As Cindy and I prepare for the grand European Tour in July (really just England and Scotland, but “grand tour” sounds better), we are wondering how to minimize jet lag now that we’re in our sixties and late fifties. I recall when I would travel the world at a much earlier age how many of my colleagues said that jet lag would get easier to manage as I got older. So, now that I am older, what of it?
When we came back from Australia in 2015, the jet lag was tough. But that’s a 17 hour flight, with countless time zones crossed, and an international date line thrown in for good measure. Nevertheless, it seemed easier to recover from.
Here’s an interesting idea that cropped up recently at Harvard Med School: a quick fast.
In 2009, Dr. Clifford Saper and colleagues at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center identified a second “master clock” in mice that can regulate circadian rhythms when food is scarce. In essence, the body’s circadian rhythms are suspended to conserve energy.
It’s been theorized that humans may have a similar mechanism and that a brief fast may trigger a quick reset of circadian rhythms. Dr. Saper has suggested a 12-to-16-hour fast the day before and during travel. For example, if you were to take a flight from New York City to Honolulu, you would refrain from eating for a couple of hours before takeoff and during the flight, but would have a good meal as soon as convenient after landing. This technique hasn’t been tested in clinical trials, but there are many testimonials to its effectiveness in the media.
Perhaps we will try it. Anyone else have any good ideas?