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Modern Tips for Alleviating Jet Lag

Modern Tips for Alleviating Jet Lag

Jet lag is one of the greatest challenges for businessmen, sports teams and anyone who needs all their wits about them while traversing time zones at speed. Even a shift of a few hours can upset your body’s internal clock, causing confusion in the part of the brain known as the ‘master circadian clock’.

These nerve cells tell the rest of your body when it’s time for bed, and when they’re in disarray the resulting symptoms of jet lag can vary from a mild hindrance to real performance impairment. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, sweating, nausea and even bowel problems, due to the impacted microbes in our stomachs which also suffer from jet lag.

Various studies completed over the last few years at respected institutions such as the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have shown through work on mice and humans that light and diet play a huge role in whether you suffer jet lag or not – light for the master circadian clock and diet for the stomach based microbes. The research has caused a recent wave of scientific reports, jet lag planning apps, devices and supplements to help you plan your trip while avoiding the potentially debilitating effects of this long endured condition.

We contacted several experts from different fields to get their own views on these developments and how Air Charter Service patrons can best arrive at their destinations fresh and energised.

#1 Lumie Talks Phototherapy

Lumie Talks Phototherapy
Lumie Talks Phototherapy

What is Phototherapy therapy?

Phototherapy, a form of therapy dependent on light, is a natural way to treat specific conditions related to sleep. The science behind it relates to specific wavelengths of light and how they affect your brain during the sleep cycle. When it comes to light, the intensity is the main factor changing the mood of the sleeper. Gentler light is more conducive to feelings of wellbeing and calm, whereas harsh light creates feelings of alertness and, at the far ends of the scale, anxiety. Lumie light therapy products make use of these natural reactions people have to light, and some can also be used in more specific instances to counter the effects of jet lag.

How light therapy can combat jet lag

In order for your body to function efficiently, in a state known as homeostasis, a series of factors have to be accounted for and regulated. Light is one of the more important forms of stimuli in terms of reaching homeostasis when it comes to sleep and restfulness. After a flight, it's critical for a person to try and synchronise their individual homeostatic patterns with that of their new environment.

In regard to intensity, light will therefore have different effects on the body at various times of the day. For example, if an individual has reached a synchronised state with his or her immediate environment, hence sleeping at 11 pm and waking at 7 am on a regular basis; changing the light stimulation will alter that balance. If light stimulation is used in the late evening to early morning, between 10 pm and 4 am, the homeostatic patterns (commonly referred to as a 'body clock') will shift in tandem. This will usually result in the person being able to both sleep and wake up later than usual, and is suggested when flying west. If the light stimulation is used between 5 am and 9 am, it allows the person to be able to sleep and wake earlier than usual and is suggested when flying east. If your body is stimulated with light during the correct times of the day, it will shift the homeostatic patterns of sleep in a different direction (either forward in time or backwards). In order to mitigate the symptoms of jet lag, light therapy should be used to alter the 'body clock' slowly, before the long flight.

Additionally, exposure to light will be able to alter a person's mood both before and after landing. Such a person may experience greater levels of alertness, energy and general feelings of wellbeing.

Your product ‘Zest’ works with light emission to enhance energy, how can this be used to alleviate jet lag?

Lumie recommends using the Jet Lag Optimiser to create a light schedule which is tailored for your trip. The online tool helps to determine the exact times when a person should be using the light therapy units; as well as when those light units should be used to shift the 'body clock' in the desired direction for general wellbeing. This will allow you to have a smooth transition into whichever time zone you're headed to. If you use the Lumie Zest, as prescribed by the Jet Lag Optimiser (usually to enact a 'body clock' shift of one hour per day), it will be possible to reduce the effects of, or even avoid jet lag in its entirety.

A Travel Example:

If you're flying WEST you need to reset your body clock one hour LATER for each time zone you cross.

E.g. Flying from Edinburgh to Montreal means crossing five time zones: five nights before your flight, go to bed one hour later than usual and wake up one hour later than usual. The next night, go to bed and wake up a further hour later. Repeat each night until you fly. It will also help to use a light box in the evening.

If you're flying EAST you need to reset your body clock one hour EARLIER for each time zone you cross.

E.g. The return flight from Montreal to Edinburgh means crossing five time zones: five nights before your flight, go to bed one hour earlier than usual and wake up one hour earlier than usual. The next night, bring bedtime and wake-up time forward by another hour. Repeat each night until you fly. Try to use a light box shortly after you get up.

In the working world, these kinds of changes may not be possible, however, even if the amount of light therapy time is limited to just 30 minutes each day or if the number of days in which the therapy takes place is reduced, the therapy itself will help for partial adaptation to the new time zone.

Gain more insights from Lumie here.

#2 The London Nutritionist and Eating Habits

The London Nutritionist and Eating Habits
The London Nutritionist and Eating Habits

When thinking about minimising the effects of jet lag it could be argued that it's more about the timing of the foods you eat than any specific foods.

Protein causes arousal in the brain whereas carbs are associated with drowsiness, so eating eggs for breakfast and pasta for dinner will help you adjust more quickly. The timing of your meals can be important too. Eating provides cues to the brain, so eating in the middle of the night when it's dark can give mixed signals about the time of day. If you are going away for more than a couple of days it's worth eating at the times of your destination, but for trips shorter than this, sticking to your home schedule might minimise jet lag on your return.

It's easy to become dehydrated on planes and if you are out of routine, and consuming diuretics like caffeinated drinks and alcohol can add to travel fatigue. Making sure you get plenty to drink can help prevent tiredness and expedite jet lag recovery.

