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There was a lot of information on the How can I avoid or minimize jet lag? post, so I thought I'd ask something more specific here.

I will be travelling from South Korea to the east coast of the US. I want to be productive and energetic when I get there. Would it be better to sleep as much as possible during the trip or stay awake for some portions to match my target time zone? The long haul flight is from 6:00pm (Korea time) to 4:15pm (EST), so I'll be flying most of it during target timezone's daylight. I'm torn between getting as much rest as possible or matching the timezone.

Also, in terms of light therapy, what would be best for this situation?

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This depends on you, reaching 4 pm is not bad even if you did not sleep that much, you will need sometime to finish with customs/immigrations and collect luggage and go to your accommodation, that will take something like 2 hours or so, it will be something like 6pm or so, it won't be long till sleeping time. Next day things will be ok if you managed to sleep at 12 or so. – Heidel Ber Gensis Jun 7 '14 at 15:16
I don't find that schedule to be too bad. For me, I would attempt to stay awake and then go to sleep not long after getting to the hotel (say 8:00-9:00pm). I would then awake, probably, about 3-4 am (4-5:00pm Seoul time) and be okay until the afternoon. The temptation to avoid is to fall asleep the next day too early, so do something that will keep you up until at least 8-9:00 pm and doesn't require the brain hitting on all cylinders. – Spehro Pefhany Jun 7 '14 at 15:31
I voted to keep this question open. There is a lot of research about vigilance, fatigue, patterns of sleep, etc. so while it might be tempting to answer this question based on subjective anecdotes, it could in principle be answered objectively by someone who knows this research. – Relaxed Jun 15 '14 at 13:10
possible duplicate of How can I avoid or minimize jet lag? – Mark Mayo Sep 21 '14 at 1:49

From my experience, the biggest thing is to set your watch to your destination's local time at the gate while you are waiting to board. Mentally commit to the new "local" time and do everything you can to get a jump start on acclimating your body (ie sleeping or staying awak when you need to). This includes skipping meal services if need be.

In your specific example you would be boarding at 6pm Korea time which is 5am EST, so I would recommend staying awake during the entire flight, or at least sleeping as little as possible. I typically like to stay away from soda or coffee that has caffeine, as this alters your body's natural sleep cycle. However, in your case it may be useful to help stay awake during the flight.

Some other things that work best for me are:

  • Eat Light, heavy foods suck my energy
  • Stay hydrated, water or a sports drink
  • Avoid caffeine, (unless deliberately trying to stay awake)
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