Everything You've Been Doing to Fight Jet Lag Is Wrong

Nope, it's not popping Ambien or messing with your bedtime.

How many remedies have you already tried to banish the truly awful feeling that is jet lag? Put away those serious sleep drugs — this approach is likely to be the most effective bet of all.

According to a scientific research paper from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, it's actually our approach to food — not sleep — that can best help our body clocks set to the appropriate time zone. According to the paper’s abstract, “When food is plentiful, circadian rhythms of animals are powerfully entrained by the light-dark cycle. However, if animals have access to food only during their normal sleep cycle, they will shift most of their circadian rhythms to match the food availability.” 

So instead of just cycles of light and darkness, our body clocks respond to the scarcity of food. And in fact, the response to food is more powerful than the response to light or its absence. What does that all mean? It means you can set your body clock for the appropriate time zone by fasting for 16 hours before a trip. And such an approach can be a much faster way to help prepare for a jet-lag scenario than tweaking your bedtime for days ahead of a big trip, something many people try as their go-to approach, according to a Forbes story applying the 2008 study to jet lag applications.

To try it yourself, time the fast to end with breakfast at your new destination, which will send the signal to your body that it's the appropriate time to get the day started. And remember, 16 hours without food doesn't seem that long when you consider you'll likely be sleeping for half of it!

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