Health Fitness

12 ways to avoid jet lag

12 ways to avoid jet lag

Nikki Gray


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jet lag

I just had my first experience with "jet lag". To be honest I didn't even know it was a real thing, I thought it was maybe a nice excuse. I had traveled before and never experienced it. I recently traveled to Europe for the first time in my life. I loved it there, slept plenty and felt great coming home. As soon as I made it home I was like a limp noodle, completely weak and tired. Even two weeks later my energy level was still low. I got a little cold, felt horrible. Well, jet lag definitely is real folks! Jet lag can cause in some: irritability, sleepiness during the day, heart palpitations, insomnia at night, confusion, difficulty concentrating, headache, depression, lack of appetite or hunger at unusual times, general malaise and fatigue. As some of you may already know, it's not fun, I'll tell you that. It was very debilitating and hard to get anything done, especially write, as you may have noticed I have been missing from here for a little bit;) I wasn't my usual happy self. But thankfully there are ways to lesson the lag.

Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronizes and rarely circadian dysrhythmia, is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body's circadian rhythms resulting from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel on high-speed aircraft. It was previously[1] classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

The condition of jet lag may last several days until one is fully adjusted to the new time zone, and a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed is a suggested guideline. The issue of jet lag is especially pronounced for airline pilots, crew, and frequent travelers. Airlines have regulations aimed at combating pilot fatigue caused by jet lag.

The common term jet lag is used, because before the arrival of passenger jet aircraft, it was generally uncommon to travel far and fast enough to cause jet lag. Trips in propeller-driven aircraft and trains were slower and of more limited distance than jet flights, and thus did not contribute as widely to the problem.(Wikipedia)

12 ways to avoid jet lag

1: STAY HYDRATED

The days before your flight, on the flight, when you land: drink your water! Jet lag is many times in fact dehydration. Flying is dehydrating as it is but if you add any diuretics in the mix, you're probably going to feel under the weather for a couple days.

2: melatonin

Melatonin is vital for your overall health and can work wonders for jet lag. Some people I've talked to swear it's the only way to go. Take 5-10 mg one hour before desired bedtime, wherever you are. Melatonin is a hormone that you produce naturally. It tells your body when it's time to go to sleep. Of course this rhythm gets completely messed up when traveling so supplementing melatonin at the right time will get your body on the correct timing much more quickly and efficiently. Another note it's best to keep your supplements in your carry on. The checked baggage temperature can end up diluting potency. I recommend this for everyone to try, it's easy and efficient. I will definitely be bringing my melatonin with me next time.

3: Exercise

Many seasoned travelers swear by exercise to beat jet lag. It is important to rest and get a good night's sleep the first day you get in, but if you're feeling a little energetic after your flight and it is daytime when you arrive, going for a brisk walk outdoors can do wonders and keep you one step ahead. Exercising in the morning is especially good for jet lag.  It let's your body know it isn't bed time, you're not in California anymore, or wherever you came from. Exercise has so many benefits mentally and physically anyways so JUST DO IT and get to that gym, jog outdoors, walk around(briskly) and see the sights. 

4: GET YOUR SUNSHINE IN/VITAMIN D

One of the most beneficial things you can do to help your body beat jet lag is as soon as you wake up, get in the sun. It does two things, it lets your body know that it is indeed morning where you are now at and helps your body's natural rhythm adjust smoothly. The second thing is it increases your vitamin D levels. Get a safe dose of sunshine(10-15 minutes). Doing this causes your body to naturally produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for fighting inflammation, a strong immune system, stress management; all key things in the fight against jet lag. It is needed for your brain as an anti-depressant and helps mental clarity. Good vitamin D levels usually equal no brain fog. You can also supplement with vitamin D3.

5: avoid alcohol and CAFFEINE

I did not feel jet lag in Europe, at all. I had tons of energy. I would wake up very early or at odd times but for the most part I felt energetic. When I got home I was a limp noodle, mentally and physically. I really think this is because I had alcohol on the way home. I am not the most comfortable with flying, although I've gotten much better at overcoming my fear. I used to let it bother me a week before, thinking and worrying if I'm getting on that one wrong flight, it was ridiculous. Now that I'm older and stronger mentally I've gotten more used to it. I kind of have a relaxed vibe now when it comes to flying, I try to enjoy it. It is the only time I use anti-anxiety meds that my doctor has prescribed me. I don't use them regularly because when I have they've made me cranky and feel kind of down. I've felt no side effects from taking them every so often when I fly. So on the way home; I drank. I had some champagne and a couple shots of gin. Oops:) On the way there I did not have a drop of alcohol but I did have my prescribed anti-anxiety(Ativan). The way I felt was night and day. I can honestly say I don't think I'll ever drink on a flight again. If you can it is best to avoid alcohol on flights at all costs.  I know most probably would balk at that but if it's to avoid a week or two of fatigue and brain fog I think it's definitely worth it. Flying is dehydrating as it is so it is a double whammy. Alcohol also depletes your B vitamins, vitamin C etc. It is not a good idea if you want to thoroughly enjoy your trip and not spend 2 or 3 days feeling blah. If you're not as sensitive to alcohol and can have a little with no ill side effects, more power to you. It's all about finding what works for you and your body. If you're sensitive to alcohol(not bouncing back within a day) I would recommended talking to your doctor about an anti-anxiety medication if you are uncomfortable with flying. They also help you sleep on the plane which is of course an added bonus for long flights. They are not great for you mentally and psychically, so it is best to just use when you have to fly if you can. Long term regular use(every day, every other day etc.) has been shown to actually increase anxiety in some. 

6: fasting

Some people swear this is the way to avoid jet lag completely, but like the no alcohol trick, it can be not so fun. It's up to you if it's worth it. Your body is going through so much on a flight as it is. With the air pressure, the altitude. Flying creates inflammation and upset stomach in many people. If you're on a plane eating a bunch of junk your body is already under so much, in many people it creates inflammation, upset stomach and backed up digestion. The food on the plane is literally the worst thing you can put in your body. First class, coach, it's all some kind of toxic cafeteria concoction. It's best if you must eat on the plane pack healthy options like dried fruit(with no added sugar), nuts, a good protein bar; anything healthy that floats your boat. It is key to be prepared when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition. If you forget to pack your healthy alternatives, chances are you are going to end up eating the airplane slop...and throughly regretting it afterward as your stomach screams WTF is this?! If you want to feel your best; do not overindulge on the plane. Save the indulging for when you arrive at your destination and enjoy the local restaurants. It's more fun that way; better food and much better on your body.

7: epsom salt baths and steam/sauna

One of the best things you can do the first night you arrive at your destination is to take an epsom salt bath an hour or two before bed. It will help your body detoxify itself and the magnesium will calm your body for a deeper sleep. If you can put some lavender or chamomile essential oil in your bath, even better. To feel your best keep this up and do it every other day or 2-3 times a week is ideal in any situation. Some people just like it more often when traveling. Many people I talk to swear by a sauna or a steam when they arrive. Steaming is detoxifying and has anti-inflammatory action while letting all the germs, stress and tension of the day sweat right out of you. And of course, make sure you drink your water along with this routine to help the detoxification process and avoid dehydration.

8: Jet lag fighting herbs

Rhodiola rosea, camomile, valerian, ginseng have all been shown to fight jet lag. Rhodiola rosea has an effect similar to corticosteroids(anti-inflammatory meds IE prednisone) without the harsh side effects of the prescription form. Flying increases inflammation which can set off many issues in your body. Taking an anti-inflammatory herb, like rhodiola rosea, that also helps with mood can be very beneficial for jet lag.

9: vitamin c and b vitamins

I'm a major fan of vitamin C, as you may have noticed. To have a healthy immune system you need vitamin C in your body in some form or another. Most of us do not get enough from food and our bodies get depleted of this vital antioxidant . Especially on a flight with 100 people, some sick with a cold or flu, it's definitely a good idea to replenish your C levels. Stress, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, birth control pills, quite a few factors deplete vitamin C.  People with adrenal issues(hard time handling stress, fatigue, bloating) definitely need extra. I take 2000-5000mg a day when I'm traveling or not feeling my best. It may sound like a lot but it is a water soluble vitamin so your body excretes safely what it doesn't need. Most often you need it. Your body uses up vitamin C so quickly it is best to space out your doses every 4 hours. If I wake up at 8 I take 1000mg in the morning, 2000mg at noon and 2000mg at 4. A reason goji berries are a great snack if you must eat on your flight is they are high in vitamin C. I like Ester-C 500 or 1000mg capsules since I am sensitive to acidic products. Emergen-C packets are great to throw in your carry on as well. Not only are they full of C they are also high in B vitamins and essential minerals. An MD I talked to about jet lag swears the Emergen-C packets are the best, and this is coming from someone who has his own line of vitamins, the fact that he endorses a brand not his own shows a lot. With C and B vitamins, it's about consistency as well. You can't wait until you are starting to feel under the weather and then overload yourself with vitamins and minerals, by then it's usually too late.  If you really want to avoid it start taking EmergenC or some form of B and C vitamins a couple days before your trip and continue everyday of your trip, and also a few days after you get home. 

