Dr. Lee Cowden, my personal physician and a well-respected leader and teacher in natural medicine, reveals methods that can help travelers fend off jet lag. I plan to use this technique when I travel to India in a few weeks. The best part about it is that you can even do it right from your seat on the plane, and it costs absolutely nothing! This information is invaluable for anyone who travels over many time zones frequently for business or pleasure.
Jet lag can be a real burden for travelers who want to get the most sightseeing or business time in as possible while they’re at their destination. Unfortunately, when you cross several time zones in a short period of time, your internal clock, or circadian rhythm, becomes out of sync with the external environment’s clock.
So while your body may be telling you it’s time to go to sleep, the sun may be rising in your new locale, signaling it’s time to wake up and eat breakfast. This internal-external conflict can lead to feelings of being tired and wired at the same time, or it may cause insomnia, fatigue, headaches, irritability, mental fogginess and more.
Eventually your body will adjust to the rhythm of its new environment, but experts estimate recovery rates of up to one day for each time zone crossed. Ideally it would be best to avoid sacrificing several days of your vacation or business travel feeling completely out of it, so methods to speed up this adjustment are often necessary.
More Methods to Eliminate Jet Lag
As Dr. Cowden pointed out in the video, along with the stroking technique you can also supplement with melatonin -- a hormone that helps you sleep and radically decreases your risk of cancer -- when you go to sleep that first night. Jet lag is associated with disturbances in the pineal gland in your brain; your pineal gland secretes melatonin, so if you have jet lag you have reduced melatonin secretion.
Along with the melatonin, it’s absolutely crucial that your bedroom is as dark as it can possibly be.
While it’s typically thought that your biological clock is what tells you when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep, light and dark signals actually control your biological clock. To get more specific, a part of your brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) -- a group of cells in your hypothalamus -- controls your biological clock. And the cells that make up your SCN respond to light and dark signals.
Light actually travels through your eye’s optic nerve to your SCN, where it signals your body’s clock that it’s time to wake up. Light also signals your SCN to initiate other processes associated with being awake, such as raising your body temperature and producing hormones like cortisol.
Meanwhile, when your eyes signal to your SCN that it’s dark outside, your body will begin to produce melatonin. The more your sleep is disrupted by light pollution, the lower your melatonin levels will be, and likely the harder time you’ll have falling asleep.
This is also why it’s really important to stay awake in your new destination until bedtime. If you try to sneak in a nap in the afternoon, it will only confuse your body clock further.
Whenever I travel across a time zone or two, I stay awake till bedtime, take a dose of melatonin when I go to bed, and the next day I have no jet lag. I suspect that when combined with Dr. Cowden’s approach, these simple steps will drastically reduce your jet lag, and allow you to make the most out of your travel.