Unlocking the secret to Michael Jackson’s jet lag cure: a simple yet effective strategy for touring performers.

Traveling across time zones can wreak havoc on our body clocks and sleep cycles.


The resulting jet lag leaves many feeling fatigued, groggy, and out of sorts until our internal clocks readjust to the new environment. While waiting for your circadian rhythms to resynchronize can be an unpleasant experience, there are strategies we can employ to help speed up the process. In this article, I outline a fun approach to overcoming jet lag inspired by none other than the King of Pop himself – Michael Jackson.

Michael was renowned worldwide for his innovative and high-energy performances. Through his iconic moves, dramatic lighting, and dedication to his craft, he defied expectations of what was possible on stage. I believe there are lessons we can learn from MJ’s performances and lifestyle that can also help us “moonwalk” our way to normal sleep when dealing with jet lag. So let’s break down some Michael Jackson-inspired tips and tricks to beat jet lag like the Smooth Criminal he was.

Adjust Before You Fly: Moonwalking Through Time

One of the first steps to reducing jet lag is preparing your body before you even board the plane. A key strategy is gradually adjusting your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your trip to match the time zone of your destination. This allows your circadian rhythm a “soft landing” into the new schedule rather than experiencing a abrupt shift.

Think of it like Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk dance move, where he seems to defy the laws of motion by gliding effortlessly backwards while maintaining a forward momentum. In the same way, you want to moonwalk through time – subtly shifting your sleep earlier or later each day to align with where you’re going, rather than experiencing a jarring change upon arrival.

For example, if traveling east and losing 5 hours, you would go to bed and wake up 30-60 minutes earlier than usual each day in the week before traveling. This mimics moonwalking backwards through time. Conversely, traveling west and gaining hours, you’d shift later each night. The gradual changes make it easier for your body clock to adjust compared to a sudden switch.

Hydrate Like a Smooth Criminal

Being well-hydrated is important for overall health, but it’s especially crucial when dealing with jet lag. Long flights are dehydrating due to low humidity in plane cabins, and lack of fluids can exacerbate tiredness. Michael Jackson was famous for his energetic dance performances that would leave many drenched in sweat. As the ultimate performer, he knew to stay hydrated.

Likewise, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water during your flight. Having refreshments and snacks on hand will encourage you to keep sipping throughout. Dehydration is a jet lag trigger, so staying hydrated like a Smooth Criminal will help you feel and perform at your best once you land. Continue drinking water, juice, electrolyte beverages and light snacks in the days following as your body adjusts to the new time zone. Proper hydration will give your system the fluids it needs to overcome jet lag smoothly.

Light Show for Your Eyes

Light exposure is another important factor in regulating our circadian rhythms. Michael Jackson was known for elaborate lighting designs during his concerts that added drama and visual interest. The same concept applies to using light strategically when dealing with jet lag.

Upon arrival at your destination, expose yourself to bright, natural light as much as possible during the day. This signals to your brain that it’s daytime and helps reset your body clock. Then in the evenings, dim indoor and electronic lights to help promote melatonin production and sleepiness. You want lighting conditions that mimic dawn and dusk at your destination.

Consider carrying sunglasses to shield your eyes from bright light during long flights, which can disrupt sleep-promoting melatonin levels. Then upon landing, remove them to maximize light exposure. Using light as a tool, just like MJ did on stage, can help speed up your adjustment to the new time zone.

Beat It – Early Bedtime

One mistake many make when traveling east is trying to stay awake until a more reasonable bedtime at their destination. However, this often backfires and makes it even harder to fall asleep. Instead, the Michael Jackson approach is to hit the hay a little earlier than usual on arrival days, even if it’s still light out.

Think about how MJ might have needed an early night after a high-energy performance. Your body still thinks it’s several time zones behind, so going to bed at the scheduled local bedtime could see you lying awake for hours. Aim to be snoozing within 2-3 hours of landing, even if it’s earlier than you’d like. This allows your body to start adjusting its sleep-wake cycle for the new location.

The key is not to force yourself to stay up late just because it’s not dark yet. Respect what your body is telling you and follow Michael’s lead by beating it to bed a little sooner than the locals. This early bedtime strategy can help speed up your adjustment so you’re not exhausted the next day.

Thriller Dance to Stay Awake

There may be instances where you land at night but still can’t fall asleep immediately due to jet lag. If you find yourself wide awake in the wee hours, don’t just lie there tossing and turning. Getting frustrated or anxious about not sleeping will only exacerbate the problem.

Channel your inner Michael Jackson instead. If you can’t sleep, get up and do some light activity to gently expend energy. Go for a short walk outside if it’s safe, do some gentle stretches or yoga, or have a Thriller-inspired dance party in your room – anything to get your blood flowing without going overboard.

The goal is to make yourself tired enough to fall asleep naturally later, rather than forcing the issue. Like how MJ would power through an energetic performance, a mini dance routine can help you power through initial jet lag insomnia. Just be sure not to overexert yourself, and save any intense workouts for once you’re acclimated.

Fuel Your Engine

Proper nutrition is also important for energy levels and sleep quality when dealing with jet lag. Michael Jackson was renowned for his athletic performances that required optimal fueling. Keep your internal engine primed for the moonwalk through time zones with healthy food choices.

Aim for balanced meals with lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These provide sustained energy release and important nutrients. Limit or avoid heavy, fatty foods that can cause drowsiness. Staying well-nourished will give your body the building blocks it needs to recover from travel disruptions.

Staying hydrated with water, as mentioned earlier, is also key. Limit caffeine, as it can interfere with sleep, especially earlier in the adjustment process. Eat light snacks on the plane to avoid landing famished. Fueling your body properly, just as MJ did for his career-defining shows, will serve you well on your jet lag recovery journey.

Remember the Basics

While fun strategies can help, don’t forget some tried-and-true basics that Michael Jackson himself likely followed. Get adequate sleep in the days leading up to travel, as being overtired makes adjusting harder. Exercise daily if possible to help regulate your circadian rhythms.

Manage stress through relaxing activities. MJ was known to unwind with video games! Limit screen time before bed, as blue light can delay melatonin. Expose yourself to natural light as much as feasible upon arrival. Be patient, as full resynchronization takes about one day per time zone crossed.

Most importantly, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to bounce back instantly. Michael Jackson didn’t become the King of Pop overnight. Give your body time to moonwalk through the time change at its own pace. In a few days, you’ll be back in rhythm like the champion performer you are!


While jet lag can feel like a Thriller, taking inspiration from the late great Michael Jackson doesn’t need to be a scary experience. With a fun, moonwalking approach to gradually shifting your sleep schedule before flying, using light and dark strategically, fueling your body properly, and channeling your inner MJ when insomnia strikes, you’ll be well on your way to conquering jet lag.

Remember that every step you take, from preparation to recovery, brings you closer to feeling like a Smooth Criminal once more. So adjust, hydrate, use light therapy, beat it to bed early when you land, and dance the night away if insomnia calls. With a little moonwalking of your own, you’ll be back in sync with your destination time zone in no time. I hope these Michael Jackson-inspired tips help you beat jet lag so you can keep the party going wherever your travels may take you. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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