Interviewed by Kate Cheng
Whether or not we like to admit it, our bodies thrive on routine. Ever notice how after a weekend of sleeping in, that Monday morning wake-time can be particularly difficult? Among other things, it’s because when we shake up our routine our body gets confused.
Now imagine adding a new element to the mixture: time zone changes. Not only is your 24-hour day thrown for a loop, but your body is also experiencing light exposure on a different schedule. Those lovely little circadian rhythms are light responsive. You can think about it this way: When your cave-man (and woman) relatives went to sleep in the darkness, the sun would eventually rise, signaling to them to rise, hunt, and gather. Then the sun would set, and your light-sensitive pineal gland would begin to secrete melatonin in response to the darkness. This was their cue for some shut-eye.
While we can’t do anything about changing time zones while traveling, we can use this knowledge to support our bodies in finding balance after being thrown for a loop. The more love your can give your body through the tips below, the quicker you can support it in finding it’s own natural homeostasis.
Here are a few nutritional tools you can keep handy for time post-red-eye-flight:
Yes, it’s trite but the air on planes is dry and the best way to replace this is by drinking water. Aim for ½ your body weight in ounces plus 10 ounces for each 30 minutes you exercise. So if you’re 150 lbs you’d drink at least 75 ounces of water, etc. Even better? Make sure you’re drinking LOTS of water while on the plane. Note: Alcohol and coffee are fun, but they will exacerbate the dehydration.
Mineralize Your Body
When your body is stressed out from erratic changes (like when you travel), you oftentimes enter an acidic state and deplete the body of minerals like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium. When we are depleted of minerals (especially combined with dehydration), we tend to get headaches and a drop in energy. You can make a simple natural mineralizing drink by mixing together water with lemon juice, honey, sea salt, and baking soda. Here is a recipe I love that you can make at home: Jennie-ADE.
Know what else is mineralizing and alkalizing? GREENS. Think about it—your body is deprived of oxygen during and after a flight. Raw fruits and vegetables contain H2O—the key element there being Oxygen. The chlorophyll in green vegetables allows the oxygen to more easily be transported into your blood. You don’t have to like all greens—instead try focusing on the ones you DO like, whether it’s broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, cucumbers, snap peas, or some other green goodness.
Fill In Nutritional Gaps
Eating while traveling can be difficult, especially when you’re limited to what’s around you or a lot eating out at restaurants. Sometimes our energy gets zapped, simply because we become nutrient deficient. Ideally take your vitamins with you to prevent such a sharp dip, but once the damage is done you can fill in nutritional gaps by taking a quality multivitamin. I take these packets for traveling and on-the-go and they give me an instant pick-me-up: Vitamin Packets.
Drinking raw green juice can be a quick way to replenish nutrients as well and get a quick dose of greens. Since the fiber is removed, it allows instant transfer of the minerals and nutrients into your body. Additionally you’ll give your digestive tract a break and chance to heal itself after [perhaps] one… or ten indulgences. Raw Generation has some of my favorite raw juices.
We talked a bit about your circadian rhythms and how melatonin is naturally produced as it gets darker out. When we travel between time zones our melatonin production can become compromised. Try dimming the lights as your bed time approaches, ideally as the sun goes down, and if you want to give your brain a little boost of support, take a gentle viable melatonin like this one here: Melatonin.
Most importantly, give yourself time to relax when you get back from a flight. By jumping back into work too quickly you’re only going to add to the stress, and potentially set your body up to really crash or get sick. When we’re tired or sick, that’s our body’s way of making us slow down. If we can anticipate the drain after a red-eye flight and plan for some relaxation time, we can in effect set ourselves up for subsequent productive days. It’s sacrificing in the short-term for long-term gain.
And yes, you DO deserve a vacation from your vacation.