Lift Jet Lag Faster

Many empty-nesters and retirees are already planning their warm-weather getaways – winter is coming regardless of how warm we find these early fall days.  But long-distance air travel can take a toll on older adults, leaving many people with deep fatigue and brain fog.  A hearty breakfast after a flight may help seniors bounce back faster from jet lag, according to new research. 

As recently reported by The Washington Post, a new study found that eating a heavier breakfast in the time zone of the final destination can help older adults reset their internal clock and experience less jet lag.  Avoiding a late-night meal the night before travel will also help speed recovery from long-distance travel.  

Our 24-hour circadian clock works within our brain to steer our bodily functions, including sleep.  This internal clock is influenced by exposure to natural sunlight, food, and physical activity.  As we age, our internal clock can be more sensitive, and more easily thrown out of whack – perhaps in part because the lenses of our eyes yellow in later life, leading to changes in how we perceive light and brightness.  These changes can lead older adults to have trouble driving at night or need a brighter light to read clearly. 

In addition to eating a healthy and substantial breakfast upon arrival, spending time outdoors in natural sunlight is beneficial to help re-establish a good circadian rhythm that combats fatigue and brain fog.  Maintaining a regular schedule, and eating a big breakfast at the same time each morning can reduce recovery time from jet lag by up to two days, according to research models. 

Researchers also advise avoiding in-flight meals, especially late at night, and waiting until arrival in the new time zone to eat a healthy breakfast.  Most likely, the food will be better and healthier at the destination than on the plane anyway.  Can you smell the toast and coffee yet?