In this modern day, we fly and travel across multiple time zones.
Regardless of the extra legroom in economy or the ability to stretch out and sleep through the night in business / first class, once you land at your destination, you begin to experience jet lag within a few days.
Mild or full on, it’s common yet annoying. It causes sleep depletion, digestive problems, cognitive fuzziness, and disruption to the immune system. Some would say it’s similar to the results of being stuck with listening to that person who has no clue when to shut up in the meeting.
What Is Jet Lag
Jet lag, is also known by other names like Time Zone Change Syndrome or Desynchronosis. It temporarily disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living creatures to balance their internal systems in both day and night cycles.
Simply put, it’s your internal body clock or sleep-wake cycle.
This is critical to your health as it is a key role in regulating your body temperature, brain waves, hormonal balance, metabolism, and health in cellular levels. For example, in a regular healthy sleep-wake cycle, the secretion of hormones such as cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and melatonin are balanced. This makes an impact on controlling your appetite so you don’t crave for food or overeat, stay alert at work, and have a better mood during the day, as well as better sleep at night. Yes. It is ironic that good sleep helps you get good sleep. Life’s funny that way.
However, during travel and jet lag, the sleep-wake cycle gets disrupted and hormone production is mostly out of place. Once this starts, dehydration, food cravings, mood irritation, digestive issues, brain fog, and muscle pain all slowly roll into a snowballing effect compounding on each other.
Not Exclusive To Travellers
Sorry to say, but jet lag isn’t exclusive just to travellers. Shift workers also own this. As studies have shown, their long-term elevated stress hormone cortisol leads to components of the metabolic syndrome which has been associated with increased incidences of obesity and other features of the metabolic syndrome, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance. Ultimately, this leads to an increased opportunity of cardiovascular disease. And that’s just one additional stress we do not need.
If you think you’re in the safety zone as a non-shift worker or traveller, thinking you can have a free pass to stay up 3 - 4 hours later than usual... you’ve essentially crossed time zones for a night. And if you practice less sleep every weekend, that not only causes you travel through different time zones and experience jet lag on Mondays, it also affects your Blood-Brain-Barrier function.
This explains why parents with newborns experience jet lag-like symptoms and similar health issues. If traveling with newborns or toddlers, that just adds extra weight to those parents... so, be easy on them.
Ways To Combat
Light is a major modulator. As a frequent flyer, you’ll know flying east across time zones is more difficult than flying west. This is because crossing to the east shortens the days while traveling west lengthens them. It means your sleep-wake cycle needs to do more to catch up.
- Align yourself with natural light of sunrise and sunset, you can start with inducing unfiltered morning sunlight on your skin for as short as 10 mins.
- If it’s freezing cold in your destination, it’s ok to wrap yourself up unless you are there for iceman training. Just make sure you still get sunlight exposure on your face. This helps send signals to your brain regulating that sleep-wake cycle.
- Note that filtered sunlight, such as standing in front of a window, reduces the chance to absorb the beneficial properties of sunlight such as Vitamin D, boosts immunity in T Cells, lower blood pressure as nitric oxide on top of the skin layer reacts to sunlight and widen the blood vessels and so on. Though you might not be getting as much beneficial properties from the sun directly when staying indoors, opening the curtains during the day and letting the natural light into the hotel room helps enhance your mood and stay alert from morning to afternoon.
- Don’t forget to get some midday sunlight outdoors as it helps produce serotonin, which serotonin turns into the sleep hormone melatonin later in the evening.
- Electrolyte (Sodium, Potassium)
- Forget the colorful energy drinks. A simple as a glass of water with a dash of high quality salt mixed along with lime or lemon juice helps you rehydrated and regain energy.
- A banana or tomato juice is also packed with potassium, which helps blood pressure and muscle contraction. They aren’t only good for hydration but also help bowel movement during those trying bouts of jet lag.
- Glutathione & Multivitamin
- B12 Methylcobalamin
Helps to support the normal conversion of homocysteine to methionine, cognitive health, and increased healthy energy levels. It’s a good way to keep your body alert and energized without artificial energy drinks.
You can source them from organ meats, shellfish, eggs or consume from supplements directly.
Helps to support your immune health and free-radical defense, an essential during traveling.
You can source them from foods such as cruciferous vegetables or its precursors include asparagus, potatoes, peppers, carrots, avocados, squash, spinach, and melons. You can also consume it from supplements directly.
- Niacinamide Riboside (NR)
NAD is an essential coenzyme helping mitochondria produce energy. NR helps increase NAD levels as they decline over time and under stress, which contribute to changes in health.
