Here are my top natural tips to support Jet Lag
By Kyle Buchanan
New cities, new foods, new beaches, new friends…travel is pretty awesome. To be able to get on a plane in one city, and exit that same plane in a brand new land, that’s a pretty incredible thing! The one teensy-weensy annoying part of this fantastic experience? Jet lag.
Alright . . . maybe not so teensy-weensy. Jet lag can be a huge pain, especially if you’re dealing with a big-time difference. This past year I was lucky enough to travel to Vancouver, Greece and lastly France (to visit Boiron HQ!) and they were all wonderful experiences. But they all had their own time jumps from where I live in Toronto and subsequently, it took some time adjusting in each city. Many big yawns were had.
In a way, adjusting to jet lag is a similar experience to stepping off one of those walking escalators in the airport. You know the ones – those flat, moving belts that make you feel like a superhero speed-walking down the terminal? It’s all fun and cool until you have to step off of it, find your footing, keep walking AND try to look graceful doing it (which, if you’re like me, is rarely successful).
Jet lag can be a drag, for sure. But if you know me, I always like finding solutions whenever and wherever I can. And so, I might have just found some strategies when it comes to hacking jet lag. So let’s quickly go over what jet lag is, some common symptoms, and then we’ll dive into the tips!
What causes Jet Lag?
Jet lag happens when your body’s circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock) gets thrown out of whack and disrupted as a result of changing time zones quickly. And as your circadian rhythm regulates a lot of things in your body – including your sleep/wake cycle, hormone production, body temperature and digestion, when it gets thrown for a loop, it only makes sense that you get thrown for a bit of a loop as well.
Symptoms of jet lag do vary depending on the amount of time zones crossed and the time difference you are experiencing, but it also depends on individual factors like age, health and your regular sleep habits. With that said, common symptoms can include fatigue (which is the one I experience the most), insomnia, headaches, irritability and gastrointestinal problems. What fun! Good news, there are things we can do to support our system so we don’t let jet lag get the better of us.
Five Effective Tips to Combat Jet Lag
1. If you can, adjust your sleep schedule before you go
This is for those who want to do this thing right. Studies have shown that gradually shifting your sleep schedule a few days before your trip can help reduce the effects of jet lag.1 It should be noted this is more beneficial for longer trips than shorter trips (i.e., one week or longer).
This concept makes sense, as you’re slowly adjusting into your new time zone, instead of changing it all in one day.
How to: For each hour change, it normally takes your body one day to adjust. So for whatever length of time change you’re about to incur, use those same number of hours in days leading up to your trip (ex. 2-hour time difference = 2 days before your trip), and on these days, try going to bed and waking up one half to one hour earlier or later than usual, depending on which direction you’re travelling. Then gradually shift your schedule until you’re on the same sleep schedule as your destination. **I do realize this is not necessarily realistic, but any sleep adjustments in the days leading up to travel will be helpful!
2. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag, and as flying can dehydrate you anyway, it’s extra important to stay hydrated before, during, and after your flight. Studies have shown that drinking plenty of water can help reduce the symptoms of jet lag, including fatigue and headaches.2
How to: Make sure to drink up before the flight, and then on the flight aim for 8 ounces of water for every hour you fly (easier said than done with those small cups, I realize) and then get a large bottle of water to consume after you fly. Herbal teas count too!
3. Try this NEW homeopathic by Boiron
When it comes to jet lag itself, there’s a new homeopathic that I’m really excited about. It was recently launched in the states, but is now joining the Boiron Canada Lineup! It’s called Cocculus Indicus Compose*, and it’s been formulated to help relieve temporary disorders associated with jet lag, like fatigue, sleep disturbances, nervousness, headache and digestive disorders. All of those lovely symptoms I just talked about!! And as it’s a homeopathic and a natural health product, it’s a safe choice for the whole family (ages 1 and up). It’s non-drowsy and is a combination of these four homeopathic medicinal ingredients: chamomilla vulgaris (15 CH), cocculus indicus (15 CH), magnesia muriatica (15 CH) and nux moschata (15 CH).
What I do: Dissolve 5 pellets under the tongue the day before travel, again on the day just before getting on the plane, and then at the onset of jet lag symptoms at the destination, I’ll repeat 3 times a day until the symptoms dissipate.
4. Side bar: If you get muscle tension on flights . . .
If you’re one to get muscle and joint tension from sitting on a plane for hours at a time, the other homeopathic that I’ve travelled with for years is Arnica, which is a go-to when it comes to muscle and joint pain. It’s such a popular ingredient that Boiron has a whole Arnicare Line* to choose from, all of which is made from (among other medicinal ingredients) freshly harvested Arnica to capture the quality of its therapeutic properties, which relieve muscles and joint pain, swelling and bruising. I actually saw part of this process in real time when I visited Boiron’s production facility in Lyon, France – and it was truly impressive to see the meticulous nature in which they prepare and process the fresh Arnica.
What I do: Personally, on long flights – I normally carry Arnica pellets with me, in addition to the Arnicare Gel. For the Arnicare tablets: dissolve 2 tablets under the tongue when symptoms appear, and then 2 more times throughout the day if needed, then reduce until improvement. For the gel or creams: apply a thin layer on the affected area and massage gently. Repeat up to 3 times a day.
5. At your destination, get morning sunlight!
One of the best ways to support your circadian rhythm anywhere, home or abroad, is to get morning sunlight as close to waking up as possible. When you do this, it helps to signal your body that it’s time to ‘wake up’, and also helps support a better night’s sleep.3 You can think of it as a circadian rhythm reset at your new destination! 4
How to: When you’re at your new location, the first morning you wake up (and ideally, subsequent mornings), get outside and expose yourself to natural sunshine. It goes without saying, but please don’t look directly at the sun. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes if it’s sunny, and 20-30 minutes if it’s cloudy.
*Note: If you travel to a location where it’s very dark, or you’ll wake before the sun, consider bringing a portable light therapy lamp and using it for 20 minutes upon awakening. Or, if you don’t feel like packing one, turn as many lights on in the room as you can when you wake up.
6. Move, move, move!
We know exercise is good for us, but who thought it would be good for jet lag too! It can help in a few ways. One, it can help regulate the body’s circadian system, which we know gets disrupted when we change time zones. 5. Two, exercise helps to boost endorphins, which can help improve mood and reduce feelings of fatigue associated with jet lag. And lastly, exercise can help promote better sleep, which is crucial in helping the body adjust to a new time zone.6
How to: on the day of your arrival, or the day following – get moving! Explore your new city by going for a brisk walk, maybe use the hotel gym to do some resistance training, or simply put on some calming music and do some yoga poses!
Trips always fly by – I think it’s fair to say that we do want to make as much out of our time away as we can. We DESERVE it. So why not do what we can to lessen any obstacles, like jet lag, that might dampen our epic experience. Of course, honour your system when it’s time to rest and adjust, but if there are a few tips and tweaks we can apply to make it an easier experience, why not!
Have a great trip! And if there’s an extra room let me know 😉
* These homeopathic medicines may not be right for everyone. Always read and follow the label.
About the author:
Kyle Buchanan is a licensed nutritionist, writer, host of the feelgoodery podcast and is a Resident Wellness Expert on Canada’s The Morning Show, which airs weekday mornings on Global Television. He has a passion for spreading holistic health and wellness advice to as many as possible; from television audiences and conference attendees to online readers and video watchers. He also has his own private practice, working with clients worldwide on their journey to feeling their absolute best. For more information, check out www.kylebuchanan.ca or his Instagram page!