This site has already discussed many aspects of Circadian Rhythm, that are all also related to Jet Lag! Thanks to NutritionFacts.org there is now a shorthand route to the latest and greatest respecting jet lag. Frankly reviewed the charts of author Dr. Michael Greger, and realized that, as is often the case, the subject is not easy, nor is the solution! Circadian Jet Lag Solutions!
Here is an analysis that is not easy to find elsewhere. But the importance of Circadian Rhythms is not lost on the likes of Messers Greger and Mercola….Frankly struggled with Greger’s charts that are comprehensive and excellent…but one really needs a non mathematical approach to remember these formulas, particularly if one is jet lagged to start with! Also notice Joseph Mercola has similarly tried to entertain a straightforward concept, which has assisted to come up with good practical shorthand advice that we just might retain in our ‘noggin’ despite jet lag!
Circadian Jet Lag Solutions! Exposure to light is probably THE best tool for effecting a change in our circadian clock or rhythm.
These changes are “phase shifts” and with proper implementation of light exposure, depending on the number of time zones traveled and the amount of adaptation required, the symptoms of jet lag will gradually disappear as one’s internal clock is adjusted optimally. The basic rule is to expose to bright light in the morning with avoidance of bright light at night when traveling East. But when traveling West the opposite is the method of attack! Bright light is sunlight or even just bright artificial light! Sometimes it is difficult to avoid light in the morning for example flying overnight from Vancouver to Heathrow…and blue light blocking glasses that have amber lenses can help, which means that melatonin levels are kept up. But personally always am self conscious with these glasses and practical advice one looks not the norm when going through immigration and customs! Maybe just take them off for that singular purpose!
Our bodies run an an almost 25 hour cycle that is readjusted very easily and automatically…that is why traveling West is easier on us because we naturally lean towards a longer natural cycle! The day in reality is getting longer anyway! Thus the less time it in fact takes to adjust as was pointed out in our previous article! When traveling to Hawaii from the West Coast of North America with a one day anticipatory one hour shift in bed and rise time…the remaining two hours difference is almost immaterial. Half the difference is accomplished in one day! But traveling East it is a longer process as the day in reality seems much shorter! It is the master biological clock that is inside the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN located in the hypothalamus that is really affected by light and darkness signals and instructs the pineal gland to secrete or otherwise melatonin that promotes sleep or wakes one up at the end of the sleep cycle respectively. Flying east requires a phase advance of the circadian clock, and flying west requires a phase delay. For example, when it is early in the day in the U.S., it may already be approaching nighttime in Europe. This is when one is trying to phase advance one’s clock so that one naturally will tend to go to sleep earlier!
An example again would be the Vancouver to London trip…with eight time zones difference…avoid light initially from 6 am to noon and expose oneself to light in the afternoon…and advance this one to two hours each day thereafter! Now melatonin administration by way of supplement can also help to achieve earlier sleep…but what I found brilliant is the research of Michael Greger into melatonin…the supplements are unreliable it seems to say the least BUT a natural supplement, and almost singularly and uniquely in the plant kingdom, is pistachio nuts…and you only need some three to five nuts to accomplish the task! Incredible…but take them say with your so called evening meal…which advance as much as possible in the Eastward scenario…and you have the double whammy!
To quote from Mercola who is quoting from the BMJ Clinical Evidence “After a westward flight, it is worth staying awake while it is daylight at the destination and trying to sleep when it gets dark. After an eastward flight, one should stay awake but avoid bright light in the morning, and be outdoors as much as possible in the afternoon,”
Also one can similarly prepare for the flight Eastward..try to wake earlier and put all the bright lights on…! and try to get to sleep over two to three days by a couple of hours earlier and take that melatonin…I personally prefer the pistachios! Have them with the evening meal and try to advance that by an hour or two! Magnesium is good to take in the evening!
Other tips…personally believe in the power of exercise to readjust one’s clock…When you get up…I am talking East bound now…and Circadian clock advances each day towards sunrise! Once you go out…why not exercise…running…or gym…and try to ground…all these tricks help! Remember if you do use a melatonin pill use just a little! half of half of half a pill of the normal 5 mg!! ideally not more that 0.25 to 0.5 mg! Also when sleeping and if one gets up during the so called night…keep the lights off…that keeps the subliminal melatonin production trickling! and not suddenly shut off! Circadian Jet Lag Solutions!