Note from Wendy: My strategy for beating jet lag when flying across an ocean is, upon landing, to make the rest of the day about getting outdoor exercise and sunlight. I walk around sightseeing all day and don’t stop moving till 8 p.m., when I collapse into bed, taking two Benadryl (the drowsy-making kind) or Tylenol PM to ensure I’ll sleep uninterrupted through the night. When I wake up circa 6 a.m., I find I’m adjusted to the new time zone. We all try different ways of coping with jet lag, though—and I got a kick out of these unusual solutions tested by Yahoo! Travel’s Managing Editor Jo Piazza. Maybe one of them will work for you.
Between June and September, I was on the road for about 20 days out of each month.
By the time October rolled around, I was completely knackered. In my years of traveling, I have learned to conquer traditional jet lag. I stay away from both alcohol and caffeine when I travel. I make sure I get eight hours of sleep a night on the road, and I try to work out for at least 30 minutes outside whenever I land in a new place.
But after hopping from time zone to time zone for three months, the jet lag starts to settle into your bones, along with complete and utter travel exhaustion. My immune system was shot. I couldn’t sleep. When I fell asleep, I couldn’t wake up. My whole body hurt in places where I didn’t know my body could hurt. I came down with bronchitis accompanied by a persistent cough that just wouldn’t go away and made mothers pull their children away from me on the subway.
Something had to change, because my travel schedule certainly wasn’t going to. I started talking to other frequent travelers, doctors, scientists, the checkout guy at GNC, and my acupuncturist, anyone who might have a suggestion for how to conquer my complete and utter exhaustion. And then I tried it all. These are the five things I attempted to rebuild my immune system and boost my energy. I’m still traveling just as much, but I haven’t gotten run down again.
1. Blue Light Therapy
Blue LED technology has been used by NASA to adjust researchers’ body clocks to stay synchronized for important space missions and research has shown that blue light can help to improve mood and energy by regulating your circadian rhythms. I got myself a Philips goLITE BLU, which is small and portable and connected to a timer so that it beams 15 minutes of blue light onto my face right when I wake up at 6 a.m. each morning. It is like Avatar every single day. I also keep one in the office timed to energy dips around 3 p.m. It has replaced my 3:30 p.m. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups habit, which was causing an unhealthy sugar spike in the afternoon. I bring it along when I travel and put it next to my hotel bed. It is smaller than my Kindle.
2. A Vitamin IV Treatment
I had heard of friends using intravenous vitamin therapy to cure their hangovers, but I hadn’t even thought about it to cure anything more than a night of too much tequila. But since I was willing to try anything, I went to Fountain Med Spa in New York City, where they customized an intravenous vitamin bag for me with vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin) to help with energy and immunity. They added vitamins B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), and B-6 (pyridoxine) to help with my metabolism, fatigue, and skin.
“Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, and only a small amount can be absorbed orally a day,” said Dr. Todd Schlifstein of Fountain, explaining why the IV treatment was more effective. “Phosphatidylcholine also helps booster your immune system, which may be lowered due to travel, fatigue, and lack of sleep. Intravenous vitamins are a quick way to recover from jet lag, fatigue, and just feeling rundown after a trip.”
I was a little scared at first. Needles! IVs! But they calmed me down with the promise of a moisturizing facial and after the initial prick, I hardly noticed that I was hooked up to the drip for the better part of an hour.
Dr. Schlifstein told me I might not feel anything right away.
“Some people feel it right after they hop off the table,” he said. “Some don’t.” I didn’t. But within a few days, I definitely noticed a difference in my energy levels. And I haven’t been sick since (fingers crossed).
I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who is the queen of supplements. If it guarantees that she will look 12 years younger or that it will make her boyfriend perform better in bed, she will buy a crate of it. And so when she recommended something called Youth H2O, I blew her off. But then I chatted with Youth H2O’s nutritionist Manuel Villacorta about what it could do for me.
“Jet lag means low energy. Your immunity is compromised, and your system is unbalanced,” Villacorta said. “Youth H2O is filled with three ingredients that are extremely potent and will get you back up to speed with one shot in this easy energy booster.” The drink, sold in shot form, contains maca, which raises stamina and focus; camu, which supports the immune system; and purple corn, which is filled with antioxidants to ward off exhaustion.
Most people think of acupuncture as a way to relieve pain and stress, but it can also do wonders for your immune system.
When we get sick, our immune system is unable to defend against the invading bacteria. Traditional Chinese medicine works to rid the body of blockages that are making the immune system work more slowly or ineffectively. I had four different appointments with an acupuncturist. She selected about 10 points—my wrists, the top of my head, my ear lobes, my belly and my feet—where the needles would help my nervous system to remove those blockages. Each session last about an hour and she gave me a delightful neck rub during each appointment.
I happened to mention my exhaustion to my friend Anabel, who is a practicing Wiccan.
“Where have you been?” she asked.
“All over,” I replied. “Ireland, Bermuda, New Orleans.” She nodded.
“It was New Orleans. You probably have a jinx.”
“A jinx?” I asked.
“A curse, a hex, a jinx.” And so she gave me a jinx-removing candle. I burned it for seven days, and I have to say, I have never felt better.