Jet lag isn’t so fun, so any tips or tricks to help reduce its negative effects on the body and mind are worth exploring.
Jet lag comes about because of the disturbance to our inner biological rhythms.
The body’s myriad systems find it confusing and disorientating when we move through time zones and disrupt the cycles of light and dark.
Flying and travelling such vast distances in relatively short times puts the body under a great deal of stress. We have not had enough evolutionary time to adjust ourselves to the realities of air travel.
While we are unlikely to eliminate the effects of jet lag completely, we can reduce negative signs and symptoms with a few simple tips and tricks.
Here are 16 natural ways that I have researched and tried to help reduce jet lag.
Pre-flight (the day before)
If you are hydrated at take-off, you will start your journey well and potentially reduce the after-effects of a long flight. I advise going to the chemist and getting a hydration formula or something similar. Have one or two hydration formula drinks the day before you travel. Avoid alcohol the day before.
2. Get quality snacks for the flight.
Avoid white bready stuff. Try and find protein sources like nuts, and for sweets, go for dried fruits.
3. Do at least a 30-minute yoga or stretch class.
(Try YouTube if you can’t manage to get to a class or studio.)
4. Do a strong resistance (weight) training session and/or go for a 30-minute run or jog the day before.
I find this practice helps a lot, because the day after any training session, the body wants to rest and repair. When we get on that plane, the body actually rejoices at the notion of sitting still and not doing much. This approach can really help people who (like me) have a tendency to feel stuck, with energy stagnating when on planes.
During the flight
5. Use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to reduce excessive auditory stress.
6. Try binaural beat audio mediations.
These can be really helpful, because they “massage” the brain and nervous system, helping it to adjust and relax. Putting on an eye mask and listening to binaural beat audio meditation at the time when you would normally be going to bed will help the body and brain to find states similar to sleep.
7. Keep hydrating, and avoid alcohol or coffee.
If you drink a glass of wine most nights, you may benefit from having just one glass of wine or beer to help you sleep and relax. If you do that, however, make the extra effort to hydrate by consuming another one or two hydration formulas, as well as having water close by.
8. Avoid white bread and white rice.
These have a tendency to fill us up, but they make our digestion sluggish, which can lead to constipation and discomfort. To keep your body feeling light and your digestion functioning well, avoid white bread, pasta and white rice.
Being stuck in a small seat, flying through the sky at 20,000 feet, is actually a good time to meditate. Meditation is neither exotic nor complex. All you do its close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Observe each breath come in and observe it go out. That is all.
10. Using essential oils like lavender, frankincense, rose, chamomile or vanilla can help us to relax and reduce stress on the nervous system.
11. Tap acupressure points at least once or twice during the flight to stimulate the energy moving through the meridians.
When the meridians are stimulated they will automatically work to reorganize themselves into a more balanced state. To trigger this reaction, all you have to do is tap the points 10-20 taps per point before moving on. Ideally do three rounds. The most common feeling after tapping acupressure points is a deep sighing breath, a more relaxed feeling in the body, and a steadier, calmer mind. Here is a picture of the main acupressure points. You simply tap the points with one hand moving from the top of the head to the rib cage or hand and then repeat 3 times.
After the Flight
12. When you’ve arrived at your destination, avoid sleeping in the morning if you can.
Wait till at least the afternoon to sleep. The closer you can get to sunset, the better – it will help the body to adjust to the new day and night cycles.
13. Hydrate again and eat wholesome foods.
Have another one or two hydration formulas to support the body’s efforts to find some balance once again. Providing it with the essentials, like quality water and a boost of key vitamins and minerals, will increase the speed at which the body can regain its balance.
14. Listen to 30 minutes of binaural beats or yoga nidra audio mediation.
20-30 minutes of resting while listening to binaural beats or yoga nidra is equivalent to 3-5 hours of deep sleep.
15. Legs up the wall.
In yoga language it’s called “Viparita Karani”. It simply involves bringing your butt close to the wall, then rolling onto your back and sliding the legs go up the wall. You can adjust your distance from the wall to find help you find the sweet spot where you can settle and relax. Ideally stay for 10-20 minutes to gain the most benefit from this posture. It has a very powerful effect on all of the body’s systems and will naturally induce a relaxed state.
16. Go for a long walk or a 30-minute jog/run.
Nothing works better than a good walk or light run to shake off any residual feelings of being stuck in a small space with your energy becoming stagnant.
It is not necessary to follow all of these suggestions. I offer them to serve as a guide. Try introducing at least one or two new strategies to deal with jet lag, and eventually you will find the system that works best for you.