How to Decrease Jet Lag

By Dr. Nicole Maxwell

Planning to travel?  Want to take advantage of every minute?  Learn how to decrease the symptoms of jet lag so you can enjoy your time instead of wanting to sleep the day away.

Jet lag symptoms include: 

  • Disturbed sleep — such as difficulty falling asleep, early waking or excessive sleepiness.
  • Daytime tiredness.
  • Difficulty functioning at your usual level.
  • Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea.
  • A general feeling of not being well.
  • Mood changes.

Hydration: dehydration worsens symptoms of jet lag and airplane travel promotes dehydration.  Make sure to hydrate well before, during and after your flight.  Avoid alcohol, soda and caffeine as those promote dehydration as well.  Choose an aisle seat so you can take bathroom breaks as needed.  Consider drinking a glass of water every waking hour on your flight.

Melatonin: Melatonin is related to light – light suppresses melatonin secretion.  Crossing time zones disrupts the melatonin cycle.  Consider taking melatonin upon arrival one hour before the new bedtime.  If you arrive in the morning, wait until that evening to supplement.  1-3mg should be plenty.

Homeopathic combination remedies like No Jet Lag can be very helpful for recovering from jet lag.  No Jet Lag directions: chew 1 upon take off, one in the middle of flight, one upon landing and one before bed, local time. May also chew 1 three times a day the next day if needed.

Acupressure can also be helpful for jet lag and it’s free!  Check out this link by physical therapist, Mary Golob for the acupressure points and the associated times.

Fasting hasn’t been tested in clinical trials yet and the theory, extrapolated from mice, is that the body’s circadian clock gets suspended when fasting to conserve energy.  When you eat soon after landing, the clock starts again.  The doctors who did the mice research recommend fasting 12-16 hours before and during the flight then eat a healthy meal once you land, as soon as is convenient.  Drink lots of water during the flight though!  If you want to eat on plane pre-order “low sodium” meal to prevent dehydration.

Earthing: walk outside on a natural surface for 20 – 30 minutes with bare feet.  The theory here is that the earth has a rhythm and by grounding yourself in the new time zone, your rhythm will match the earth’s rhythm in the new time zone.  I have colleagues who swear by this.  I think it sounds lovely to squish your toes in the sand or lay on the grass and become present to the new surroundings.

Supplements: An adrenal support in the morning of new time zone can help increase morning cortisol.  Then take phosphatidyl serine 3 hours before the new bedtime and again at the new bedtime to help decrease nighttime cortisol.  This resets the cortisol rhythm to the new time zone.  These are available at Boise Natural Health Clinic.

May you have wonderful travels with little jet lag interference.  Feel free to come in for a tune up as well to prepare for your best trip yet.