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The BEST Jet Lag Cure – Top 5 Supplements and Techniques

Do you frequently travel to other parts of the world? Have you ever suffered from jet lag?


In this article, we look at the top supplements for jet lag that every traveler should keep on them. We also explore some well-tested jet lag cures to help your body adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible.

jet-lag-cures

 

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag refers to an unusual state of tiredness and fatigue felt when crossing over several time zones. [1]

Symptoms of jet lag can include difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, headaches, daytime drowsiness and fatigue, and anxiety. Your brain’s natural sleep-wake cycle ‘the circadian rhythm’ is regulated by ambient light (as well as eating and social habits). When your brain detects that the sun is going down, it releases hormones to start the process of relaxation for sleep. [2]

When you travel to a foreign destination several time zones away, the ambient lighting rhythm goes out of sync, and the circadian rhythm (internal clock) stops working properly.

As a result, two sections of neurons in your brain that are involved in regulating deep sleep and REM sleep go out of sync with one another.[3] These ‘neuron zones’ are located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), just below the hypothalamus. Since they are out of sync, people with jet lag often find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, wide awake, or extremely tired by mid-afternoon.

 

West to East is definitely worse!

Jet lag is almost always experienced to be worse when traveling from west to east. [4]

This is because your brain has less time to recover. Traveling from east to west also causes jet lag, but it is typically not as bad. Traveling from north to south or vice versa may disrupt your sleep pattern if you don’t sleep on the plane, but it doesn’t count as jet lag if you haven’t crossed over several time zones.

As you get older, the symptoms of jet lag tend to get worse. [5]

Recent studies have found that jet lag may also be more severe because of the very dry air in an airplane, which often causes mild dehydration during the flight. Also, air pressure changes in the plane can cause changes in your bloodstream’s oxygenation – similar to a mild form of altitude sickness.[6] [7]

Some of the effects of jet lag can be reduced by avoiding caffeine and alcohol on the flight, staying hydrated, and doing some small exercises on the plane.

In fact, some researchers have even recommended oxygenation therapy to older people, to counter the effects of air pressure change and reduce symptoms of jet lag! [7]

man at airport

Best Jet Lag Cure Tips & Techniques to Improve Sleep

1.     Leave home rested and set your watch to the new local time zone as you fly

One of the most important ways to beat jet lag is to make sure that you are well rested when you get to your flight.

This is especially true for longer flights. Chances are, you won’t sleep very well on the plane and this can affect your immune system and your circadian rhythm.

Lack of sleep has a negative effect on your immune system [8], and you will be spending several hours crammed up with hundreds of people in a very small area – the chances of coming into contact with an airborne virus or bacteria are pretty high! So, don’t push it the days before your flight! You’ll be happy you didn’t when you avoid getting a cold at your new destination.

Another important tip for beating jet lag is to set your watch to the new time zone as you get onto the plane.reset watch to new time zone

Especially for longer flights, this helps your brain to start adapting to the new time before you’ve even arrived. If possible, try to go to sleep at a reasonable hour (for the new time zone) while in the plane – even if that means staying up for a while and watching films!

 

2.     Go to sleep at a normal time in your new destination

When you arrive at your new destination it is very important to push through and go to sleep at a reasonable time.

If you arrive late in the night, try to go to sleep as soon as possible and to wake up at a normal time the next day. You’ll feel groggy, but if you can push through for that first day and then get to bed at a normal time, it will really help your body clock to reset! (Always aim to arrive in the afternoon, wherever possible).

If you aren’t able to sleep at all during the first night, then the best trick is to push through (- seriously!) the entire next day, and not get to bed before 8 PM.

go to sleep by 10 PMIt will be tough, and we definitely don’t recommend driving or making any big decisions on that day. However, if you go to sleep in the afternoon or early evening, you will most likely sleep for 7 – 9 hours straight and then wake up in the middle of the night.

If you really need to, you can take a power nap somewhere in the day (not longer than an hour), but make sure that you get up afterward! A bit of tough love can go a long way to cure jet lag.

 

3.     Do some exercise and get some sunshine!

Does your hotel have a gym? Are you in a tropical paradise? Get active and get some sunshine!

Sunshine is recommended is because it helps your body to produce vitamin D, which is vital for good sleep! [9] Spending a groggy day basking in the sun? It could be a lot worse! Plus, you’re beating jet lag while you’re at it!

If you’re in a cold climate, you could still go to the pharmacy and pick up a vitamin D supplement. While you’re at it – vitamin B12 is also great for jet lag, by improving your energy levels during the day.[10]

 

exercise and sunshine help with sleepIf there’s no sunshine, at least try to do a little exercise – the science is very clear on how this helps you to sleep.

Exercise is great for beating jet lag since the endorphins released help you feel more calm and relaxed, and will make it easier for you to fall asleep. Studies have shown that 30 – 90 minutes exercise can dramatically improve your sleep, while also reducing stress and anxiety and lifting your mood.[11]

 

4.     Avoid caffeine!

Did you know that caffeine has a 5-6 hour half-life?[12] This means that, up to 6 hours after drinking a coffee, the level of caffeine in your bloodstream is only half of what it was right after drinking the coffee!

avoid caffeine to help with sleepCaffeine binds to adenosine receptors in your brain and prevents the correct compound from binding there – reducing the feeling of fatigue.[13] When considering jet lag, it is very important to make sure you time your coffee correctly.

If you are sensitive to caffeine – like many people are – try to avoid drinking any coffee at all, especially during your first day or two in town. If you must have caffeine, make sure that you don’t drink any coffee up to 6 hours before your desired bedtime.

 

5.     Planning on watching a film before bed? Think again!

We recommend avoiding all lit screens up to 1 hour before bed. Studies have shown that the white light behind your laptop or phone screen can negatively affect your sleep by ‘tricking’ receptors in your brain to think that it is still daytime.[14]

While this has been overcome somewhat with the ‘nightshift’ function on many phones and computers today (turns the light a warmer red during the evening time), the effect is still there – and especially so when you’re staring at a phone screen in the dark.

 

phone screen at nightPick up a book if you can. Within minutes, you’ll notice how tired you are! You can also time this with your jet lag supplement stack for the evening.

As you put your phone away for the night (putting it on ‘fight mode’ really helps!), pack your laptop away, and take out a book or journal, this is the perfect time to remember to take your supplements for jet lag! An hour later, you should be fast asleep with your body clock rapidly adjusting to the new time zone!

Top 5 Best Supplements for Jet Lag

1.     Melatonin

Melatonin is definitely the best-known supplement for combatting jet lag. It is the hormone responsible for regulating the circadian rhythm in your brain.[15]

Melatonin 20 gramsAs ambient light starts to fade, melatonin is released by the pineal gland – a small gland in the center of your brain – which triggers physiological changes in your body, and the release of even more calming and sleep-promoting hormones.

Studies have shown that a serving size of 0.5 – 5 mg is ideal for combatting the effects of jet lag and promoting healthy sleep.[16] Servings greater than 5 mg do not appear to be any more effective and may produce side effects like grogginess the following day.

Melatonin is the one key supplement for jet lag that all travelers should keep with them! Effects may be improved if you start taking Melatonin 1 -2 days prior to travel, and for a few days after arriving.

 

2.     Oleamide

Oleamide is less known than Melatonin but is also highly effective at improving sleep quality.[17] It is also a sleep-promoting compound produced in the brain.

Oleamide 50 gramsOleamide is ideal for people who cannot take Melatonin supplements (either due to sensitivity or because of regulations – for example, flight attendants and pilots). It is especially good for promoting healthy sleep – researchers have found that after just a few hours of sleep deprivation, the levels of Oleamide in the brain increase by up to 4 times! [18]

The recommended serving size is around 50 – 200 mg, based primarily on animal studies. Anecdotal reports tend to support this serving size, but there is still a need for further studies with human participants.

Oleamide’s mechanism of action works by increasing signaling through the GABA receptor system and improving serotonin levels. GABA is your body’s natural ‘depressant’ neurotransmitter and it helps reduce signals from the central nervous system (CNS), which is great for sleep!

 

3.     Vitamin D

Many medical professionals consider Vitamin D to be an essential supplement for combatting jet lag. [19]

Vitamin D sunshineNumerous studies have shown a clear link between sleep problems and vitamin D deficiency.[20] And if you live in the northern hemisphere, you will likely have low levels of vitamin D for at least 4 months of the year.[21]

Improving your Vitamin D intake can help improve the quality of your sleep and is a good jet lag cure. It is also effective at supporting a healthy immune system, which is important when traveling to foreign places and with a lack of sleep.

If you are traveling to a sunny destination, you can skip taking a vitamin D supplement – around one hour in the sun will replenish your vitamin D levels, and you’ll definitely notice how it will help you to sleep better! Just remember to pack your sunscreen!

 

4.     Supplement Combos: LiftMode Sleep Stack

LiftMode’s Sleep Stack capsules are specially designed to promote healthy sleep using four ingredients: Melatonin, L-THP, Oleamide, and Vitamin C. 

LiftMode's top non-habit forming sleep aidWe’ve already looked at the benefits of Melatonin and Oleamide for jet lag. L-Tetrahydropalmatine (L-THP; Corydalis yanhusuo extract) is a herbal extract has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years as a sleep remedy to improve relaxation and promote a calm state of mind.[22]

L-THP may also reduce stress and improve mood, both of which are important factors for combatting jet lag and improving your quality of sleep.

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin with literally hundreds of functions in your body! Studies have found that it may reduce stress while supporting a strong immune system and healthy skin. Vitamin C also helps with the absorption and uptake of several supplements.[23]

Overall, a supplement stack may be more beneficial than a single supplement. By combining the best features of the top supplements for jet lag, we may be one step closer to a jet lag cure!

 

5.     Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive extract from hemp plants (Cannabis sativa plants with < 0.3 % THC content).

CBD has a wide variety of health benefits which range from relaxation and stress reduction to promoting healthy skin and a healthy brain.[24] CBD’s popularity has grown exponentially since regulations in the US allowed for growing hemp plants and producing Cannabis-derived products.

CBD oil for sleepCBD helps to reduce stress and to calm the thoughts in your brain, which usually interrupt sleep.[25]

It is totally non-psychoactive and has an extremely low toxicity profile (considered to be very safe). You can also find CBD oil blends that are specifically designed to improve sleep, especially those using crude CBD extract with a greater concentration of additional cannabinoids, oils, and terpenes that work synergistically.

 

WARNING: Make sure that you check the legal status of CBD products in the destination country before traveling with CBD. Most of Europe is safe, but other countries, especially in Asia, may have very harsh rules.

 

Summary

Jet lag involves difficulty sleeping and adjusting to new body clock rhythms after traveling through multiple time zones.  The effects of jet lag are typically worse when traveling from West to East and get worse as you get older.
The effects can be mitigated through a variety of techniques:

  • Aim to arrive in the afternoon
  • Rest well before you travel
  • Stay hydrated on the plane
  • Set your clock to the new time zone as you get on the plane
  • Do exercises on the plane
  • Make sure that you sleep at a reasonable time in the new destination

 

There are also a few essential supplements for jet lag:

  • Melatonin – the body clock regulator
  • Oleamide – an endogenous sleep-promoting compound
  • Vitamin D – essential for good sleep and a healthy immune system
  • LiftMode’s Sleep Stack – specially designed to support healthy sleep
  • CBD Oil – great for relaxation and calm, may not be legal for travel to all destinations.

best-jet-lag-cures

Medical Disclaimer


Not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Please read and fully understand potential adverse effects before using this product. These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not written by a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.

 

tristan

Tristan

B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Researched & written by Tristan and verified by the Liftmode.com Research Team

 

 

Citations and Supporting Literature:

[1] Herxheimer A. (2014). Jet lag. BMJ clinical evidence2014, 2303.

[2] Ambesh, P., Shetty, V., Ambesh, S., Gupta, S. S., Kamholz, S., & Wolf, L. (2018). Jet lag: Heuristics and therapeutics. Journal of family medicine and primary care7(3), 507–510. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_220_17

[3] Lee, M. L., Swanson, B. E., & de la Iglesia, H. O. (2009). Circadian timing of REM sleep is coupled to an oscillator within the dorsomedial suprachiasmatic nucleus. Current biology : CB19(10), 848–852. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.03.051

[4] FOWLER, P. M., KNEZ, W., CROWCROFT, S., MENDHAM, A. E., MILLER, J., SARGENT, C., … DUFFIELD, R. (2017). Greater Effect of East versus West Travel on Jet Lag, Sleep, and Team Sport Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 49(12), 2548–2561. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000001374

[5] Monk, T. H., Buysse, D. J., Reynolds, C. F. 3rd, Kupfer, D. J. (1993). Inducing jet lag in older people: adjusting to a 6-hour phase advance in routine. Exp Gerontol 28(2):119-33.

[6] Muhm, J. M., Rock, P. B., McMullin, D. L., Jones, S. P., Lu, I. L., Eilers, K. D., … McMullen, A. (2007). Effect of Aircraft-Cabin Altitude on Passenger Discomfort. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(1), 18–27. doi:10.1056/nejmoa062770

[7] Adamovich, Y., Ladeuix, B., Golik, M., Koeners, M. P., & Asher, G. (2017). Rhythmic Oxygen Levels Reset Circadian Clocks through HIF1α. Cell Metabolism, 25(1), 93–101. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.09.014

[8] Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology463(1), 121–137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0

[9] Sahakyan, G. (2018). The role of Vitamin D in treatment of Chronic Insomnia with Melatonin (P5.320). Neurology,  90(15).

[10] Mayer, G., Kröger, M., Meier-Ewert, K. (1996) Effects of vitamin B12 on performance and circadian rhythm in normal subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology. 15(5):456-64.

[11] Dolezal, B. A., Neufeld, E. V., Boland, D. M., Martin, J. L., & Cooper, C. B. (2017). Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review. Advances in preventive medicine2017, 1364387. doi:10.1155/2017/1364387

[12] Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. (2001).  Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); Chapter 2: Pharmacology of Caffeine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/

[13] Ribeiro, J. A., & Sebastião, A. M. (2010). Caffeine and Adenosine. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20(s1), S3–S15. doi:10.3233/jad-2010-1379

[14] Fuller, C., Lehman, E., Hicks, S., & Novick, M. B. (2017). Bedtime Use of Technology and Associated Sleep Problems in Children. Global pediatric health4, 2333794X17736972. doi:10.1177/2333794X17736972

[15] Ferracioli-Oda, E., Qawasmi, A., & Bloch, M. H. (2013). Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e63773. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063773

[16] Herxheimer, A., & Petrie, K. J. (2002). Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd001520

[17] Boger, D. L., Henriksen, S. J., Cravatt, B. F. (1998). Oleamide: an endogenous sleep-inducing lipid and prototypical member of a new class of biological signaling molecules. Curr Pharm Des, 4(4):303-14. Review.

[18] Mendelson, W. (2001). The Hypnotic Actions of the Fatty Acid Amide, Oleamide. Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(5), S36–S39. doi:10.1016/s0893-133x(01)00341-4

[19] Potter, G. D., Skene, D. J., Arendt, J., Cade, J. E., Grant, P. J., & Hardie, L. J. (2016). Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Disruption: Causes, Metabolic Consequences, and Countermeasures. Endocrine reviews37(6), 584–608. doi:10.1210/er.2016-1083

[20] Gao, Q., Kou, T., Zhuang, B., Ren, Y., Dong, X., & Wang, Q. (2018). The Association between Vitamin D Deficiency and Sleep Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients10(10), 1395. doi:10.3390/nu10101395

[21] Wacker, M., & Holick, M. F. (2013). Sunlight and Vitamin D: A global perspective for health. Dermato-endocrinology5(1), 51–108. doi:10.4161/derm.24494

[22] Hassan, H. E., Kelly, D., Honick, M., Shukla, S., Ibrahim, A., Gorelick, D. A., … Wang, J. B. (2017). Pharmacokinetics and Safety Assessment of l-Tetrahydropalmatine in Cocaine Users: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of clinical pharmacology57(2), 151–160. doi:10.1002/jcph.789

[23] de Oliveira, I. J., de Souza, V. V., Motta, V., Da-Silva, S. L. (2015) Effects of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Anxiety in Students: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Pak J Biol Sci; 18(1):11-8.

[24] Pamplona, F. A., da Silva, L. R., & Coan, A. C. (2018). Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis. Frontiers in neurology9, 759. doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.00759

[25] Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal23, 18–041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041