5 Natural Ways to Beat Jet Lag
We’ve all been there, wide awake long before the sun rises and struggling to stay awake in the middle of the day. Jet lag can be a difficult start or a bad ending to a great holiday. Not only does it affect our sleep, jet lag can also disturb digestion and make us lose our appetite, and can cause headaches, irritability, lethargy, dehydration, and even disorientation. Unfortunately the older you get, the harder it is for you to adjust, but travelling across time zones doesn’t have to be so miserable.
Applying concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sleep Therapy, and other alternative therapies, these 5 recommendations can help you restore balance to your circadian rhythms, or body clock, enjoy more of your holiday, and quickly adjust back into your regular routines while travelling.
1. Nap Strategically
…or not at all!
It’s tempting to give into naps when experiencing jet lag, but naps aren’t always a good idea. If travelling east, it’s best not to nap at all. However, if you’re travelling west, a 30-minute to hour-long snooze can give you just enough of a boost to get you through the day without compromising your sleep at night. Our sleep specialist also suggests something called “phasing” where you gradually shift your sleeping schedule in 1-hour increments each night so you don’t shock the body. For example, if your goal is to sleep at 10pm, sleep at 8pm on the first night, 9pm on the second night, and 10pm on the third night. Whether or not you choose to nap, a good night’s sleep is important to adjusting smoothly to a new time zone.
2. Maintain Your Environment
Exposing yourself to as much natural light as possible in your new time zone helps reset your biological clock to that destination. In addition, try keeping your environment dark the hour before you intend to sleep. Cool temperatures also help your body adjust, so keep your room cool and even take a cold shower if you must.
3. Gentle Exercise
Exercise might be the last thing you want to do when experiencing jet lag, but can help reduce the symptoms dramatically. Gentle exercises are best when you travel, so don’t overdo it with high-intensity workouts. Listen to your body and do what feels best. Light bodyweight workouts, stretching exercises or a walk might be all you need. The best times to exercise are before, during and after your flight, so try to stay active and keep your blood flowing during these crucial moments of your journey.
4. Diet & Supplements
When travelling across time zones, it’s best to limit caffeine to mornings, ideally avoid it altogether. It’s also recommended that you avoid alcohol for the first few days, and rich meals before bedtime. Instead, try one of these natural teas and supplements to help you stay awake during the day, and get to sleep at night.
Green tea has lots of antioxidants and helps hydrate the body during or after a flight. Ideally, 4 cups of green tea on any long haul can make a huge difference. Japanese green tea is available on most airlines if you prefer not to bring your own. For people who cannot take green tea due to its ‘cold’ nature, Genmaicha (a Japanese green tea with brown rice kernels) is recommended.
Melatonin or Tart Cherry Juice
Melatonin is a sleep regulating hormone that your body naturally produces. Take small dose of melatonin supplement if you’re struggling to get to sleep at night. Tart cherry juice is an alternative to taking a melatonin supplement at night. Tart cherries are one one of the few natural sources of melatonin, and two servings per day can have a big impact on your sleep.
Calming / Awakening Tea
Try one of these blends recommended by our TCM practitioner to help you get to sleep at night:
Rose bud + chamomile+ dried longan
Lavender + honey
If you want a boost to help you stay awake, a blend of American ginseng + goji berries will awaken the senses when you begin to feel fatigued.
Drinking this antioxidant packed drink before and after your trip can strengthen your body when it needs it most, as travelling and jet lag can often make us feel weak at times. NingXia Red wolfberry juice incorporates the benefits of Goji berry, yuzu juice, aronia berry and therapeutic essential oils into a powerful antioxidant and nutritionally balanced drink. It provides benefits on a cellular level and can boost energy among other things.
5. Stimulate Energy Flow
Energy flows in a 24 hour cycle, and the body’s functions are tied to this cycle. When you restore balance to your energy flow, you restore balance to your circadian rhythms. Acupuncture, cupping, sound healing, acupressure, and certain types of massage therapy, such as Shiatsu, Chi Nei Tsang, and Aromatherapy, all help restore this balance by treating the underlying cause rather than just the symptoms of this body clock disruption.
Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate acupoints – or access points to the energy pathways throughout your body – to facilitate the the balance of energy flow. Acupuncture particularly helps to reduce headache, dizziness, and nausea that can occur from travelling. Similarly, you can use gentle finger or hand pressure to massage these access points anytime, anywhere.
Cupping uses suction on the skin’s surface to “suck” stagnant blood from deep beneath the surface, mobilizing blood flow and delivering a range of benefits. Not only does it improve energy and blood circulation, it can also treat muscle pain that might occur after a long flight.
Shiatsu Therapy, Japanese bodywork based on the ideas of Traditional Chinese Medicine, combines acupressure with gentle rocking and breathing to support the nervous system and reset your natural biological clock. A Shiatsu session will also include self help tips to take home with you.
Indigestion is another unfortunate symptom of jet lag. Chi Nei Tsang is an abdominal detox massage that works the energy of the internal organs, and can help soothe a disturbed stomach when travelling.
Calming essential oils like lavender, and awakening essential oils like peppermint can help your body adjust to new time zones using the senses. An aromatherapy massage treatment or even self massage will help your body reap all the benefits of aromatherapy. Apply essential oil on the temple area and along the hair-line on the back of your neck and gently massage the oil into the skin for best results. For those have sensitive skin or do not have prior experience using essential oils, dilute the oil with a carrier oil like jojoba oil or almond oil (2-5 drops of essential oil to 1 tea spoon or carrier oil).
Sound healing harnesses the power of sonic frequencies to heal the body’s DNA – it’s like an aural massage for your body on a cellular level. Sound therapy is said to improve sleep quality, mood, and overall wellness. Try looking for a sound frequency to listen to on the plane, or when you arrive at your destination to encourage happy DNA and sleep better.
Do you want to learn more about alternative therapies? Book a 20min complementary holistic health exploratory session:
Tel: +852 2530 3315