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Life Extension Suggestions

Jet lag is the bane of modern travelers, but its debilitating effects can be minimized with proper planning. Eastward flight generates far more severe jet lag than westward flight, but the reentrainment procedures outlined here should work for travel in either direction. The following procedure is suggested :

  • Attempt to schedule your arrival for morning or early afternoon, if possible.
  • Attempt to depart fully rested.
  • Expose yourself to (carefully timed) bright daylight.
    • Such light exposure should not commence until two hours before normal wake time. For example, if you normally rise at 7 a.m., do not expose yourself to light at the destination until the time that corresponds to 5 a.m. at your departure point. Thus, on a seven-hour eastward flight, do not expose yourself to light until noon at your destination.
  • Take 0.5 to 5.0 mg supplemental melatonin within three hours of desired bedtime at the destination.
  • Sleep in absolute darkness, to the extent possible.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon.

To beat jet lag on a long-distance eastward trip, consider the following preentrainment procedure. This strategy requires taking action at least three days before departure. While flights across more than five time zones are of greatest concern, preentrainment may be useful for flights that cross as few as two or three time zones. For two-time-zone flights, begin two days before departure.

  • For each of the three days before departure, set the alarm for one hour earlier than usual wake time.
  • Immediately upon waking each day, expose yourself to bright light.
  • For 3.5 hours after waking each morning, including the morning of departure, alternate 30 minutes of exposure to bright light with 30 minutes of exposure to ordinary room light.
    • Perform morning chores requiring mobility (eg, showering, shaving, etc.) during bright-light phases.
    • Tasks such as working on a computer, applying makeup, or gardening outdoors without a hat or sunglasses may be completed during bright-light phases, as long as full bright-light exposure is not compromised.
  • Take 0.5 to 3.0 mg supplemental melatonin in late afternoon (3 to 5 hours before desired bedtime).
  • Attempt to retire to bed one hour earlier than usual.
  • Attempt to sleep in absolute darkness.
  • Repeat procedure, again setting wake time another hour earlier than usual, for two more days. By day three you should be waking three hours earlier than usual.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon.