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 Healthy Travel: Jet Lag--Leavin' On A Jet Plane 
American Institute for Preventive Medicine ©

What happens when your plane arrives, but your digestive system, sleep patterns and mental alertness are left behind in another time zone? Jet lag is the fatigue, insomnia and disorientation experienced by travelers who cross several time zones and disrupt their biological clock. Precautions that can minimize the effects of the jet lag are as follows:

  1. Anti-Jet Lag Diet
    This diet starts 3 days before you leave on your trip. It is the same diet regardless of the direction of travel. The diet works like this:

    Day 1 is a "feast" day. Eat a high-protein breakfast and lunch. Have a high carbohydrate supper of pastas, potatoes, pancakes, rice and breads. Keep portion sizes smaller at dinner.

    Day 2 is a "fast" day. Confine eating to light meals of salads, thin soups, fruits and juices. Keep carbohydrates and fats to a minimum and reduce calories to 800 per day.

    Day 3 Repeat Day 1 diet.

    Departure Day - Don't eat until it's breakfast time at your destination, then eat a high-protein meal consisting of foods like meat, eggs, or beans. If this time occurs during your flight and no meal is planned, bring hard-boiled eggs and cheese with you. After landing, eat all your meals at local time. Don't go to sleep until local bedtime.

    Shortened Day Version - Make your departure day, a "fast day" like Day 2 above.

  2. Get Sunlight
    Sunlight helps prevent jet lag by suppressing the production of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone.

    Try to expose yourself to at least the same number of hours of outdoor light as the number of time zones traveled. If you are crossing over six time zones, get sunlight later in the day.

  3. Sleep Adjustment
    Traveling west? Try going to bed an hour later each night, and getting up an hour later in the morning. Do this for several days prior to the trip.

    Traveling east? Reverse the process. Go to bed earlier and get up earlier each day.

  4. Don't Nap
    After you arrive, stay awake until the local bedtime. This will help you get on the local time schedule.

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