What is Jet Lag?
Jetlag is the result of your 'body clock', an internal regulator that governs the timing of certain biological/circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycle etc), becoming disrupted.
There are two issues with the symptoms of jet lag.
- general fatigue / imbalance due to flying itself (disrupted routines, dry pressurised cabin air, unstable movement for hours on end etc)
- the actual crossing of time zones, which upsets the usual cycle of day & night (or more accurately daylight and darkness). This in turn affects your body's internal 'body clock' and the functions it controls - digestion, sleep etc.
Both issues can affect the usual symptoms of jet lag, so addressing both, is ideal for best results.
For general fatigue and jetlag
1. Stay Well Hydrated:
The pressurised, dry air in planes can quickly 'dehydrate' your body tissues causing dry skin, fatigue, constipation, poor concentration etc.
Drink plenty of 'warm/hot' water ('sweet' teas are great), before, during & after the flight.
You may not want to drink too much as you don't want to disrupt people getting to the toilet too regularly, but don't let it compromise your health and comfort. Most people prefer the window (better for sleep), but the aisle is good for getting to the loo more regularly.
2. Avoid Alcohol & Caffeinated Drinks (coffee, coke etc):
Both alcohol & caffeine drinks are diuretic in nature & increase the 'dehydrative' (is that a word) effect on your body. It's best to avoid both while flying long distances.
3. Oil Massage Beforehand:
Massages (either by yourself or by a masseur) should almost be considered 'compulsory' before &/or after long journeys.
The main benefit is through putting the oil on the skin itself. This offsets the tremendous 'drying' of the skin/superficial tissues provides a protective-like barrier for your body.
Oil (e.g sesame or almond oil) massaged in your ears & up your nose (that's a good look!), before/during air travel also keeps these delicate tissues well lubricated. This greatly helps your sinuses, reduces the effects of noise on the nervous system & helps nourish/settle your mind.
4. Warm Baths:
A warm bath (or shower) following a quick self-massage on arrival, is ideal for re-balancing & re-energising your body after travelling.
Specifically for Jet Lag
5. Avoid Eating or Eat Minimally:
The movement/irregular nature of travel makes it much harder to digest/assimilate/absorb food properly. Try to eat a decent meal a good 1-2 hours before travelling. Once on the flight, eat very lightly.
This recommendation is not just good for avoiding the actual 'airline' food (that will kill you before you even get jetlag!) but will minimise the effect of jet lag. I'm not sure of the exact mechanism for this, but I suspect the significant energy demands saved by not overloading the body with food enables the body to more efficient readjust itself and adjust to the different time zone. Experiments comparing someone who flies on a full stomach and one who avoids food shows significantly less jetlag for the one who avoided eating.
* Fresh juicy fruit is ideal for flying etc - as it's both light & high in fluid/water content.
6. Move to The New Time Zone Routine ASAP:
The more you can keep to the normal daily clock the better.
When crossing time zones, start aligning your daily routine to the new time zone as early as possible. E.g. eat your main meal (lunch) around midday - sleep at 10 - 10.30pm etc. I.e. at the actual times in the place you are traveling to.
Jet lag is based on on crossing 'time'-zones. Therefore if you can transcend 'time' (stay with me here), you can transcend (or 'go beyond') the effects of jet lag. Thus, arguably the best antidote or jet lag preventor is transcending (I personally practice and recommend Transcendental Meditation). This is the experience in various forms of meditation, where you relax your nervous system to such a degree that you go beyond sensory experience. For those who do it, you will know it's a totally natural and beautiful experience.
Anyway, being beyond normal sensory functioning, you are also beyond what's called the space-time continuum, where jet lag occurs.
You are in the 'timeless'.
So in short, if you do have a meditation type practice that gives you this experience, do it regularly while on the plane etc.
Good quality sleep (not after a lot of food and preferably in line with the sleep cycle of the time-zone you're going to), is good too.
8. Light Therapy:
As your sleep/wake cycle is partially governed by changes in light (day to night etc), it is suggested and plausible, that you may be able to substantially reduce the effects of jet lag via something called 'light therapy'.
For example, it's known in shift workers that you can move the early morning 3.00 - 5.00am) 'zombie time' to later in the morning by subjecting workers to specific frequencies of bright light during this period.
Thus, if you are travelling to a place where it will be late at night on your arrival, by staying awake for the last section of the trip and subjecting yourself to as much bright light as possible (overhead reading lights & bathroom lights are probably as good as you can do on a plane...unless you take your own torch!!!),may give some benefit. E.g in helping your body sleep quicker and more profoundly once at your destination (in line with the proper sleep cycle).
9. Listen to The Music of Nature:
This is another 'interesting' one, but really powerful one if you understand your body not as a physical machine, but more in terms of nothing but sound waves or vibrations of energy (which it is).
Each cycle of nature (circadian rhythm is you like) also has its own specific 'sound or energy vibration'. Early morning has a different feel or flavour to late at night, yes?
So in these terms, jet lag is simply your own internal vibrations or music is out of rhythm with the universal harmony.
What Can You Do?
By listening to music that is based on the natural 'sound vibrations' of the time-period you will be entering on your arrival to your destination, you can get your body 'in sync' with the natural cycles of that location for when you arrive. Thus, offseting the effects of jet lag (i.e the 'lag' of your body catching up to the new cycles).
The only downside is that I don't really know any mainstream places you can get such music. The only one I know of is the Maharishi 'Gandharva Veda' version. Gandharva Veda is known as 'the eternal music of Nature'.
There is one CD set that contains music of the full 24 hour daily cycle, in six, 4 hour periods. To check it out, search google or something in your country for 'Maharishi AyurVeda Gandharva Veda'. In Australia, www.mapi.com.au should have it. In the USA, try www.mapi.com
10. Rest More but Try Not to Use Sleeping Pills:
Obviously one of the best antidotes to the rigours of travel is it's direct opposite - GOOD REST. Being well rested before you leave and ensuring good rest on your arrival (commensurate with your travel time) is best.
It's best not to look to sleeping pills to try to alleviate jet lag.
This can be frought with danger, as sleeping pills simply dull the nervous system, impair proper regenerative sleep and can even induce comatose type states with little or no natural body movement.
There is quite a bit of evidence that suggests extended periods without body movement during flights can result in things like deep vein thrombosis ...fatal blood clots etc.
11. Earth or Ground Yourself
Arguably the best way to eliminate the adverse effects of jetlag we have left to last. It involves reconnecting to Mother Earth. Flying through the sky at 30 or 40,000 feet for many hours is the polar opposite of standing on the surface of Mother earth (the ground). Standing barefoot on the ground, whether on grass, sand or in a natural body of water, is called earthing or grounding, and is my number one recommendation for you to do as soon as you can after a long flight. If you can't practically get outside with your shoes off soon after flying, I recommend you buy some indoor earthing products and at the very least whenever you travel, take an earthing mat and if possible an earthing bedsheet.
That's it. Hope that helps and happy travelling!