15 October 2012

Jet lag - the top 10 cures

Ever had jet lag? I tried it once. It was horrible! Felt like I had been hit over the head, thoughts fuzzy, sleepy through the day, could not sleep at night. Appetite gone. Yep, once was enough.

That was over twenty years ago, and many international flights later, happily I have never had it again. This week, my top 10 ways to cure jet lag and travel comfortably, but first:

Thought for the day

We shall not cease from exploration, 
And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And to know the place for the first time.
                                                           T.S. Eliot

Jet lag is like most things. The best way to cure it, is not to get it. So here are 10 great ways to avoid jet lag: 

No. 1  Have attitude at altitude. 
It is all in the mind – well almost all. Expect the best; affirm you will be jet lag free and you are well on the way. Conversely expect to suffer and you are setting up a wish fulfilling prophecy. With a strong and clear intention, you are more likely to do the things that work and avoid those things that aggravate jetlag.

Reinforce your positive expectations with self-talk and visualization of travelling and arriving fit and well, especially if jet lag has been a problem in the past.

No 2  Arrive before you get there
Set your clock for the time zone you are flying to before take-off; and then follow that time. This means staying awake or sleeping depending upon the new time-zone. For long flights, I start to anticipate the new time zone a day or two before departure – this links with the visualization mentioned in No 1.

No 3  One trip at a time
Unless in Business Class, and if it is possible, break the journey with a stop-over on really long flights. Eg 10 – 12 hours max travel in one day, then a stopover is ideal.

No 4  Drink a lot of the right things
Cabin air is very dry and it is easy to dehydrate. Water is the best to drink – and lots of it. Avoid orange juice that adds to the acidity build up that can easily occur while flying. Apple and tomato juices are OK in modest amounts. Tea and coffee are better avoided and especially avoid alcohol - it messes with your head and your liver. Free alcohol is actually very expensive!

No 5  Eat lightly and sensibly
Vegan meals are the best. As a bonus, with a special, pre-ordered meal you will be served first and the food is simple and uncomplicated. Avoid saturated fats and dairy products particularly. They have a pro-inflammatory effect; something that is really unhelpful, particularly when your body is dealing with the added pressures of flying.

Modest supplements make sense when flying. Each day while travelling, I usually take 2 gms Vit C, 2 gms of flaxseed oil in capsules, half a high strength, good quality multivitamin/mineral tablet, and take 400 mgs of easily-absorbed magnesium. Also, I make sure my Vit D levels are high well before I leave and take 5,000 mgs daily while travelling.  I take all these supplements before getting on the plane, and on long flights may take another lot during the flight.

No 6  Meditate
This may be the most powerful key for avoiding jet lag and being comfortable. Meditation is known to produce good amounts of natural melatonin, the master hormone that regulates so many bodily functions, including sleep patterns and most jet lag related symptoms.

The challenge can be to relax and meditate in a potentially stressful, highly distracting environment. For experienced meditators, this challenge can serve to focus your mind and deepen your meditation.

For beginners, you may be wise to take some assistance on board in the form of guided meditations on an iPod or smart phone. For those using the Mindbody Mastery program, this is an ideal time to use its portability. If you do become distracted easily, this will be a time to use a concentration type meditation, such as focusing upon counting your breath.

Remember to begin whatever meditation you do by taking time to deliberately and thoroughly relax your body.

No 7  Exercise regularly
On the plane, get up regularly for a walk around the cabin. As well, flex, bend and stretch every few hours.

If despite all this you experience fluid build up in your ankles, pressure socks are well worth considering for next time. Actually, the main message here is to wear knee high compression stockings/socks that have a rating of 15-20mmHg on flights longer than 4 hours. Most chemists can advise and supply these, or for excellent on-line help call Health Care at Home on +61 (3) 95400199 or free call 1800 634 974.

No 8  Once landed, reconnect with the ground
Go for a walk in the open air for at least half an hour as soon as possible on arrival. Ideally find a park or lawn where you can go barefoot for half that time. Aim to be outdoors, in the daylight as close as possible to dusk and dawn for the day after travelling. This helps to further reset your melatonin and time clock.

No 9  Travel light
I spent 3 months overseas recently with about 8 kgs of luggage including quite a few books. I wear as much heavy clothing as possible on the flight, and pack a minimum of every thing. Simplicity makes life easy.

No 10  If not sleep, rest
In my experience, follow 1 to 9 and all will flow smoothly. Avoid any temptation to sleep during the day and then, if by chance you do not sleep so well the first night, simply get into bed and rest at the appropriate sleep time. Sleep research shows that resting quietly, particularly if you physically relax and avoid stressing over being awake, has a similar regenerative effect to standard sleep.

Then get up the next day and enjoy your new destination.

Any jet lag experiences or tips to share? Have your say via the Comments section below.

Happy travels!



Ruth and I look forward to meeting up with those who follow the blog, those we have met through previous programs and those we will meet over the weekend. We both enjoy talking through the breaks during the days, so do come and say hello.

Saturday, 20 October, 2012

When: 9.30am (for 10am start) - 4pm 
Where: Veterinary Science Conference Centre, Webster Theatre, Sydney University

Sunday, 21 October, 2012


When: 9.30am (for 10am start) - 4pm 
Where: Veterinary Science Conference Centre, Webster Theatre, Sydney University

Bookings Essential: Call Sarah Tail 0418 22 0590 or Tina Rae (02) 4294 8361
Register on line: at www.rigpa.com.au 

2. More meditation retreats in 2013

Recently back from having the opportunity to participate in a longer retreat ourselves, Ruth and I are inspired to present 3 retreats next year. We will repeat the popular pre-Easter retreat at the Gawler Foundation's tranquil Yarra Valley centre, make the effort (it takes quite some organising) to bring back the much requested Central Australian retreat, and then offer our first meditation retreat in New Zealand later in the year. Full details in the next week or two, once the arrangements are finalised.

1 comment:

  1. Well. how do you do it? Just arrived back from 6 weeks in France,still in La La Land, turned on the computer to delete all the emails( except your blogs) when it went "BING" and your jetlag blog arrived. I have to say that I actually normally am quite fond of my jetlag and stretch it out as long as possible. Good excuse to be left alone for a couple of weeks after returning and to let the holiday last a bit longer. Much like returning from a Retreat. But it is true that Jetlag is "all in the Mind." And the proof for that is lying on my feet in the shape of a fluffy 4 month old Flatcoat Retriever Puppy which I picked up a day after returning heavily jetlagged from oversees. Best cure there is!
    And not only is the Indian vegetarian Food the best option for health and taste and receiving it first, but you also finish first while the others are still trapped in their seats and the whole plane is yours to run around in and get some exersise. Thanks for your much appreciated blog Ian. nice to have Ruth and yourself back in the country. Better start saving up for the Dessert Retreat now!
    Oh,and I got a pleasant surprise when failing to find opportunities to meditate during my visit to France and missing it, when a strong feeling of meditation just entered my body out of the blue and filled me with a glow from head to toe for a while. This happened about once a day. Meditation without trying!