How to Avoid Jet Lag When Traveling
By: Dave Asprey
- Flying is harder on your body than you might think. Time zone changes, fluorescent lighting, altitude exposure, and low-quality air all have a big impact on your performance. Fortunately, there are several hacks you can use to avoid jet lag.
- Blue light-blocking glasses will protect your mitochondria (the power plants of your cells) from the fluorescent bulbs on airplanes and keep your sleep schedule from shifting.
- The right supplements can help you deal with the decreased oxygen you get on airplanes and prevent jet lag symptoms.
- Fasting while you fly helps avoid jet lag by making your brain more adaptable to time zone shifts.
Flying is harder on your body than you might think. The combination of time zone changes, crappy fluorescent lighting, low-quality air, and high-altitude exposure can really screw up your biology and leave you jet-lagged when you land.
The good news is that you can avoid jet lag. For me, hacking air travel is a necessity: I fly at least 100 times a year, often between time zones, and over time I’ve found several powerful hacks to minimize the stress of flying and prevent jet lag symptoms.
Air travel doesn’t have to mess with your biology. Here are six things you can do to avoid jet lag when you fly.
Block junk light with TrueDark glasses
Your body uses light like a nutrient, and getting the right kinds of light can upgrade your performance a lot. Sunlight, for example, is responsible for most of your vitamin D synthesis, and your mitochondria use red light to create more energy.
On the other hand, the wrong light will screw up your biology in a major way. Most airplanes use fluorescent bulbs, which are the light equivalent of junk food. Fluorescent bulbs take away all the biologically useful light spectrums and replace them with unnaturally concentrated blue light — much more than your body has evolved to handle. That’s why airplane lighting can feel so harsh.
Excessive blue light damages your mitochondria, which impairs your ability to make energy for your cells. If you’re taking an evening flight or a red-eye, fluorescent bulbs are even worse: bright blue light tells your body what time it is, and nighttime exposure scrambles your sleep schedule by interfering with your melatonin production. That’s one reason why flying messes with your sleep-wake cycle.
Junk airplane light was messing with my biology so much that I started TrueDark, a company that makes blue light-blocking glasses specifically for hacking jet lag and sleep quality issues.
The TrueDark Twilight glasses block even the harshest blue light. If you pick only one jet lag tip from this list, choose blue-light-blocking glasses, whether you’re traveling between time zones or not. You’ll see a huge reduction in jet lag symptoms like disrupted sleep, mood swings, concentration issues and daytime fatigue.
Wear compression gear when you fly
You may have heard that you should wear compression socks when you fly. That’s because air travel has all the perfect ingredients to impair your blood flow: low air pressure, dehydration, minimal movement, and hours of sitting all contribute to decreased circulation. Flying causes a 100-200 percent increase in your risk of deep vein thrombosis — blood clots in your legs that are potentially fatal. Compression socks improve circulation in your legs and prevent blood clots from forming.
I started out just wearing compression socks. Then I tried full compression gear — socks, pants, and a top — and found I was much less puffy and inflamed after flying. If you don’t want to do full-body compression, at least pick up some compression socks. Fatal blood clots are not good for your performance.
Avoid jet lag with these supplements
Your mitochondria (the power plants of your cells) take a beating when you fly, too. Part of it is the junk light and traveling across time zones, and part of it is high altitude.
Your mitochondria use oxygen to make energy. When they don’t have enough oxygen to work with, they ramp down energy production, and you end up with brain fog, headaches, tiredness, and inflammation. You don’t feel well, you can’t focus, and you want to sleep when it’s the middle of the day.
The right supplements will make your mitochondria more efficient and keep your energy production higher, which can go a long way toward preventing jet lag. Here’s what I use to keep my mitochondria strong and avoid jet lag symptoms when I fly:
– KetoPrime contains oxaloacetate, an essential metabolic compound that powers your mitochondria. When your body has plenty of oxaloacetate, your mitochondria become more efficient and are better at producing energy. I always take KetoPrime before I fly, and I feel the difference.
– Polyphenomenal is a dense source of polyphenols, antioxidants that protect your mitochondria from cellular stress. When your mitochondria use oxygen to make energy, they leave behind free radicals — the part of the oxygen molecule that they don’t use. Free radicals cause oxidative damage that slows your mitochondria down. Polyphenols bind to those free radicals and deactivate them before they can mess with your energy levels. I take one serving of Polyphenomenal before I fly.
These three supplements will protect your mitochondria when you’re on an airplane and leave you feeling more like yourself when you land.
Stay hydrated during your flight
Airplanes don’t have dedicated oxygen systems; the air you breathe in a plane comes from outside. High-altitude air holds very little moisture, which can dehydrate you if you’re flying for several hours. Double down on water during your flight, and resist the temptation to buy those fourteen dollar cocktails — alcohol will dehydrate you further.
Fast while flying
Flying is a great chance to do some Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. Fasting makes your cells more resilient in general, and new research shows it controls your internal clock as much as light exposure does.
When you eat, your brain makes a tight link between your sleep and light-dark cycles. Fasting activates a part of your brain called the dorsomedial nucleus that makes you less rigid with your sleep schedule. In a fasted state, you’re more able to reset your sleep schedule to match your environment, meaning you can adjust to time differences and jet lag with ease.
If you aren’t going to fast, at least pack your own food when you fly. Airplane meals won’t do your body any favors.
Ground yourself when you land
I was skeptical of grounding when I first heard about it. The theory is that the earth carries a mild negative charge, and that direct skin contact with the ground disperses a positive charge that builds up in your cells.
There isn’t much science to back up grounding, but I heard that it helps with jet lag and I had a few minutes after a flight, so I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it out. I went to a park and walked around barefoot in the grass for a few minutes. I felt better almost immediately.
That could have been a placebo effect, so I set up a double-blind N=1 study to see if grounding impacted me. I find it consistently improves my sleep, and it has become one of my go-to hacks for jet lag.
I don’t know why grounding works, but it makes a meaningful difference in performance. Give it a try next time you fly. The worst case is that you spend a few minutes barefoot in a park or in nature, enjoying your destination.
These jet lag hacks will make a profound difference in the way you feel when you travel. Give them a try; you’ll feel the difference. Thanks for reading and stay Bulletproof.
Read Next: 4 Ways to Hack Your Next Flight
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