Gain more insights from The London Nutritionist here.

#3 Vitasunn Nutrition on Melatonin

Vitasunn Nutrition on Melatonin
Vitasunn Nutrition on Melatonin

How does melatonin impact the effects of jet lag?

Melatonin is simply the hormonal 'messenger' that tells your brain it is time to sleep. If we are exposed to constant artificial light or we rapidly move from one time zone to another, melatonin production is disrupted. Supplemental melatonin can be of great help in restoring the balance and proper sleeping patterns known as the 'circadian rhythm'.

What should people consider before using melatonin?

Mainly that melatonin is not a drug. It does not 'force' you to sleep the way a drug like Ambien (zolpidem) might. Melatonin is gentler. Also, melatonin can cause vivid dreams. Some find this to be uncomfortable if they are not used to experiencing a powerful dream state. As with any supplement that affects your endocrine system or metabolism, melatonin should not be used perpetually unless under a doctor's supervision.

How can melatonin best be applied to aid healthy sleep?

Our customers and travel bloggers report that a combination of fast-release and timed-release melatonin products seem to provide the most effective remedy for the effects of jet lag. Our fastest delivery melatonin is liquid sublingual melatonin by Natrol. Just a dropper-full under the tongue delivers 1mg of melatonin very rapidly and can bring about natural drowsiness in minutes. Combined with a slow-release melatonin like our 3mg Timed Release promotes a full night's restful sleep with healthy REM stages.

Gain more insights from Vitasunn Nutrition here.

#4 The Sleep Guru and Holistic Balance

The Sleep Guru and Holistic Balance
The Sleep Guru and Holistic Balance

From a naturalist’s perspective, how does jet lag affect us?

Flying across time zones affects our 'Circadian Rhythm' which is our internal clock. Our Circadian Rhythm keeps us in rhythm with nature and in particular works with the rise and fall of the sun, or in particular light and dark. By changing the time of our eating, sleeping and waking quickly and drastically, it upsets everything from our sleep to our digestion which is why we often feel dreadful. Our body also has particular times over the 24-hour cycle where our digestion is higher and lower which is part of why our digestion also gets upset with jet lag. One should therefore be light on our digestion after a long flight.

Also according to Ayurveda (a system of natural healing), there will be times when the mind is quieter, more creative or heavy so drastic time changes – through flying across time zones – also create mental chaos. It is important to rest the mind and allow the body to catch up over the 24-hour period following a long flight. Don't get straight in front of your computer and try to concentrate. You will find it difficult to be productive.

How and why does light play such an important role in our sleep cycle and what other factors are involved?

Light and dark are fundamental to our sleep pattern. There are three hormones involved in our sleep cycle – tryptophan, melatonin and serotonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces serotonin. Serotonin, among other things, regulates sleep, calms you down and is light-sensitive. Melatonin controls your sleep cycle, and they are all interrelated. As the evening increases in darkness, the body's serotonin levels rise and melatonin is released to start the natural sleep cycle. On flights if it is our intention to sleep, we should avoid staring at our computers as that will also interfere with the natural sleep process.

What’s the best natural method for preparing yourself for air travel?

When taking long flights I recommend that you start the flight fully resourced; by that I mean you should not be tired, and you should be well hydrated. Don't drink alcohol for a few days before flying and get some early nights. As most people know, dehydration will make most people tired and quite likely give you a headache. When you get to the other end, don't dash to the first shopping place, social gathering or meeting – you need rest. If you follow these guidelines, you will feel so much better for it:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Maintain good internal and external moisturisation, in the form of essential oils for your skin and oil-soluble vitamins and minerals for your body. That means take some extra oils like Udos oil, plenty of olive oil or ghee. If you can't get a good massage, do a nice gentle self-massage with sesame seed oil.

I also recommend something like Yoga Sleep a type of deep relaxation and meditation that will completely revitalise you after travelling. The main thing in adjusting sleep patterns is to stay calm and relaxed for the next 24 hours so that when bedtime comes, your body is already relaxed. If you start running and getting busy, when it comes to trying to sleep in a foreign time zone, your body will not want to slow down at all.

You can also try lying on your bed and put your legs on the wall and relax there for about 10 minutes. This is great for circulation and will get your physiological rhythms back in order after a long flight. Your body will also usually feel tight and in need of a stretch, so don't be tempted to slump on a chair and just sit; stretch your body with some gentle yoga first.

My top 9 sleep tips for the 24 hours following touchdown

1. If possible give yourself 24 hours before you plan anything after the flight.

2. Drink plenty of fluids.

3. Unpack and get yourself settled so you are not in chaos and surrounded by your luggage.

4. Lie on your bed and put your legs up the wall for 10 minutes and take long, deep breaths.

5. Eat something light (juices, salads, soups or fruit) and avoid heavy, greasy foods.

6. Get a good massage or do self-massage with sesame-seed oil.

7. No coffee or alcohol for 24 hours.

8. Get good oils into the body e.g. Omega 3, 6 and 9; olive oil or ghee.

9. Try some yoga or gentle stretching.

Follow these guidelines and you will find you easily adjust to the new time zone.

Gain more insights from The Sleep Guru here.

And there we have it, some modern research and insights into one of the oldest problems in the history of aviation. We’d like thank all of our expert collaborators on this piece for their detailed information. If you need any assistance to charter your private flight we’re here to help, contact Air Charter Service today.

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