Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to (really) avoid jetlag


Several of the Blue Rose Girls have been traveling lately: Grace is in Hong Kong, Alvina was in Italy, I'm in Scotland, and our long-lost Linda was in Israel. So since no one has been posting much lately I am describing the five-step plan for avoiding jetlag.

I've heard of various methods:
  •  always be exhausted, so you sleep wherever you are -- this was what a work-aholic boss always did
  • drink a lot -- "Works for me!" a builder/pirate-fighter (really) on the island said cheerfully
  • follow the anti jet lag developed by the US Air Force.
These are the five steps that worked for me, starting with the Air Force diet.  I slept for 12 hours the first night  and did not have ANY jetlag at all after that, thanks, I am convinced, to this five-step plan developed by trial and error over the years.

1. My version of the USAF anti-jet lag diet
The science behind this diet is that your liver plays a big role in setting your body's internal clock -- how and why this is, and how these foods play into that, I don't know. I just know it works.

How you do this varies depending upon whether you are going East (it's later at your destination) or West (it's earlier).This is the going East version.

 Five days before the flight (counting the flight day as day 5), alternately feast and feast.
 They said no caffeine, but I had white tea. They said no alcohol, but I had wine with dinner two of the feast nights -- two glasses. They said to start 4 days before the flight, but I started 5....and I drank as much water as I could stomach every day, especially the day of the flight.

The details:
Day 1, fast -- MY version of fasting is to have liquids (berry smoothies and green drinks) or salad (baby greens with an avocado: no cheese, no meat) and a light supper of cooked vegetables or eggs
Day 2, feast -- high protein breakfast AND dinner (avoid carbs both days), lots of water
Day 3 -- fast
Day 4 -- feast, and on THIS day, have a dinner that is high in both protein and healthy carbs.
Day 5 (the day of the flight) -- fast: smoothie for breakfast, salad or nothing for lunch, salad for dinner (a bit of protein with it if you wish), and as much water as you can drink.

2. The day of the flight:
Get a massage. It's a nice treat and in my case, I think it really helped.

3. On the plane:
If it's a red-eye, try to sleep -- and drink as much water as you can. No alcohol on the plane!

4. Wherever you are (on the plane, at your destination) when it's wake-up time at your destination:
Have caffeinated tea or coffee. Remember, the destination time zone is the time zone to use for this.

Have a high-protein breakfast at that time, too.

5. First day at the destination:
Stay up until bedtime -- and walk around a lot, outside, in the morning. Morning light helps you adjust to your destination time if you're traveling East.

If you are really really tired, take a nap at around 4 (no earlier or all your efforts will have been wasted). Sometimes I take a short nap in the afternoon but this time I did not and I think you adjust much faster if you just stay up. This time, I stayed up until 9.30 -- and slept for 12 hours!!!

I admit that one reason I was able to do this is that I got an absolutely hideous haircut and the drama, stress, and sight of it kept the adrenaline flowing. Perhaps you can add a little stress to your first day and let that keep you up.

Continue to drink as much water as you can.

Is it worth it?
To me, definitely.  I'd take the bother of the diet -- which is simpler than it may sound -- over feeling out of it and off for the first two weeks. It's true that I was completely incompetent and out of it the first day -- but when I woke up after having slept soundly for twelve hours that was worth it, too.

From then on, I was on local time.

What's worked for you? And if you try this, will you report back on how it worked for you?


Nandini said...

Great tips! My trips tend to be 20+ hours of flight time--from Boston to Australia or India--so jetlag is a given. The stay up till bedtime in the new time-zone really works for me. It also helps if I land during daylight hours. Have to try the feast and fast regime!!

Noetic said...

Like Nandini, I used to do a lot of East/West travel (Sydney-London or Sydney-LA). This really worked for me:

Starting 6 hours before embarkation, and ending 6 hours after disembarking, take two arnica tablets and one chamomile tablet.

I combined these with as much sleep on the aircraft as possible, departing early evening whenever possible (and I did not have to avoid alcohol or endure other privations, food or other otherwise, on the flight).