NY Times posted an article about battling jet lag, and honestly I think it’s terribly written and completely inapplicable for those of us traveling to/from HK and Europe/North America. Basically the article says you need to be subject to light and darkness to be able adjust to timezones and it’s harder to adjust going East. (Obviously light / darkness helps, if you’re stuck in a dark room, you’ll be tired no matter what time it is.) Let me offer tips that help me when flying to/from HK, but I’ll focus on long-haul flying. Anything within Asia is basically one or two hours difference, no biggie.
My biggest tip is to try to sleep on the plane, but I know tons of people who have an issue with this. I suggest using ear plugs, eye mark, and a neck pillow to make it more comfortable and block out all ambient noise and light.
My next piece of advice is to arrive at your destination at night, so after you get off the plane you can wash up and get some rest. Going from HK to Europe this is a bit of a problem since most of the flights arrive in the AM, but you should be awake most of the day as long as you are able to sleep well on the flight, if not, you’re screwed.
Going the opposite direction to the North America it’s a little bit easier to time flights arriving at night since the time difference is 12-15 hours depending where exactly you are headed. To the East Coast / Chicago you only fly North, there’s no East/West non-sense so you’ll just need rest when you arrive. It’s a long flight so you’ll be tired regardless whether or not you’ve slept on the plane. Flying to the West Coast is a bit trickier since the flight is slightly shorter, so less chance to sleep on the plane, and the time difference is greater, 15 hours. West Coast flyers, I suggest staying up a few hours after you’re arrival, get yourself really tired, then go to sleep.
Coming back to HK on the other hand it should be easier since the flights from Europe and North America arrive in the afternoon/evening generally, so by the time you get home, do a few things, you’ll still be tired and ready for sleep.
They say it takes 1 day to adjust to 1 timezone, I think this is non-sense since it doesn’t take 12 days for most people to adjust from NY to HK, maybe a week max. My general rule of thumb is rest, if you don’t get enough rest your body will always fell tired and you’ll have a greater chance of getting sick as well. (Just don’t rest during the daytime. hehe)