How ‘Carb-Loading’ Prevents Jet Lag and 7 Other Tips

travel plane fly

The excitement and rush of traveling across the globe is hindered only by one thing: the annoyance and pain of jet lag. If you’ve dealt with the symptoms of adjusting to a different time zone, then know that scientists have made an interesting discovery about how you can combat jet lag. What’s the secret? Researchers at Yamaguchi University in Japan have found that a ‘carb-loaded’ breakfast may be the answer to fighting off jet lag.

The researchers conclude that foods with the ability to cause a large release of insulin are beneficial for helping your body readjust its internal clock. One example of an insuline-releasing food group are carbohydrates. In their study, published in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers wanted to test the theory that each cell has its own sleep pattern and insulin can modify the sleep pattern of each cell to ease the symptoms of jet lag.

To conduct the study, the researchers fed the mice large meals at night and recorded insulin found in the rodents’ liver cells. The scientists found that when the mice ate high-sugar foods, their pancreas secreted a hormone that effected the cells’ circadian rhythms.

“In short, insulin may help the stomach clock synchronize with mealtime,” said Dr. Makoto Akashi, one of the lead researchers, to Mail Online. “For example, for jet lag, dinner should be enriched with ingredients promoting insulin secretion, which might lead to a phase advance of the circadian clock, whereas breakfast would be the opposite.”

While the findings suggest a big breakfast can squash jet lag, Dr. Akashi warned using this remedy with insomniacs and those with type 2 diabetes, as the latter has issues producing the hormone. As with most studies, Dr. Akashi recommends more research to be conducted.

If you’re looking for ways to battle jet lag, then look no further! Here are seven great tips:

1. Change your sleep schedule. One of the easiest ways to help your body adjust to a new time zone is to slowly (and gradually) modify your natural sleep schedule. If you’re traveling to the Western hemisphere then go to bed later and if you’re traveling to the Eastern hemisphere then go to bed earlier.


2. Wear sunglasses. Your body’s internal clock (also known as the circadian rhythm) adjusts with exposure to light and darkness so wearing sunglasses or putting on brighter lights can help tweak your sleep schedule.

3. Live by ‘local time.’ While you’re on the plane, eat your meals according to your destination’s local time and try to sleep according to the local time zone as well. Bring some reading material or a movie to watch to keep yourself awake, or try to go to sleep immediately depending on your point of origin and destination.

4. Stay hydrated. Drinking water while you’re on the plane is great way to ease your jet lag since dehydration can make your jet lag experience more terrible. Try to drink a glass of water every hour since being in flight can dehydrate your skin as well.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

5. Don’t take sleeping pills. It may seem slick to take a sleeping pill and knock out for an entire flight, but that will do nothing towards keeping your internal clock in check. A sleeping pill will simply put you to sleep, but it won’t alter your circadian rhythm.

6. Spend your days outside. Upon landing, try to book activities and stay outdoors as much as possible. Staying engaged the first day you’ve landed will ensure you don’t get too tired and you are less likely to succumb to the urge to sleep.

7. Don’t adjust your sleep schedule for short trips. If you’re not going for a long trip, then adjusting your sleep schedule can do more harm than good. If it’s a weekend getaway, then try to stick to a schedule closest to your home schedule. This is will make your return easy and efficient.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.