10: Probiotics

When traveling your body's natural rhythm gets thrown off, this includes your digestive system. Many people with stomach issues have problems/flare ups while flying, whether it be from stress, altitude and/or air pressure changes. The truth is if your gut isn't healthy; you aren't healthy. Eastern medicine and even traditional Western medicine doctors agree. Your gut actually has more nerve endings than your brain. In Eastern medicine it is believed your stomach is your second brain. When your stomach is upset, you're upset...angry, irritable, depressed. To keep your gut happy it is extremly important for your stomach to be full of beneficial bacteria. Without this you get a weakened immune system, digestive issues, yeast overgrowth, brain fog, low energy, and are more susecptible to infections. . It is very common for your digestive system to get over taxed while traveling, you need to take good care of it if you want to feel great. Yogurt/frozen yogurt is also a good treat to have in place of desserts like ice cream since yogurt naturally contain probiotics. Try to go with yogurt with little to no added sugar. The more sugar you eat, the less healthy your stomach will be. Also may as well add nothing creates tight, flat abs like a low sugar diet. Take one probiotic supplement in the morning on an empty stomach to prevent feeling sluggish and backed up

10: adjustING SLEEP HOURS

If you are traveling west go to bed an hour later than usual 3 nights before your trip. Then 2 hours, then 3. If you can do this it can help ease your body into the upcoming time zone change. If you are traveling east do the opposite; go to sleep an hour earlier, then an hour earlier the next night etc. Adjust your wake up time to go along with your sleep schedule. Wake up an hour earlier if you are going to sleep an hour earlier that night. This is a very, efficient, effective way to ease your body into the new schedule, hopefully helping you avoid any travel fatigue altogether.

11: EARTHING

Some consider this a "wives tale" but I now actually agree that it works. Mostly because my hairstylist Lily is so brilliant when it comes to anything body, health, mind and spirit. She has helped me with a lot over the years, I've been going to her for almost 8 years, so a long time. She sent me to an acupuncturist that told me which foods I'm sensitive to and it completely changed my life for the better. When she mentioned the other day that every country you go to, the first day, have your feet touch the earth(the grass, the dirt) get connected with the earth, I thought it sounded kind of silly. She is smart about so many things I decided to look into it. Not only that, I had a yoga session outside(after I got back from my trip) and during certain times my feet where touching the grass. After I felt much, much better and my energy was indeed boosted. When your body loses contact with the earth it creates a positive charge. It is believed this is not good for your health and well being. Getting reconnected with the earth returns your body's voltage to zero which is supposedly much better for us especially when it comes to inflammation. I know it sounds a little wacky but when you think about the negative ions you get from surfing or being in the ocean, it starts to make sense. Get out there and get your toes in the grass. Connect with the new country you landed in as soon as possible. Go for a brisk walk to a park and take your shoes off, sit back and relax. Who cares if you look crazy, as long as you feel good;)

Then I started to read about the negative ions and it all made a lot of sense.

I had heard of negative ions for your health before because I love to surf, someone told me one of the many benefits is each time a wave crashes your body picks up negative ions. Even though it may sound silly to some, it did me at first, there is science behind it. Negative ions are anti-inflammatory.

12: sex and a little blue pill 

Yes, oddly enough...Viagra. There have been studies that show it to be a major proponent in the fight against jet lag, even totally relieving it in some. That's the thing about jet lag, what works for one person may not work for the next. It's all about finding what works for you through trial and error. If you are already prescribed Viagra it's worth a shot to give it a try when you're laggin. 

Nikki Gray CNC