Jet lag’s for the birds. But… birds never get jet lag. Even though they fly huge distances across wide varieties of time zones, they travel slowly enough for their bodies to adjust along the way.
We, on the other hand, cover thousands of miles in just a few short hours and leave our bodies straining to catch up. Jet lag is the very real (if temporary) disorder that means your body and its internal clock (your circadian rhythm) are out of sync due to this high-speed time-zone traverse.
Fun fact: Knowing if you’re an early bird (most productive in the morning) or a night owl (most productive at night) can actually help to minimize jet lag. Early birds feel most directionally groovy heading west to east; whereas night owls cruise at optimal capacity east to west.
Wait, there’s more! 75% of people find it easier to fly east to west, with the other 25% claiming greater ease flying west to east. Next time you fly, consider which category do you fall into.
As for me, I’m definitely an east to west kind of woman. Still, for ages the story of my life was figuring out how to beat jet lag. In the early days I swung between the extremes – from sleeping to not sleeping, healthy eating to fasting, chugging water versus popping a sleeping pill. As shared in my previous post, my muse for Local Time, my background in holistic nutrition inspired me to start formulating flying-specific nutrient blends that worked best for my body.
First and foremost, adopt the Flight Pack into your travel wellness ritual to support your body with its plant-based nutrients formulated for flying. And, there’s a lot more you can do to maximize their nourishing effects and skip the jet lag.
Here are my top tips and strategies to beat jet lag before, during and after you fly:
- Bank the basics.
Get some exercise, a good night’s sleep and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Take your dose of defend formula to support your body’s resilience, which contains immunity and anti-microbial boosters like Cats Claw, Elderberry and Astragalus (to name just a few).
- Avoid the red eye.
If possible, book a daytime flight so you can get a solid night’s sleep before and after.
- Adjust your sleep cycle.
If it’s in the realm of possibility, adjust your bedtime four to five days prior to create a gentler shift on your system. If you are flying east to west go to bed an hour later every night, and if you are flying west to east, go to bed an hour earlier.
- Hydrate like a boss.
I can’t emphasize the benefits of hydration enough. The dry, recirculated air inflight saps your body of fluids, and dehydration one of the biggest culprits behind jet lag. The more water you drink on the flight, the better you’ll feel on arrival, guaranteed. Bring your own reusable bottle and ask for a water refill whenever the drink cart comes around.
- Stick to water (or juice).
It’s tempting to reach for that in-flight cocktail, but don’t do it. Alas, alcohol will dehydrate you, kick your liver into overtime and delay your ability to adjust to the new time zone. Same with soda or caffeine, both of which undermine your hydration agenda.
Water is always best. But if you must choose something else to stay sane, make it a juice. Fruit juices get points for containing the immunity-boosting properties of vitamin C, and the high potassium in most can help maintain healthy water balance in your system.
- Prioritize rest.
If you’re on a red eye, take the rest formula soon after taking off, which includes Valerian root, California Poppy, Tremella and Melatonin (among others) to helps your body’s circadian rhythm adjust to new time zones.
As tempting as it is to clandestinely catch up on all the latest rom-com’s, don’t do it. I usually squeeze in a run or early morning yoga class before a long flight to ensure I’m physically tired enough not to get restless.
- Wear an eye mask +.
Maybe even one that says: Do Not Disturb. Ideally, have some earplugs and a neck rest. Remove your shoes for a more comfortable sleeping experience. Whatever it takes to get some shut eye.
- Move more.
Get up and pace the aisles, move your ankles, stretch your arms, do some simple twists in your seat. Just get the blood flowing. This will avoid swollen feet and ankles, but more importantly, it will prevent deep vein thrombosis. This is an accumulation of blood in the legs that can lead to blood clots and swelling, and can happen on long flights from lack of circulation due to extended periods of immobility.
- Take nutrients to rest and rise.
One hour before bed, take a second rest formula, which contains 3 mg of melatonin. The melatonin signals to your brain that it is time to sleep, and is key to getting your circadian rhythm back on track. The formula’s herbal alchemy combines to support a long and restful sleep. When you wake up, take one rise formula to activate your energy and mental acuity, with contains Lion's Mane, Ashwagandha, Astragalus and Siberian Ginseng among other herbal activators.
2. Seek the sunshine.
As soon as you arrive, get as much daylight as you can and do your best to go outside when the sun goes down. This will signal to your brain that night is coming and with that sleep.
Get sunlight on your face first thing in the morning for a couple of days after you arrive. Your eyes will register the daytime and signal your body to wake up. Natural light is also vital because it activates melatonin production for later in the day, which makes you sleepy.
3. Avoid blue screens at night.
You want your eyes – those messengers to your body – to think that it is nighttime. Screen time with blue light (phone, laptop and TV) signals your body it’s still daytime. If you must, I highly recommend blue light blocker glasses (@truedark). Helping your body adjust to the new time zone can start with wearing sunglasses in the morning if you are traveling east, or in the afternoon if you are travelling west.
4. Sync your meals to the new time zone.
If you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, avoid eating as this can confuse your organs which are also on a clock. Fill up instead with a glass of water (hydrating like a boss!).
5. Get outside and move.
Get your circulation going after your flight by going for a walk, run, bike ride or yoga class – whatever sustained movement suits your style. Again, the natural light exposure helps your body adjust to the new time zone.
6. Resist the temptation to nap.
This can be a challenge, but it really helps me get used to the new time zone. If possible, avoid over-scheduling on your first day to keep a calmer rhythm. Instead, try sitting for a five to 15 minute meditation, closing your eyes and breathing deeply to oxygenate. Make a sincere effort to go to bed at your normal time.
Once these practices become part of your travel wellness ritual, they’ll feel like second nature. Cue the post-flight glow.