tldr; Beat jet-lag by fasting for 16 hours then starting to eat at normal mealtimes

As I write this, I’m sat in a Texas hotel bar waiting for another 45 minutes until I can eat again. I haven’t eaten for over 15 hours; I’m hungry but I don’t want jet-lag tomorrow.

I’ve been doing this since 2009. I was preparing to travel to LA for 5 days for a intensive project kick-off. I’d experienced jet-lag previously, when visiting San Francisco on holiday, and it took about 4 days to get over that. I was not looking forward to trying to function properly while suffering from that.

A couple of days before departure I happened to watch a TV programme, in which 2 people returning from the US experimented with jet-lag. One person ate normally; the other fasted throughout the journey and resumed eating at normal meal times. It was a small experiment but the results were interesting. The fasting person was up and chirpy the morning after travel; the other was a less pretty site. More impressively, blood samples showed the one who had fasted had normal melatonin levels for the UK timezone, while the aeroplane meal-guzzler’s levels were still in Atlanta.

It was experiments on the sleep rhythms of mice, that led to this idea for a jet-lag fasting cure. When food is plentiful, then it makes sense to entrain your sleep patterns to the light-dark cycle. When it is scarce, however, it makes better evolutionary sense to be awake when food is around.

Of course I followed the fasting plan on the LA trip and experienced a magical lack of jet-lag. I’ve been doing it ever since. If you don’t like jet-lag, I’d suggest doing the same.

Thanks to Sam Elliot for (sort-of) reminding me that I no longer had this written up anywhere. I’m glad it worked form him on his trip to and from Seattle.