Jet Lag Cure

October 26, 2012

suitcases lined up blair family

By Gabrielle.

I’ve been such a globetrotter lately, this article about jet lag caught my eye. A Harvard professor did a study about sleep and food. He said we all have a natural circadian clock that responds to light and tells us when to wake, eat and sleep. But he noticed what was apparently a second clock — one that takes over when there’s not enough food. His theory: if you fast for about 16 hours before you land in the new time zone, and eat your next meal at the local meal time, you’ll avoid most of the jet lag symptoms. Isn’t that fascinating? You can read more here.

One drawback: I don’t think I would be very good at fasting for 16 hours! I’d love to know if you’ve tried this method. Did it work? Any other favorite methods for getting adjusted to a new timezone quickly?

P.S. — The luggage we bought for our move to France has held up so well! I highly recommend.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ali October 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

i had to fast 12 hours once, and i about died. i was so grumpy that my husband said we may never be rich, but i will always make enough money to feed you. there is no way i could do 16 hours. no way at all.


2 Cassandra October 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I always hear “drink lots of water” but it’s never done me much good. I’m nursing a baby right now and get so lightheaded after just a couple of hours without food, I don’t think I could do 16.


3 Angela October 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I tried it on a flight to Europe this summer and it worked! The trick was to have a big meal right before getting on the plane (and maybe a cocktail!) and then sleep for a good chunk of time. Fasting for that long seems like a lot, but most of us go at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Sleeping is key.

I’m about to test the plan out again on a trip to China.


4 My Traveling Troop October 26, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Hmmm…. What would be worse for me on a trip: fasting or jet lag? I think I’d definitely take jet lag over fasting. I love to eat! :)



5 Linda October 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I have!!! When my husband and I were dating, I traveled to England (where he was studying) to meet up with him. I had 5 days and already an experienced overseas traveler, I didn’t want to endure jet lag for days. I did try the food/fast thing and it worked pretty well. I wasn’t up at until strange hours. Although, I have found that Whole Food “Restful Sleep” if you take the full dose is also equally effective for jet lag. But yes, if you’re not in the situation for a lot of valeraian and other herbs, this works pretty well.


6 Barchbo October 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I could do it – heck, I didn’t eat for 24 hours when I was in labor! Seems like sleep would be key. If I ate a huge meal with lots of protein and slept some it would be easier.

Now I just need a trip somewhere to test it out!


7 Sara October 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I think there is something to the “mind over matter” approach when it comes to jet lag. I spent three months commuting between London and Western North America (would fly over, be there for 1.5 weeks, fly home for long weekend and then back again) and I didn’t really get jet lagged at all. I always ate before I left and no naps midday and did just fine sleeping on the changing schedule.


8 Kate October 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

When I told my husband about this he said he would rather be tired than hungry. :-)


9 Traveling Mama October 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

We usually have our favorite “last meal” in the US (or here if we are traveling back) and then I have such issues with motion sickness that I just don’t even have an appetite anyways. I never really thought about that somehow helping with jet lag, but I haven’t suffered from jet lag in over a decade and we travel all the time!


10 Krista October 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

Being hungry is the fastest way to being in a bad mood. Traveling (espeically with kids) and being in a bad mood seems worse than jet lag to me.


11 Catherine October 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm

But what about with children? I just flew from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Salt Lake City, UT with my toddler and 8 month old. That is a 10 hour difference. We are 6 days into jet lag and still struggling but I don;t know how fasting with be possible for the children (or me. since I’m breast feeding I am so hungry).


12 Miss B October 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm

This must be why jet lag is not a huge issue for me when I go to Europe — I hate flying both because of irrational anxiety issues and also because it makes me feel mildly ill the entire time in a variety of ways, so I never eat right before a flight, and I don’t usually eat much of anything during the flight, either, I just read in between napping as much as I can manage. And then the first thing I want when I get to where I’m going is a decent cup of tea or coffee, so by the time I have a real meal it’s probably been close to 24 hours since my last one. This is also why my eating schedule is always so erratic when I’m travelling…but I sleep really well at night!


13 Stella October 28, 2012 at 3:33 am

I think if I didn’t eat for 18hrs I’d be way more miserable then I would be from the jet lag. I actually kinda like the jet lag coming to the states (I live in Europe), its something about those early mornings. Coming back however… I think eating and drinking light while you travel and trying to adjust to your new time zone as soon as possible is just the best way to go.


14 Emily October 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

I’m of the “mind over matter” mindset, also. I’ve flown from Chicago to London several times and I usually arrive in the early morning even though my body thinks it’s in the wee hours of the morning. I make myself get some coffee and fruit and continue my day as normal. I make myself have a normal day and just go to sleep a little bit earlier. I will say that it’s typically more difficult for me coming back to the States, but I follow the same rules. Sleep at night, stay awake during the day.


15 Miss Lindsey D October 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

hmmm very interesting idea, wish I had more overseas travel to test it out on. We have to agree though that fasting for 16 hours would be incredible tough!


16 senja October 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I actually also heard somewhere that you shouldn’t eat during travels but I just cannot do that.. I rather have a few rough days :)


17 Mary October 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Flying to Germany in December & will give it a try! Running a half-marathon just a few days after I land so hoping this works! Thanks for a great tip.


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