A few years ago when I flew to India across 10 time zones, I felt the effects of jet lag for days: I was groggy, irritable, hungry, tired, and sensitive to every noise, light, and smell in the environment. Luckily, I stayed for a few months so it did not ruin the trip, but it was definitely a tough first few days.
Throughout twelve years of investigating wellness, I have come across a few interesting remedies for jet lag, and I wish to share them here. I am not sure they are scientifically proven; in fact, I am not sure if any jet lag remedy has been investigated rigorously. So, try these for yourself if you’d like, and let me know if they help!
The first method for combating jet lag is grounding, or “earthing.” Essentially, you take off your shoes as soon as possible after landing, find a section of earth, and stand on it for 20 minutes or more. Again, I cannot provide a scientific basis for why this might work, but earthing has been shown to improve sleep, blood oxygenation, blood viscosity, cortisol dynamics, heart rate variability, autonomic nervous system balance, and immune response while also reducing pain, anxiety, irritability, and inflammation (1). At any rate, earthing may help to relieve some of the stress that comes with traveling thousands of miles and assist in recalibrating the body’s systems.
A second method to overcome jet lag is by practicing inversions. If you practice yoga asanas regularly, as soon as you get off the plane, find a patch of grass and do a headstand like my little nephew Tommy B above! Even if you do not practice asanas regularly, you can find a wall, scooch up to it, and place both legs on the wall while your lower back remains flush with the floor and your head rests gently on the ground, a rolled up towel, or small pillow.
A third method which may help alleviate the symptoms of jet lag is an exercise/napping protocol. I learned this method from a doctor I used to shadow; he traveled extensively for work and told me it proved useful for him. He would take a 30 minute nap in the afternoon; no longer than 30 minutes is the key. After landing, he would exercise moderately. After exercise, he would then take a nap. Upon awaking, he would start exercising moderately again. When night came, he would sleep at a regular hour.
In theory, finding a good patch of grass to do handstands on after landing is ideal, and then taking a nap under a tree after the inversion-oriented asana routine will ensure the recalibrating of your circadian rhythm to the new time zone. In reality, I am not really sure if this works for everyone, or anyone for that matter. But, its definitely worth a shot, and is better than many days of sluggishness and irritability.
Many articles have been written on this topic, by random folks like me, psychologists, and even sleep doctors. Check out the sources below for more info on overcoming jet lag. Let me know what works for you!
1) Gaétan Chevalier, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, and Pawel Sokal, “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012 (2012), Article ID 291541, 8 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/291541.
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*Originally posted on my old website which no longer exists, riverbearfitness.com.