Jim Letourneau's Blog

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Fighting Jet Lag

We are flying to Italy today and while we are there long enough to allow a gradual adjustment to the 8 hour time difference, I'm hoping to minimize the worst of the jet lag. Many people swear by the use of sleeping pills. For me, the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) looms and I don't need to add an extra risk factor to my journey.

I've tried switching my sleep schedule over to the new time zone by staying up all night in an airport hotel room. The last time I attempted that, my flight to Poland was cancelled. My delay time wasn't excessive (3-4 hours) but I still had to run around LAX to fetch my bags and catch another flight with adrenaline pumping while it was sleepy time in Warsaw. 

I have also tried to use the methods laid out in "Overcoming Jet Lag" which laid out a very detailed 3 step program (used by "the White House, top US business executives and the US Army Rapid Deployment Force"). I found it a bit complicated and difficult to follow, especially when travelling with family.

Last year, I stumbled upon the use of fasting to minimize jet lag and so far, I've had fantastic results with it. All I need to do is not eat.

Not eat!

There is a parade of opportunities to eat and drink on long haul flights. The airport lounge is full of tasty bites. Then there's a parade of trolleys offering food and drink at the beginning of the flight. This simple version is from A “Fast” Solution to Jet Lag:

  • Avoid all food from the time you get to the airport (i.e., about two hours before departure)
  • Don’t eat during the flight — but still drink plenty of water
  • Eat soon after you land, as close to a local meal time as possible

For me, it is far easier to eat nothing than to have a few nibbles. Fasting makes it easy to turn down all the offered alcoholic drinks as well. Most west-east flights land in Europe in the morning. As far as the timing of breakfast goes, anytime between 6AM and 10AM local time works for me. When that breakfast meal is finally offered, I won't be groggy from a big feast 8-9 hours previously. I'll be guzzling coffee and firing up my metabolic engines.

I like this method as it not affected by flight delays.  My last meal was lunch on Tuesday and today is Thursday. My flight is scheduled to land at 10:40AM so breakfast should fall into a nice window. The hardest part is ignoring all the food smells on the plane. The best part will be waking up on Saturday ready to enjoy an 8:30AM day tour of Florence.