag strikes, you’re at risk of sleeping through your whole vacation. Dick Clark says “jet lag is for amateurs,” but even the most experienced traveler can suffer from jet lag if they don’t take proper precautions. Most travelers will be flying over several time zones on their way to Japan, so if you want to enjoy your dream vacation, be sure to follow these tips to avoid jet lag in Japan.

Start preparations at home

Jet lag hits once you arrive, so it’s easy to forget all about this side effect of travel before you step on a plane. But if you plan before you travel, you stand a better chance of avoiding jet lag. While you’re making your packing lists, planning your itinerary and saying goodbye to friends and family, make a plan to avoid jet lag with a couple easy steps.

Adjust your sleep schedule gradually

Begin adjusting your sleeping schedule in the days leading up to your trip. Go to sleep earlier (or later– depending on where you’re flying from) each night to get your body closer to the time zone in Japan. 

It may even be helpful to set your watch to Japan Standard Time ahead of your trip. Each time you look at your wrist, you can mentally prepare for the new time zone.

Changing to Japan time before traveling to Japan to avoid jet lag

Be well rested before your trip

You need a holiday, so it’s likely you’re starting out stressed and in need of a rest. But being well rested is one of the keys to avoiding jet lag. Don’t save your packing until the night before your trip, instead, prioritize a full night’s sleep.

Make good choices on the plane

You made it to the plane! The holiday has started and you’re well on your way! It’s time to celebrate… or is it? The decisions you make on the flight to Japan can be the difference between suffering from jet lag and enjoying your first days in the country.

How to spending time in a plane to avoid jet lag when traveling to Japan

Stay hydrated (skip alcohol and caffeine)

Free booze on international flights is an exciting prospect. It’s easy to take advantage of the open bar and free-flowing coffee. But if you over-imbibe on the free drinks, you’ll pay the price in jet lag.

Staying hydrated is key to minimizing jet lag. Choose water over wine and your body will thank you once you’ve arrived in Japan.

Eat light

Like alcohol, it can be easy to overindulge on food when it’s constantly on offer in flight. Avoid foods high in fat and sugar, which can be difficult to digest and hinder your ability to sleep.

Sleep on the plane when it’s nighttime at your destination

If you’ve done the work at home, your internal clock is already inching its way to Japan Standard Time. Now is a great time to make the switch. Do your best to sleep on the plane… but only when it’s nighttime in Japan. 

Pack your bag with sleep essentials: Earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones and an eye mask. Some people may benefit from taking melatonin, a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm.  Sweet dreams on the plane during local nighttime is just one more step toward a great first day when you arrive.

Tips for the first day in Japan

The wheels of the plane touch down in Japan and it’s finally official– your holiday has started! You have so much to see and do and eat. But as the afternoon goes on, your eyelids droop and a nap sounds like a good idea. But is a nap a good way to overcome jet lag?

Stay awake as late as possible on your first day in Japan

Say no to naps! The key to beating jet lag is to get onto local time as soon as possible. Spend time outdoors in sunlight and do your best to stay awake until nighttime. The sun regulates your body’s circadian rhythm, so time in the sun is key to getting settled into Japan Standard Time.

Eat at local meal times

Your body may demand to be fed at times corresponding to the timezone you just left. But it’s important to shift toward eating only during Japanese meal times. Believe me… the ramen is worth waiting for!

Following these tips will help you stay awake through your dream holiday. What’s your top tip for avoiding jet lag?

Final Thoughts

A flight to Japan can take anything from 4 to 18 hours and the time difference from your local time can also range from a few hours to 18 hours.

Without planning ahead, you risk going through the first few days in Japan with jet lag. 

I hope this guide will help you keep jet lag to a minimum and let you enjoy your stay in Japan to the MAX.

More ideas to improve your trip to Japan

[Free download !] 
16 tips to make your trip to Japan amazing!

Download our special PDF guide here to help you with your trip to Japan.

Explore More

Did this article pique your interest in …? 

Check out ....

  • Great … Itinerary Ideas  

Mashiko /  Nasu-Karasuyama /  Nikko 1 / Nikko2

  • Great …

Otowa Restaurant (French cuisine) /  Ryokan (Japanese kaiseki)


Did you find this article useful?

I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.

To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.

Contributor: Brittany Kulick

Brittany is the founder of The Sweet Wanderlust, a food and travel blog for people with a sweet tooth and a taste for adventure. She’s visited more than 60 countries and Japan is one of her favorites! 

website:  The Sweet Wanderlust

Back To Top