NR is a uniquely valuable form of vitamin B3 that increases NAD, the central regulator of metabolism.You can source it from Tru Niagen, the only FDA approved and patented NR on the market.
- Electromagnetic Fields - EMF
It’s been a bit controversial about EMF exposure affecting sleep quality as well as general health conditions. (If you’re already EMF sensitive, you know what we’re talking about here)
According to Dr. Pilla’s long research, Low power electromagnetic fields such as micro radiation from cellphones, bluetooth, and wifi are possible sources that affect the human body indirectly. EMFs affect voltage-gated calcium channels in less than 5 seconds and cause oxidative stress.
You clearly don’t want to wrap yourself in tin-foil or wear full EMF lined suits on the plane, not to mention attempting to call your favorite telecom company to turn off public wi-fi. I mean, we barely want to call them for simple tech support.
Here are more tolerable steps you can take for a better night sleep.
- Keep phones on airplane mode
- Turn off wi-fi connection in your hotel room or your house at night
- Charge electronic devices away from your bed
- Use wired earphones instead of bluetooth
- Unplug most electronics near your bed before going to sleep.
- Night Light
- When it comes to night time, reducing blue light and overhead light exposure. Using yellow-orange lighting or red light helps reduce stress levels.
- Red light is ideal for evenings as it has a low color temperature, far lower than regular sunlight.
- Melatonin or GABA
- Melatonin is a sleep hormone, it tells your body it’s time to wind down and be ready for sleep. Over-the-counter Melatonin supplements can be a good strategy. A small dose before bed or on overnight flights helps you fall asleep easily.
- If you are the one who wakes up groggy with Melatonin the next morning or doesn’t quite get the right kind of sleep, try taking Lypospheric GABA instead. GABA enables the body and mind to relax and fall asleep, and sleep soundly throughout the night. In some studies have shown low GABA activity in the body is linked to insomnia and disrupted sleep. However, the molecules of GABA are generally too large to go through the Blood Brain Barrier (if you don’t have leaky brain), here comes Lyposhperic GABA which molecule size is smaller and able to cross the BBB easier.
- CBD, Terpenes, and Essential Oil
- CBD is known for modulating homeostasis in so many ways. It helps you focus during the day and relax at night. It is commonly used to address anxiety, and for those who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
*For traveling, Hemp-derived CBD might reduces the inconvenience when crossing borders than Marijauna-derived CBD. In some countries, it requires to have “CBD Cannabidiol” or “Hemp-derived CBD” printed on product labels.Check with the customs to make sure the CBD products that you have are safe to go cross borders.
- Essential oils such as Lavender or Copaiba contain therapeutic properties and terpenes such as Linalool or Beta-caryophyllene.
- Terpenes are the scents that you smell from fruits, plants, and essential oil. Cannabinoid benefits are improved by the addition of multiple cannabinoids and terpenes. Your sense of smell (olfactory process) is intricately linked to emotion and memory centers in the brain.
- One of the most widely used terpenes is Linalool which can be found in Lavender. Beta-caryophyllene can be found in Copaiba which directly interact with CB2 receptor in order to release muscle pain or headache.
If you have no access to any CBD products, lavender or copaiba essential oils are good alternatives for pain relief and reducing anxiety before bed.
- Hydrating and Nourishing Mask
No questions asked! Jet lag interrupts hormone production and your energy on cellular levels, making a huge impact on your skin condition. In order to stay glam & glow, nourished the skin barrier by delivering nutrients outside in. This is an essential aid, especially if you have a meeting or event to attend soon after your arrival.
Food is a circadian cue. Not only that, most of the in-flight food is packed with processed oils, starch, and sodium (due to the way our taste buds work when we’re in the air). Fasting is a method used by biohackers and naturopathic doctors.
You can simply skip the meal or consume a small amount of your own prepared food on the plane until your arrival.
This free and handy technique improves left and right brain coherence while the body relaxes. Do this as the first thing in the morning and once before dinner in the evening to help reduce your stress, regulate hormones, and minimize anxiety in order to have better energy throughout the day and sleep at night.
Research & Resource
- Using the Argonne diet in jet lag prevention: deployment of troops across nine time zones
- The Improvement of Sleep by Oral Intake of GABA and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract.
- Nicotinamide riboside is uniquely and orally bioavailable in mice and humans
- Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature
- Dr. Martin Pall, Electromagnetic field exposures
- Dr. Pilla, Electromagnetic fields instantaneously modulate nitric oxide signaling in challenged biological systems.
- World Health Organisation , Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones