Ah, jet lag. I’m by no means a jet-setter, but over the past week I had a crazy travel and speaking schedule:

  • Flew from New York City to Helsinki, Finland to speak at the Biohacker Summit
  • 17+ hour return trip from Helsinki to New York City (via a 5+ hour layover/delay in Moscow)
  • 24 hours in New York City (yay, fresh clothes!)
  • Then off to Vancouver, Canada to speak at the Superhuman Summit
  • Slept on a bench in Chicago’s O’Hare airport overnight returning from Vancouver to New York City because my Vancouver flight arrived late and missed it’s connection
  • Right back to work upon arriving in New York City
jet lag hacking
My air travel jet lag hacking setup

You’d think I would have had severe jet leg with all of the travel and time zone changes, but guess what? I had zero jet lag. None! A lot of people were amazed at my stamina and alertness (and perhaps were impressed at the fact I would wake up each morning without an alarm clock, on schedule!) and were asking for my jet lag tips so thought I would share them. Here’s how I did it:

Jet Lag Tip #1 – Reset Circadian Rhythm Using Bright Light Therapy

HumanCharger for jet lag
Resetting my circadian rhythm with the Human Charger light therapy device

Starting a few days before I depart, I begin shining bright light through my ear canals at specific times and dosing intervals to reach the light-sensitive parts of my brain and to retrain my circadian rhythm. I use a bright light therapy device called HumanCharger, which looks like an iPod nano and has little LED earbuds that contain the powerful lights. Based on your current timezone, destination, and date of travel, its companion app will tell you when to have a “dose” (short 12-minute session) of bright light leading up to your trip. Has worked wonders for me!

Jet Lag Tip #2 – Use Blue Blocking Glasses and Brain Entrainment

TrueDark Glasses for Jet Lag
Blocking out blue light with TrueDark glasses

Ok, now this one can be a bit more tricky if you will be crossing many time zones and it’s still early at your starting location. Hopefully tip #1 above will start to shift your sleep/wake cycle leading up to your flight.

If I’m supposed to be asleep but I’m not yet tired, I use blue-blocking glasses to trick my body into thinking it’s evening, and my body will begin to produce melatonin naturally. I use these TrueDark glasses which are designed to block out several offending frequencies of light (blue, some green) but if you are looking for something inexpensive, these Uvex blue light blocking glasses have worked extremely well for me.

For added protection, you can also wear a hoodie or long sleeve shirt to minimize light exposure on your skin in a brightly-lit plane. Reading seems to help me to get sleepy as well. Many people rely on melatonin supplements to help fall asleep but I personally avoid using them.

Lastly, if I absolutely must be asleep by a certain time I will use audio (there are many free binaural beats playlists on Spotify) or apps that play binaural beats, which will entrain my brain into a dream state (Theta waves) or deeper sleep (Delta waves).

TrueDark 300x250 v1

Jet Lag Tip #3 – Take Antioxidants To Fight Stress From Airline Travel

Molecular Hydrogen for Jet Lag
A few molecular hydrogen tablets added to a small bottle of water

Airline travel is really toxic to our bodies – from poor air quality to cosmic radiation while being at high altitude.

I use molecular hydrogen tablets, which are a powerful antioxidant, to help fight oxidative stress as well as help rehydrate my body. I drink a glass of water with 1 or 2 tablets before taking off, then drink one additional cup of hydrogen-infused water every 90 minutes. I will continue drinking a glass of hydrogen water 1-2 times each day during my trip. I use these molecular hydrogen tablets from Vital Reaction. Optionally you can also take some liposomal glutathione and/or Vitamin C.

Jet Lag Tip #4 – Time Next Meal to Destination (or Skip/Fast), and Stay Hydrated

I usually pack a meal on longer flights (avoid all airplane food!) and will eat my next meal when it’s lunch or dinner time at the destination. If it’s a shorter flight or traveling westbound very early in the day, I will simply fast.

The air inside of an airplane can be very dry, so you will lose water due to dehydration. I realize for many people this will result in frequent bathroom visits, but better to be hydrated!

Jet Lag Tip #5 – Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine During Flights

Jet Lag avoid alcohol

I used to use alcohol as a crutch to help me fall asleep, especially before long flights (I once flew from New York City to South Africa and put down many, many glasses of wine!) but it can contribute to dehydration and in turn hinder sleep. Likewise, caffeine can contribute to dehydration so best to avoid coffee or caffeinated beverages – but if you do, bring a fresh cup onboard from the terminal (never drink airplane coffee or tea!) and consume an equal amount of mineral water for any coffee you consume to offset dehydration.

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Jet Lag Tip #6 (Bonus!) – Sun (and Grounding) Upon Arrival

Jet Lag earthing

Ok, I’ve actually got six tips 🙂 Lastly, upon arrival at your destination try to get outside as soon as possible and expose as much of your body as possible to the sun for 15-30 minutes. Bonus points if you are able to find a park, lawn, or beach where you can take off your shoes and get in some earthing (also known as grounding), where you stand barefoot on grass or wet sand for a few minutes to take up free electrons into the body and remove static buildup.

If you arrive late, go to sleep and get your sun in the following morning. Even if it’s winter time on a cloud-covered day, it’s still enough light to get your body adjusted!

No Jet Lag!

That’s it! This is exactly how I am able to go across timezones and maintain my energy, stamina, and resilience and avoid jet lag. Even if you think this is all too much, try just a few items and see what works for you.

Tools and Resources

HumanCharger (use code QUANTIFIEDBOB to save 20%!)
TrueDark Twilight Glasses (website)
Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Glasses (Amazon)
Vital Reaction Molecular Hydrogen Tablets (use code QUANTIFIEDBOB to save 10%!)
Binaural Beats (Spotify playlist)
BrainWave: 35 Binaural Series (iTunes)
Binaural Beats Therapy (Android/Google Play)
DigiPill (iTunes/Google Play)

About Bob

Bob Troia is a technology entrepreneur and citizen scientist who is focused on the intersection of data-driven citizen science, health and wellness, human performance, longevity, and self-optimization. He has been featured on CBS News Sunday Morning, PBS NewsHour Weekend, National Geographic Explorer, CBC (Canada), SBS-TV (South Korea), Fast Company, Men's Fitness, Outside Magazine, and on many leading health and wellness podcasts.