How To Beat Jet Lag Hacks

If you were to Google "How to beat jet lag" you would get hundreds of thousands of results back talking about how to beat jet lag, things you can do and how to ensure that you're staying at your best while traveling long distances.

What I want to share with you is my experience with traveling and jet lag over the years. Its funny I can recall short trips that I faced more jet lag than longer trips and vise versa, and never really understood what was actually at work there.

Before I can tell you how to beat it, lets look at what Jet Lag actually is and that deeper understanding will help you master this trip and hopefully any in the future.

Jet lag is a series of symptoms that occur when our internal body clock is disrupted. We all have this "built in body clock", which is set of cells made up of unique 'body clock' genes called Suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN. These cells tell other parts of the body essentially what time it is.

Crazy right!?

The body clock keeps us in tune with the pattern of day and night. It means we sleep at night, but also affects hunger, mood and blood pressure. [1]

One of the biggest factors that help regulate this internal clock is in fact daylight, which helps us reset each day to match the sun.

According to Dr. Smith L. Johnston, chief of the fatigue management team at NASA, it takes about a day for our bodies to shift just one time zone, so you can imagine why it often takes several days for us to adjust when we travel across several time zones at once.

Now that we have a better idea about what the heck Jet lag is and a big factor, how do we beat it?

Beating Jet Lag Basics...

Most people have heard about the basics but I will cover them just to be sure...

  1. Stay hydrated (pick up a bottle of water after security instead of relying on friendly flight staff)
  2. Pack low sodium snacks (protein bars, veggies, and anything that is low sodium)
  3. Avoid alcohol (it may not help you pass out like you think, plus I have something better than that for sleep aid coming in the mail)

Jet Lag Myths 

Outside of that we can now tackle the next things you often hear...

  1. Adjust to the timezone you're traveling too the minute you step on the plane (this is actually only true of shorter trips and trips where you're not jumping more than 3 timezones) So all you coming from Australia you should be ok to use this
  2. Get on the plane and go to sleep immediately (again with our new found knowledge of light begin a big factor this isn't true)

My Process

So here is what I would suggest and a way to actually win with Jet Lag

  1. A few days before you leave start to shift your sleeping pattern to match your time zone. So you will have to look this up but you start to adjust and hour each day for 2-4 days before your trip.
  2. Use a sleep aid in late afternoon to get you tired- I have one on the way for all attendees with low amounts of Melatonin, its a great overall solution.
  3. When you wake up in the morning hit yourself with heavy light to again get your clock to adjust. You can also use Red light treatment to mimic sunlight affects on Mitochondria. Blue light puts you to bed and rests the mind, red light wakes up or stimulates.

 Helen Burgess, director of the biological rhythms research lab at Rush University Medical Center, tried adjusting her schedule prior to a trip from Chicago to Egypt. For several days before the trip, Burgess went to bed and woke up an hour earlier each day and took a low dose of melatonin in the early afternoons. Each morning she sought out bright light to help her body clock advance, and she said adjusting to the new time zone in Egypt was much easier than it would have been otherwise.

Now to figure out timezones, traveling east or west and how to adjust there is an iphone app (I have not used yet but will on my trip to Japan) that you can use to help you there, its called Entrain, developed by researches at the University of Michigan.

Final notes

  • Pack comfy clothes to travel in, slip into some sweats on the flight after you board
  • Invest in a face mask, noise deadening headphones or disposable ear plugs.

 

Give that a shot!

*I will most likely be updating this article from time to time to ensure I give the most useful information for your traveling, check back often!