You’re an animal!
We don’t tend to think of ourselves as being part of the animal kingdom (with our big brains and sophisticated gadgets)…but sometimes, it can be really helpful to consider the environmental factors that existed alongside our evolution when thinking of issues that come up in our body.
An example of this scenario is jet lag! Aka: many people’s’ least favorite aspect of far-away travel.
To make this super simple, we’ve condensed all of our best jet-lag-beating tips into 5 categories. But you’ll see that all of them have to do with utilizing and supporting all the things our bodies ALREADY do on a regular basis. All we’re doing is helping to boost these natural flows of the body in order to get back on track quickly and easily.
Many of these tips also apply to helping you regulate your cycle, as travel can also impact the signal that your ovaries/hypothalamus/pituitary get. Including cycle regulation in with some natural jet lag tips is the easiest way to feel full of energy and happy when you travel!
Ready? Let’s dig in!
- Use Blue Light to Your Advantage
Blue light hitting the corneas (in your eyes) is what kicks off the breakdown of melatonin in the body. (Some of this also happens on the skin level but it’s not quite as strong of a signal.) We can use this to our advantage by regulating when and how blue light hits our eyes.
The sun is an obvious and huge source of blue light…but artificial lights and electronics are also sources that we see all the time.
In order to use blue light to your advantage, do your best to step outside for at least 15 minutes whenever “the morning” is supposed to be where you are. (At the risk of stating the obvious, don’t wear sunglasses for this.) This not only breaks down the melatonin stores that are being created, but helps “teach” your hypothalamus/pituitary system to shift your circadian rhythm to the right time.
At “the night” time of wherever you are is when you’ll limit blue light coming into your eyes. This means either limiting electronics/dimming lights or wearing these oh-so-fabulous blue light blocking glasses. In a pinch, even wearing your sunglasses inside will do the trick!
This alone will do wonders for not messing with your cycle! And we even do these things in our daily lives to help our bodies out.
- Time Your Meals
Rat studies have been done looking at the effects of timed eating during travel…and the impact of that on jet lag (whatever that looks like in rats!). While the human studies haven’t been carried out quite yet, anecdotal evidence suggests that the timing of meals matters when it comes to limiting the symptoms of jet lag.
We’ve found it best to eat a decent sized meal before you travel, do a gentle fast (which means that you shouldn’t starve yourself if you’re feeling really and truly hungry) while you’re on the road, and then eat again once you get there.
If you’re getting in at night, it’s good to include some complex carbs in your meal before bed. This takes the stress of your liver and endocrine system…and sends the message that the changes to your circadian rhythm are nothing to freak out about. We love taking some plantain chips with us when we travel for this but you can use whatever complex carbs you like!
We love packing these Rise Protein Balls from our 4 Phase Cycle Detox for the road!
Rise Protein Ball Recipe: GOJI BERRY PROTEIN BALLS (makes 10 servings)
- 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
- ¾ cup sunflower seed butter
- ¼ cup ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons dried goji berries
- 3 pitted dates
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Throw all the ingredients in the blender and mix. Then form into 10 equal sized portions.
- Work Out Intelligently
Speaking of stressing the endocrine, hormonal, and circadian rhythms, let’s talk working out! Just like eating and blue light exposure, you can use movement as a way to help minimize jet lag symptoms.
Instead of going ham on your workout while you travel, you’ll want to scale back the intensity by about 25-30% and try to get in a workout in the morning. This lower intensity body movement helps keep biochemical signals and inflammation in the body steady while still helping regulate the circadian rhythm that you’re trying to set up.
You should be able to feel energized and back to your “normal” (whatever that means) self within 30 minutes of your workout. If you’re dead tired, ravenous, or have a headache later in the day, you’re likely going too intense for the amount of stress your body is dealing with.
- Supplement Wisely
You’ve probably heard of using melatonin to re-establish circadian rhythms. And while we have nothing against that supplement, we’ve seen way too many women with abnormal melatonin levels in our functional testing for Healthy Hormone Group Program that we’re quite cautious about it.
Instead, we prefer to use teas and elixirs to help boost natural processes in the body so that we feel energetic and happy during travel!
Liquid chlorophyll is a staple for us during travel and it’s an aaaamazing pick-me-up for when you’re feeling really fatigued. We normally transfer some to a 3 oz travel bottle so that it’s easy to have on hand whenever you need it. Mixing a teaspoon of chlorophyll with a couple slices of lemon and 12 oz of water makes an easy elixir that you can have virtually anywhere.
We also like using herbal teas such as peppermint or rosemary (in the morning) and lavender or chamomile (at night) as a way to supplement with whole food sources. Throwing a couple teabags in your carry on is a great way to always have them available.
Here’s our favorite Tranquilizing Tea Blend for falling asleep easily (and staying asleep)!
- Mix equal parts lavender, chamomile, and valerian root teas.
- Brew them together in 8-12 oz of hot water
- Let steep for 5-10 minutes
- Drink while you do your evening routine and relax!
- Spend Some Time in Nature
Remember that whole animal discussion earlier? Us human animals neeeeed nature in certain ways.
Just like the sun provides us with things that we can use, being out in nature creates hormonal and signaling cascades in the body that downregulates stress messengers, lowers inflammation, and regulates the central nervous system.
If you’re traveling somewhere fun, take advantage by getting outside shortly after landing. Bonus points for going barefoot! If you’re coming back home, grab a girlfriend and go out for a walk in a natural environment. Spending just 30 minutes outside can easily shift how your body responds to the change in time zones.
That’s it! Here’s hoping to healthy and happy travel!