Ask the Expert – Beat Jet Lag

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Tavarua Island, V5N10, insert yourself

Q: I’m flying to Australia soon, and I’m a little bugged out about the ridiculously long flight. I want to be on top of my game upon arrival and ready to rip-not jet lagged and ready for bed. Can you offer any tips for staying healthy during extended hauls?

Mike
Long Island, New York

Jet leg is no joke; it’s a reality. According to our friends at NASA, on average, for every hour of time zone you fly through, it takes as long as one day for your body to return to its normal rhythm. Be thankful you’re not an astronaut. But still, that’s trouble for globetrotting surfers, who routinely fly more than seven hours in a stretch (and sometimes more than twenty) to chase waves. Luckily, there’re a few quick and easy ways to combat the vicious cycle known as jet lag before it starts. Dr. Tim Brown tells us how.

A:

Every morning, when sunlight greets your eyes, your natural clock (with the help of your pineal gland), is reset and the cycle begins again. But when this cycle is broken, it can cause fatigue, irritability, and insomnia (a.k.a. jet lag).
Like many things in nature, jet lag is an individual thing. Some hardly feel it, and for others, it can turn into an ongoing problem as some folks’ clocks are more sensitive and difficult to reset. Most people fall somewhere in between. Bottom line: travel taxes your body and adds stress to your overall health picture. Anything that minimizes that stress will benefit you short- and long-term.
Drinking alcohol and coffee can really dehydrate you when traveling-water is king here.
Be sensitive to what your body is telling you and give it what it wants! Prior to the journey and during (when safe), eat natural, unprocessed, fresh food-it’s easier to digest and way better for your energy and recovery.
Take supplements, like a good multivitamin daily, and have extra support such as Emergen-C, antioxidant formula, Airborne, etc. Also, try melatonin, as it’s one of the natural chemicals your body uses to set your internal clock.
Simple breathing can also supercharge your immune system and reduce travel stress: take ten breaths through your nose-four counts in, hold for seven counts, then exhale for eight for each breath.
Set your watch to the new destination’s correct time right when you board the plane. From there, try to keep sleep patterns as close to normal as possible in the new time zone.