Fasting helps ease jet lag

By Lauren Edwards • Published: August 13th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat



f you’ve ever been on a long plane ride to a different time zone, you know what it means to be jet-lagged. That tired, “blah” feeling you get can throw off your sleep pattern for days, sometimes putting a damper on your whole trip. But recent research out of Harvard University suggests that simply skipping out on that pre- or in-flight meal may be the key to keeping jet lag at bay. After studying the brains of mice, researchers say there is a type of internal “feeding clock” in the brain that keeps track of when it is time to eat. They say that when food is unavailable, this “feeding clock” overrides the rats’ “master clock,” keeping them awake until food is consumed. And researchers suggest this could work for humans, too.

By not eating before you board… or while on the plane… you might be able to trick your body’s internal “clocks” into keeping you alert and awake. If you have to deal with a ten-hour time difference, for example, you can fast for fifteen hours and eat when you land, triggering this “new” body clock and helping you to adjust to a new time zone more quickly.

Researchers also say that this idea of fasting may help those who have to work late nights. And although fasting may not completely eliminate jet lag, it is certainly worth waiting for dinner if it means feeling awake enough to enjoy your trip. And who really wants that plane food, anyway?