The Ultimate Jet Lag Hack
If you follow Curie on Instagram, you know that I travel a lot (#curietravels). The travel is for Curie, for fun, and for some other companies that I advise. I have always suffered from TERRIBLE jet lag when crossing two or more time zones. I am basically a useless human for two days after I arrive to my destination, and for two days after I arrive back home, and it's just been getting worse with age (ugh).
As an entrepreneur, four wasted days is kind of a big deal, especially since I usually have meetings and events scheduled immediately upon arrival. So, when I had to take a quick trip to London this past week for a conference, I hate to admit I was dreading it. How sad is that? I love London! But the thought of sneaking cat naps in bathroom stalls, being wired at 2AM unable to fall asleep, having intense brain fog making it hard to form sentences, and dealing with bloating and stomach issues - thanks but no thanks.
Luckily I have a good friend that is a concierge medical doctor and one of the smartest people I know. Her name is Dr. Molly Maloof and she's in expert on the human body. She is always up on the latest research, and she has an answer for literally everything. Molly also happens to teach all around the world about the subject of sleep and circadian rhythms, so I shot her a text and asked her if she had any tips to fight jet lag.
And oh lord, did she.
Dr. Molly Maloof - the hottest doctor I know
Before I dive in, first it's important to know what causes jet lag. Molly explained to me that jet lag originates in the hypothalamus, which is the region of your brain that regulates temperature, sleep, circadian rhythms, appetite, and hunger. It responds slowly to changes in external time and light levels, thus causing a conflict between “inner time” and “outer time”.
Molly explained that the key to reducing jet lag is to reset both the central biological clock (we'll call it the "Master clock") and also the peripheral clocks (the one we're focusing on I'll call the "Hunger clock").
Resetting your brain: The Master Clock
This is the step I'm sure most of you have heard about again and again, but it's a very important step in the process. Molly says the best ways to reset the Master clock and normalize your sleep/wake rhythm is:
1) Bright light exposure
2) Melatonin supplements
3) Physical exercise
What I did was make sure I started adjusting to the destination time zone 24 hours before touch-down. On the 11 hour flight to London, I slept when it was night time London time. I woke up when it was morning London time. I put the shade down on the plane when it was night time London time, and opened it when it was day time London time. I did this on the flight back to San Francisco as well, which was when it got hard since it meant staying awake until 5AM London time. Girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I did not take melatonin, but it can be taken before bed to help you adjust more quickly. As for physical exercise, I walked around the plane and did wall squats and calf raises in the galley throughout the flight. Then when I landed (in London and back in San Francisco), I went for a 30 minute walk. This part was pretty. The key to resetting the Master clock is sleep, light, and exercise.
Resetting your gut: The Hunger Clock
This step was brand new to me, and it was by far the hardest, but it worked like a charm.
I fasted for 13 hours before touching down in London, and 16 hours before touching down in San Francisco. No food, no snacks, just water.
Molly explains, "fasting is the most effective way to travel and adjust quickly. It has been shown to be up to 16 times more effective than any other type of method when traveling through multiple times zones".
Basically, our hunger clock is what tells our bodies to eat during daylight hours and to fast at night when we are at rest. The best way to reset the Hunger Clock is by confusing it, and nothing confuses it like fasting.
It was hard to fast because I am usually ravenous on planes, but in all honesty, it really wasn't that hard to say "nahhh I'm good" to the salty, processed plane food. Then, when I arrived at my destination, I ate a high protein, healthy meal at a time-zone appropriate meal time. When I got to London, it was eggs and Canadian bacon on an english muffin for breakfast, and when I arrived back in San Francisco, it was an Israeli Vegan Power Bowl for dinner.
Another important thing Molly emphasizes is avoiding alcohol and drinking tons of water. 8 ounces per hour of flight time at a minimum. I quickly lost count, but I know I drank enough since I got up to pee about 300 times throughout the flight. My tip is to bring a re-usable water bottle so you don't have to wait for the flight attendant to come around with those tiny cups of water. They happily filled my bottle for me every time I asked.
To sum it all up, here are the five critical steps to stopping jet lag in its tracks:
I am sharing this with you all because this is the first time since I was a little kid that I've crossed multiple time zones and had ZERO jet lag. Seriously, this method WORKS. When I arrived in London, and when I got back to San Francisco a few days ago, I was full of energy. No sleep, stomach, or brain fog issues! This method worked so well for me and I hope it works for you, too. Please reach out if you have any questions, and if you use this method, let me know how it works for you!!
Happy travels, Curie babes!
**If you have any health issues or a history of disordered eating, please talk to your doctor before fasting**
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