How to beat jet lag with biohacking

I am a biohacker and I’ve been biohacking for over a decade now. 

Being a practitioner for that long means that I’ve had to chart my way through the unavoidable messiness and realities of everyday life as an entrepreneur. I travel frequently for work. I speak at conferences. I hang at after-conference parties. Rarely do the lives of entrepreneurs drown in a sea of sameness.

Last month after I shared my top tips for entrepreneurs (and others!) to biohack their way to success, I was asked repeatedly over messages, emails, calls, and IRL, what I did in each of the situations that I described above. (Thank you for these conversations. We are all learning – I definitely am.) I promised to share the biohacking techniques that work best for me. 

A few weeks ago, when I traveled to Shanghai to speak at the China Hospitality Technology Alliance (CHTA) conference, I had the opportunity to practice and finetune the practices that help me deal with jet lag. There is a 15 hour time difference between my home base, Los Angeles, and Shanghai. I spoke on stage a day after landing in Shanghai. I had important discussions lined up for the day I landed back in Los Angeles.

I didn’t fly myself to Shanghai. And no, I didn’t get jet lag from this flight. Flying isn’t always stressful! Do you recognize the port I am flying over?

Here’s my current protocol to beat jet lag and stay productive longer:

#1. Before the flight

  • I shift my sleep schedules to the new time zone a day before I fly – giving my body some time to adjust, and usually giving me some uninterrupted focus time at night to clear out any pending action items. I use with the right settings to time things just right. 
  • I take supplements – Ashwagandha (an adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb) and magnesium – to help combat stress. 

#2. During the flight

  • My supplement regimen continues while flying:
    • I take a supplement that combines CoQ10 and PQQ to help maintain my energy levels. Both CoQ10 and PQQ improve mitochondrial function – read about the benefits here and here. I usually take these every 2-4 hours on the flight.
    • I rely on chamomile tea or tiny amounts of melatonin to help sleep deeply during transit. 0.3-0.5mg doses are recommended over the commonly available 1-5mg pills.
    • I keep 5,000 mcg Methyl B-12 (methylcobalamin) lozenges handy for a quick energy boost without needing to resort to the typically horrendous coffee served on planes.
    • I combine ear plugs with noise cancellation headphones to reduce the constant auditory stress of flying. With a few minutes of patience, you can even watch TV/movies this way.
    • I use compression socks/pants occasionally to help circulation
    • Drinks: I’d say skipping alcohol on flights is an absolute must – the impact of alcohol on our bodies when we fly is far worse than if we were on land. It leaves us dehydrated even more than usual flying (Surprisingly, KLM addresses this on their blog), interferes with the sleep that we need while traveling. Studies also show that alcohol disrupts REM sleep. I choose to drink lots and lots of water instead to stay hydrated. 
    • Food: I usually fast when I fly. It allows me to get through my hours of intermittent fasting easily and reset my sleep schedule. Dave Asprey explains the link between fasting and sleep with ease

When you eat, your brain makes a tight link between your sleep and light-dark cycles. Fasting activates a part of your brain called the dorsomedial nucleus that makes you less rigid with your sleep schedule. In a fasted state, you’re more able to reset your sleep schedule to match your environment, meaning you can adjust to time differences and jet lag with ease.

#3. After the flight

  • I expose my skin and eyes to sunlight when possible after landing, helping my body synchronize with the new day/night cycle and regulate melatonin and cortisol production.
  • I walk barefoot on grass after landing. This is a process called earthing. And before you laugh this one off, read about the benefits uncovered by researchers from US and Polish universities: Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons
  • While I’m not a 5am gym rat, I look to get plenty of activity or a work out in after all the sedentary time, especially if I land in the morning or afternoon.
  • This may go without saying, but no late afternoon or early evening naps. There be dragons!

These are my tips – they work for me. I’d love to hear more about what techniques work best for you. Did any of mine resonate with you?

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