Jet lag affects us all but in different ways. Whether you travel a lot or very little, and whether you travel for work or for pleasure, your body will be out of sync with your destination.
We often travel across the pond to the United States, which is a long haul flight, so there’s no escaping it. Crossing multiple time zones means sleepless nights. Learning to breathe for jet lag can be a game-changer and help you better manage your energy, so we’re sharing our tips to help make the process a little easier.
Syncing your body clock with the sun
The first thing we learnt about managing our jetlag was a bit about the science behind it. Jet lag is desynchronisation of your circadian rhythm, or your body clock. When you travel, you leave with your body synced to your origin. You might leave when the sun is rising or setting and then arrive somewhere else where it’s doing the opposite, or it’s a completely different time of the day. Put simply, when we’re jetlagged we’re out of sync with the rising and setting of the sun.
Despite what many people say, jet lag or desynchronisation in any form, affects everybody. Plenty of people say, “Oh, no I’m a trooper. I land and I sleep straight away, and then I’m fine.” But really you’re not because you’re actually spending your time playing catch-up.
Even worse, you fly in somewhere and then decide to drive for another 10 hours or travel across that country into different time zones again. We’ve done that, and it’s not fun, especially travelling with our two little girls.
For me (Angie) being a mum and getting enough sleep is very important. I need to be able to manage my energy as a mum because if I’m jet lagged and cranky, I take it out on Shane because I’m angry at him for whatever reason I go looking for.
The first thing we try to do to beat jet lag is sync to where we are going. One of the easiest ways to do that is to find out what the time is at your destination and set a clock or your watch to that time.
Fasting and staying hydrated for more energy
Our second tip is to fast, or eat lightly. Stick to liquids, juices, water if you can. Water is important because you want water that’s high quality, that’s going to nourish, or nurture the body.
You’ll hate it because when you’re on a plane, you’re bored and you want to eat the food, but eating the food is probably one of the worst things you can do. If you arrive on an empty stomach your body has far more energy to reroute to get your system in sync.
Another important trick is to ensure you’re properly hydrated. As the pressure in the cabin drops, it will not only affect your breathing, but it will also affect the hydration of your skin.
Other than drinking enough water, essential oils can also help. Angie’s an oil buff. Initially, I (Shane) wasn’t a fan but now I love them because if you spray something like rose water, or spray something on the skin, it hydrates the skin so you don’t feel like a bag of ash when you get to your destination. When you smell them, they go past the brain blood barrier and go directly to the centre of the body. We like to say essential oils light up the system.
Wear your blue-blocking glasses
I (Shane) like to start a movie marathon when I’m flying and so do a lot of others but it’s important to limit the amount of blue light. If you really want to feel better when you get to your destination, read a book and limit yourself to one movie. Definitely don’t binge-watch a whole series or watch multiple movies.
The amount of natural light you get is also crucial to feeling better when you land which brings us back to syncing your body clock to where you’re going. Before you fly find out what the seasons are like at your destination so you can understand when the sun’s going down there. Wearing blue-blocking glasses until the sun starts to rise where you’re going will have a huge positive impact on your sleep. We’ve been trialling these glasses for three or four months and we’ve notice a difference.
A good eye mask can make all the difference to your quality of sleep. They are usually provided on long haul flights but I (Angie) like to use my own which is satin, light and comfortable. I wear it when I sleep regularly.
The other thing I (Angie) highly suggest is immune boosters. When you’re travelling your body gets a shock. Find a naturopath near you, or go to a health food shop and ask about immune system boosters. For me, echinacea, vitamin C and zinc really help.
Colloidal silver nose sprays are also very good, or coating the inside of your nose with Vaseline is a good precaution to take because you breathe in a mixture of stuff through the nose when you’re stuck in a cabin.
We’re not saying you get sick from planes, we’re just suggesting you take precautions and boost your immune system before you travel because it’s a good idea to do it anyway. All these little things you can do will make a big difference in the long run.
Follow the light
The first thing we do when we get off the plane is look up to the sky. It’s important to go searching for natural daylight and breathe in fresh air. Another good idea is to exercise. By exercising you will allow your metabolism to up-regulate, which will in turn start to regulate the rest of your body.
We also recommend staying awake for as long as you can until you feel the natural dip in energy, then have an afternoon nap. We’ve found that this alone has added two days onto our trip that we otherwise would have spent trying to recover.
Breathing through jet lag
Last time we went to the United States I (Angie) had a profound experience. I did all these things we just spoke about on the plane, and I was bored but I didn’t want to read or watch a movie. So anytime I felt exhausted, or tired, or wanted something, I just breathed in a very rhythmic, consistent way for as long as I could that was comfortable.
If I had trouble sleeping I put on my blue glasses before I know it’s time to rest, then I put my eye mask on and laid back. I relaxed my whole body, breathing in rhythmically, usually about 4 or 5 seconds in then 4 or 5 seconds out, for 3 to 4 hours of my 12 hour flight. By concentrating on inhaling and opening and expanding, and exhaling and relaxing the body, I felt oxygenated when we landed.
As we mentioned before, the cabin pressure drops during the flight so there is low oxygen in the cabin already. Thus by replenishing yourself you’re less likely to have a deficit when you reach the destination.
Another game-changer is having a cold shower. Consistent cold showers from the time you land helps wake up the brain and body.
It’s not rocket science. We like to prep for a flight with these tips because we find whether we’re on holiday or travelling for work, we enjoy it from the moment we hit the ground.