Thursday, September 8, 2011
How To Prevent Jet Lag Naturally
Looking for a jet lag cure? Here are some of the best natural remedies you can use to prevent jet lag.
I travel overseas quite a bit and I know what it's like to suffer from jet lag. The crazy sleeping schedules, hitting a brick wall in the middle of the day and feeling like you just can't go on. I've experienced it a lot.
That's why I started looking for jet lag cures. The best remedies for jet lag involve doing something to prevent it during the trip. Here are some natural remedies I use and one I've never used that I hear works great.
Harvard Medical School researchers have found that there are two biological clocks in mice. One works according to light. The second works according to meal times. When you travel long distances in a plane the light clock gets all messed up, but when you're quite hungry the meal time clock can override the light clock.
Fasting for 16 hours is enough to override your light clock. If you fast until the end of your trip and eat your first meal when you arrive at your destination at a normal meal time, your body will adjust to the new time much faster. Considering how bad airplane food is you won't be missing much by fasting.
Dehydration makes jet lag worse. Planes are dry and I find that they don't really give you enough to drink on the plane. Staying hydrated will help you feel better once you land. Drinking water will hydrate you much more effectively than drinking sodas or juice. Everytime that drink cart comes around get some water. Ask for more water between drink times. Your neighbor may not like you getting crawling over their lap for the toilet all the time, but you'll feel much better when you land.
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule
During your trip keep the same sleeping and wake schedule as your destination. If you'll land in the evening, don't sleep on the plane. If you land in the morning be sure to sleep during the flight.
The first day at your destination, you'll likely be tired. Try your best not to nap. If you do nap don't nap any longer than 30 minutes. Stay up until a reasonable time at night so that when you do sleep you'll be able to sleep through the whole night. Trying your best to keep a sleeping schedule that matches your destination will help you overcome your jet lag more quickly.
Once you arrive at your destination exercise in the mornings, preferably outside in the sun. Exercise will help get your body going for the day and increase your energy.
Exposure to sunlight also helps reset your body clock. Try to spend a lot of time outside in the sun on your first day at your destination.
Melatonin is a well known jet lag cure. This chemical is naturally produced by your brain to make you sleepy. Traveling over time zones throws your melatonin production out of whack. You can purchase melatonin in a pill form from most health food stores. I've never tried this jet lag cure, but I hear it works wonderfully. Once you get to your destination take melatonin for half the number of nights as time zones you crossed. If you crosed 4 time zones you'd take melatonin for 2 nights. You should take the lowest dose possible--1 mg or even less. The melatonin works in about 30 minutes to put you to sleep. Take the melatonin at night and stay awake all day and you should be able to get rid your jet leg in no time.
What to Avoid
Don't drink alcohol on your flight. Alcoholic beverages dehydrate you even more and could make your jet lag worse.
Avoid caffeine and sugar. Both give you temporary energy followed by a crash. This doesn't help your body's clock to adjust one bit. Using these substances to give you energy when you're tired will only prolong your jet lag.
Some people take sleep pills on flights to help avoid jet lag. This can be dangerous because sleeping pills cause your body to go into an unnatural state where you sleep with very little movement. Moving around while you sleep is very important on a flight because not moving your legs can cause deadly blood clots to form in them. Sleeping pills also dehydrate you.
Standing hydrated, keep a normal sleep schedule, and eating right are your best bet.
Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter