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Jet Lag and You: A New Cure?

Andrea Sachs

The cure for jet lag is as elusive as the cure for the hangover. In my world, water and sleep help for both afflictions, but neither is a miracle worker. However, on a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, I unknowingly snacked on a jet-lag elixir. I thought it was fresh, cold, wet air that helped ease the lag; instead, it was my fruit salad.

According to a report posted by the Cherry Marketing Institute, cherries are one of the richest sources of melatonin, the natural hormone known to regulate circadian rhythms and help restore sleeping patterns. Russel J. Reiter, a melatonin expert, and his colleagues at the University of Texas Health Science Center recommend popping a half-cup of dried cherries or one cup of cherry juice an hour before bed time on your flight. Once at your destination, continue this schedule for several evenings, depending on the time change.

(Rule of thumb: maintain for three nights for a three-hour time change, four for four-hour, etc.)

Reiter says dried cherries have higher levels of melatonin than fresh ones, but that does not mean you should turn down a piece of cherry cobbler or pie. Eat up, then slumber sweetly.

Anyone have other jet lag remedies?

By Andrea Sachs |  June 10, 2008; 6:36 AM ET  | Category:  Andrea Sachs
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So when I travel to Japan I need to eat cherries for 13 nights? That's a lot of cherries!

Posted by: CP | June 10, 2008 7:57 AM

So, after the second day, when I'm adjusted to the West Coast time, I should keep eating the cherries/snake oil?

Posted by: Kim | June 10, 2008 9:00 AM

Why not ask the Chocolate Marketing Institute if they have any hints for beating jet lag?

Posted by: Dick | June 10, 2008 11:29 AM

*double checks the date* It's not April Fool's Day?

A "cure" for jet lag wouldn't seem to require several days dosage. Over several days, you catch up naturally anyway.

Maybe I should write a study about my jet-lag "cure": stay up as long as humanly possible (easier for me, granted, because I'm an insomniac) and go to bed "early" at your new destination. Perhaps not as tasty as cherry pie, but it doesn't cost a dime.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | June 10, 2008 12:21 PM

Two things I do: 1. Take a walk around the neighborhood, especially if you're in an unfamiliar city. 2. Take a nap for a couple of hours. #1 is good because you'll get the kinks out of sitting in an airline seat for X hours, and you will get some sun after being in the darkness of a plane fuselage, especially if you're going "across the Pond" to Europe, and landing in the early AM hours.

Posted by: Shep C. Willner | June 10, 2008 2:50 PM

Jet lag is all psychosomatic

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 8:52 PM


Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 10:51 AM

I agree with the poster who is amused that the Cherry Marketing Institute found a researcher touting... cherries! Wonder if Institute or some allied outfit underwrote the study? Maybe the Garlic Marketing Institute has some ideas? My most-missed antidote to jet-lag is that I no longer can get past airport security with my two bottles of frozen Odwalla Citrus C-Monster. As it thaws, you enjoy the first one while it still is mostly frozen, like a more solid slushy or slurpee, and the second one later in the flight as a more-liquid version. This drink is far less acidic than regular OJ, so you can drink more of it. It also keepe your mucous membrane moist, so germs are less likely to settle in it and make your first few days on your trip tougher because of a new airborne illness. Overseas, my trick is to stay up that first day, and to walk outside if it's daylight. I immediately switch to eating time-appropriate meals in my new location. ALthough I eat a yogurt at home for breakfast, I eat scrambled eggs-- even in my hotel is necessary-- if it's breakfast time.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 1:21 PM

One tip that I have for going east to Europe.

Get as much sleep as you can on the plane over there. (Bring eye shades and ear plugs and a neck pillow.) Then just go to sleep during your normal hours. Do not take naps.

Posted by: charlie | June 11, 2008 3:59 PM

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