Using The Circadian & Digestive Connection To Overcome Jet Lag

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One of the most difficult things to overcome when travelling across multiple time zones is jet lag which can leave you operating at suboptimal levels. The good news is, there is an evolutionary solution to this problem which can have you back to top speed within a short space of time.

East vs West Medicinal Practices

In the western world we tend to break the human body down into its constituent parts. There are doctors in all aspects of medicine who spend years of their life studying a tiny part of the body so they can become a specialist in that area. Asian medicinal practices tend to take a more holistic view of the human body recognising every part is interconnected with other parts. If you pull on something from one side, there is an equal and opposite reaction from another.

I prefer to think of the body in that way. Not only because it’s easier to understand actions and reactions, but also because it makes more sense for the logical brain. With the logical brain switched on, let’s dive into the theory.

The Circadian and Digestive System

There are various systems within the body that function along their own planes but also interconnect with each other. Two of those systems are the circadian and digestive for sleeping and eating, which work together to raise and lower sleep and hunger signals throughout a 24 hour period. 

The circadian rhythm is difficult to manually control as you are at the mercy of the sun rising and setting each day. The digestive system however is fully controllable by the food you put into your mouth. Therefore, by manually manipulating your digestive system, you can wrestle a semblance of control over your circadian rhythm and bring your body into a time zone faster after a long haul flight.

Seven Hour Time Zone Change Example

I heard Sal mention this on a Mind Pump podcast many years ago. This is how it works, and this is the method I’ve used on multiple occasions which has been successful each time. All it takes is some self control from eating, which admittedly is easier said than done when you are on a plane with free food being served.

This is how I apply the theory to flights from Hong Kong to Europe:

  • Hong Kong departure time: 23.00
  • London arrival time: 0600
  • Time zone change: 7 hours

This is actually a relatively easy example to understand. But once you understand the theory, it can be applied to any flight departure and arrival time.

If we assume for argument’s sake that a usual dinner time is 8pm, and a usual breakfast time is 8am, you can begin to see how this can work.

For this flight, I would have my dinner (last meal of the day) at the airport before I board. This would mean I have pushed my usual dinner back an hour to 9pm. 

The key now is to not eat the first served meal on the plane. Because by the time that first meal is being served it is after midnight, and your digestive system is simply not used to digesting food at that time. Therefore, if you do not eat that first meal, your circadian rhythm assumes it is your normal sleeping time and you can fall asleep as you usually would.

Next is to realise your digestive system will awaken once you eat the next piece of food, once you break your fast. The awakening of your digestive system will tell your circadian system that this is morning breakfast time.

I then take the breakfast on the plane before landing, which is effectively 4am UKT, waking up your digestive system and circadian systems accordingly.

An even better strategy which I have tried before, is to skip the plane breakfast also, and take breakfast after you land around 8am which aligns immediately with the local time zone.

The Sun Effect

The final step to bring your body into the local time zone is to ensure you get as much sun on your face and skin as possible that first day. The sun is aligned to our circadian rhythms, and our evolutionary brains automatically read the position of the sun to recognise the time of day. So by showing your eyes and body to the sun, you are telling your circadian rhythm the real time of the day.

Results

Once again this is a sample test size of one which has only been applied on night time flights leaving Asia, arriving early morning in Europe. It is nevertheless a strategy I have used successfully on multiple occasions. Different flight times would require different strategies. But with logical thinking applied to this theory, jet lag can be overcome faster allowing you to be at peak performance for your business and personal needs.

Think logical human evolutionary theory to Live Smarter, Live Stronger & Live Longer.

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