By Dr. Ilyne Kobrin
Traveling frequently (or infrequently), you try to do all the right things to ensure you are well balanced and ready to work (or play) when you arrive at your destination. On the airplane you stay hydrated, avoiding alcohol and caffeine. At your destination you exercise and try to get your body back on its natural cycle. But you still cannot avoid suffering from the effects of jet lag.
The problem? You left home, but your body clock did not. Shortly after arriving, you are irritable and can barely form an intelligent question. The effects of jet lag occur when your circadian rhythm, or sleep-and-wake system, is thrown into a tailspin due to time zone hopping.
Symptoms of jet lag may include insomnia or extreme daytime fatigue; irritability or mood swings; digestive problems including diarrhea or constipation; difficulty concentrating or making decisions; and disruption of executive function or complex thinking. Thus, you may resort to over-the-counter or (with your physician’s approval) prescription sleep aids in an attempt to “trick” your body into the local time zone. Sound familiar?
According to research performed by NASA, it can take a full day to recover for each time zone you crossed. Many of us do not have a full day per time zone to once again feel normal or productive. There has to be a better, more natural way to get the body back into its natural circadian rhythm.
A holistic remedy to stay the effects of jet lag using the ancient principles of acupuncture has been offered by an international team of highly regarded healthcare practitioners. Led by Dr. John Amaro, it focuses on the general circulation of chi (energy) and follows the traditional Chinese medicine Horary Chart. Amaro and his team found that using an acupressure technique of tapping specified acupuncture points has the effect of resetting your circadian rhythm, allowing you to avoid the dreaded symptoms of jet lag. It is a simple, non-invasive technique that you can be accomplished yourself while on an airplane.
This involves tapping the appropriate acupuncture points based upon the current time at your final destination. This technique, the associated point locations, and their correspondence to the current times at your destination are detailed in the chart. Those schooled in acupuncture will often tap using a specially designed tool called a teishin, but you can accomplish similar results using a metal tipped pen (with the point retracted, please). Using the chart as a guide, simply locate the point that corresponds to the current time at your destination. Tap that point lightly in a series of five taps (one per second), pause for a couple of seconds, then repeat four or five times for a total of 25-30 repetitions. In this case, lightly is about the same pressure with which you type on your smartphone. Repeat this process about every two hours, moving to the next tap point/time zone combination. You should start this process once you are settled on the airplane and discontinue once you land at your destination.
Tapping your skin directly is best, but in a pinch tapping through a light layer of clothes will do (and is likely required on an airplane). Not exactly sure of an exact point location? Get close. Not sure how quickly or how hard to tap? Do what comes naturally for you.
Following basic healthful living practices of sufficiently hydrating, avoiding caffeine after midday, limiting alcohol consumption, keeping a healthy diet, and exercising when possible — particularly with travel — will serve you well. Being mindful of evening exposure to your computer, tablet and TV is also recommended, as the light emitted by these devices can have an anti-soporific effect.
As frequent business travelers, my husband and I love this technique. Will it work for you? Only one way to find out, just remember to bring a copy of this article and the chart as your guide.
Dr. Ilyne Kobrin is a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and creator of Body Messaging® – Unleased Brain Power, Applied Neuroscience programs for organizational excellence. She holds post-graduate certifications in clinical neurology, acupuncture and yoga, in addition to more than 25 years as a doctor of chiropractic. As CEO, Posture Docs LLC she is credited with being a patented inventor of the posture support marketed as Back Bean®.