This week on The Plus Factor, we’re talking about real jet-lag cures that get the thumbs-up from the wellness community—from a hydration game-changer to apps that help with your circadian rhythm.
It doesn’t matter who you are: If you’ve traveled long distance via a plane, you’ve probably experienced jet lag. And that goes for everyone, whether you flew first class or economy (being seriously exhausted is a democratic phenomenon).
“Jet lag is medically defined as feeling tiredness and other physical effects after a long flight across time zones,” says Todd Rowe, MD. But often, it feels so much worse than just being wiped out. Dr. Rowe says symptoms can also include mood changes, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, and nausea that can turn the beginning of a relaxing getaway into a bummer.
So why does it happen? A lot of it has to do with the combination of time-zone changes conflicting with your circadian rhythm (that’s your natural sleep pattern) as well as the dehydration that is often caused from flying at 30,000-feet above the ground for hours on end.
Jet-lag-induced symptoms can include mood changes, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, and nausea that can turn the beginning of a relaxing getaway into a bummer.
You already know that staying hydrated is super important on a long flight—that’s why countless bathroom breaks are a given. But how do you refrain from constantly forcing your middle-seat mate to get up so you can hit the W.C.? Thanks to new innovations like Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier, the electrolyte powder mix that promises the same amount of hydration in one dose as you’d normally get in two or three bottles of H2O, you could cut those awkward bathroom visits in half—and potentially lessen the effects of jet lag once you finally do land.
And that’s just one of the new practices that members of the wellness community are embracing to elevate their jet-setting lives. Here, we’re rounding up the travel tricks that will help you make the most of your precious vacay days—wherever you are.
Scroll down for four natural cures for jet lag that are changing travel for the better.
The hydration game-changer
“You become dehydrated more slowly over the course of a plane flight, so you don’t want it to sneak up on you,” says Brad Thomas, MD, the medical director of Liquid I.V. To counteract that, the buzzy new brand engineered a powder that features simple ingredients like beet sugar, mined salt, potassium and vitamins like B6 and C—which, when mixed with water, is designed to deliver a total hydration package.
It sounds like magic, but Dr. Thomas says there is science behind it. “The Hydration Multiplier packet maximizes water uptake by utilizing the co-transport of glucose and sodium across the abdomen and pulling water along with it,” he says. “With this optimal ratio of sodium to glucose, water is transported into your body faster than by drinking water alone.” File under: Hydration hack.
“With this optimal ratio of sodium to glucose, water is transported into your body faster than by drinking water alone.”
“I travel all the time,” says Brandin Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Liquid I.V. “I used to drink bottle after bottle of water while on flights and still get dry skin, chapped lips, red eyes, and headaches when I landed in a new city.” Now, he says the drink mix changed all that. “I never get jet lagged anymore.”
So how best to implement this new hydration plan? Dr. Thomas recommends drinking one pre-flight or during the flight, and another when you land. “You’ll feel the biggest difference when drinking Liquid I.V. after your flight because this is when your body is most depleted,” he says. “This will help you avoid those dreaded dehydration post-flight headaches and the many other miserable jet lag symptoms.”
The techy sleep solution
“Your circadian rhythm is a big reason for jet lag,” says Olivia Walch, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan and creator of the Entrain app, which has received rave reviews. “Your body’s clock is kept in sync with its environment by light, and when you shift to a new light schedule, your body struggles to adapt—or entrain, the biological term—itself to a new daily pattern.”
Entrain was created to get around that. The app tracks your light exposure, and tells you when to, well, go into the light. According to Walch, exposing yourself to light at the right times can help steer your body’s clock to a new time zone way faster than you naturally can on your own.
“If you go to a new time zone and adopt your normal light schedule [just] shifted to the new time zone, that’s often not the fastest way to adjust yourself.”
“If you go to a new time zone and adopt your normal light schedule [just] shifted to the new time zone, that’s often not the fastest way to adjust yourself,” Walch explains. “Entrain uses what we know about the clock to get you light at the right times, while telling you to avoid light at other times to avoid pushing yourself in the wrong direction.”
On the app, you just enter your starting and ending point—then calculates your own personal light calendar. Follow its instructions, Walch says, and you could be doing cartwheels in the morning and sleeping through the night—even half way across the world.
The sunlight method
Of course, when you need to be exposed to light, it might not be daytime where you are. That’s where gadgets like light therapy lamps and masks come in.
The Valkee HumanCharger is one such option due to its travel-friendly size. The headset, which even comes with its own Entrain-like app, basically looks like the earbuds you use at the gym—and emits a warm, LED light into your ears during scheduled 12-minute sessions. In theory, this light then syncs your body to its new location.
The jury is still out on the science behind the method, but fans of the device claim it has greatly reduced their jet-lag problems. And bonus: Light therapy lamps and gadgets are also rumored to be beneficial for seasonal affective disorder, too.
The new-age exercise practice
Squeezing in a workout on vacay is always worth a personal high-five—but the timing of when you sweat might matter more than you think. “Timing your exercise patterns is also important in dealing with jet lag,” says Dr. Thomas says. “This tactic is scientifically proven and has been personally tested by me.” In other words, if you normally go on a morning run, you should also try to get an a.m. jog in when you’re in Paris.
“Timing your exercise patterns is also important in dealing with jet lag.”
And then some travel pros and fitness fanatics are taking their on-the-road exercise routine one step further—and leaving their running shoes at home.
Grounding (also known as earthing) has long been a word-of-mouth game-changer, but the method is gaining new traction with A-listers like Naomie Harris and industry insiders like Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey.
All it takes is making direct contact between your bare feet and the ground. According to fans of the practice, going for a short, barefoot run on the grass (or even sand) helps you soak up the earth’s negative charge, which allegedly reduces inflammation to give you a total-body refresh. So you can hit the ground running—literally.
Top photo: Liquid I.V.