Jet lag cures | How to avoid the exhaustion

I've just got off a British Airways flight to Dubrovnik. I am speechless, which is rare for me. What have they done to our national carrier? There is a new seating layout that makes Ryanair and EasyJet, once at the bottom of everyone's list, look, well, like British Airways used to. Flying is not what it used to be. It’s a plane nightmare, and a recipe for jet lag hell!  

Be warned before you book - BA has added numerous 'extra' rows. We were wedged into our seats, three each side of the aisle. My knees were sticking into the man in front's back so hard I thought they might bruise. I haven't been so squashed since I booked an Air China flight 20 years ago, blithely unaware that all their seats were sized for tiny Asians rather than lumping Europeans.

Next time I want to be cramped I will certainly give BA's substantial fares a miss in favour of Ryanair's £9.99 to almost anywhere. Maybe there is room for 3 'low cost' carriers, but I think Alex Cruz, the new BA CEO who keeps winging me emails that directly contradict my own experience of his service, may have got his model wrong. We will see...

Ranting about BA distracted me from the original point of this blog - which was to share my tips to avoid jet lag. They really, really work if you do them faithfully. And I would do anything to avoid those days and days of upside down sleep patterns. What's a few odd looks when you know you will be sleeping peacefully whilst your not so on-the-ball flight companions toss and turn for nights on end?

Jet lag and meridian tapping

Why odd looks you may be wondering? The key to sorting the jet lag is to gradually reset your body clock over the period of your flight, aligning it to the time of your destination, so that when you arrive you are already in sync with your new time zone. You do this by adjusting your meridians, tapping on them with a steady but firm pressure at regular two hourly intervals. It sounds strange, and looks odd, but it's very simple, and it absolutely works.

How to do tap meridians to avoid jet lag

As you are sitting on the plane in your seat ready for take-off, work out the current time at your destination. Set your watch to that time. Then simply refer to the chart below and tap as described for the time it is there now. So, if you are on the 7pm flight from LA to Tokyo, it is actually 12 noon in Tokyo the next day. So, start by tapping the Heart point (which dominates 12 noon) because that is the current time in Japan.

Every two hours tap on the next meridian in sequence – i.e after heart, 2 hrs later tap on small intestine, and then 2 hrs after that on bladder, kidney etc. until you reach your destination. Tap firmly and evenly, at least 20 times on both sides of the body at the points described. If you miss a meridian or two because you are sleeping, that's no problem. Just keep tapping whenever you briefly wake.

The Meridian Sequence - where and when to tap

1-3a        Live             Liv-       Big toe, on inside nail bed of toenail

3-5a        Lung.           Lu-       Inside wrist (thumb side) where watchband would be         

5-7a        Large Int.     LI-        Nail bed of index finger closest to thumb

7-9a        Stomac    ST-3  Under kneecap, slightly towards outside

9-11a         Splee         SP-      Inside edge of foot, just behind ball of foot

11am-1p  Heart.          HT-     Palm – where bent little finger touches palm

1-3p        Small In       SI-       Little finger side of wrist, in fold where wrist moves

3-5p        Bladde      BL-6  Outside of foot, second joint on baby toe

5-7p        Kidne        KI-1     Behind the knee

7-9p        Pericardiu CX-     Centre of palm of hand

9-11p         San Jia    TH-     Top of forearm, 1/3 of way between wrist and elbow

11pm-1a  Gall Bladde GB-4Outer side of foot, 1/3 way between baby toe and heel

There are a couple of other things I always do on long flights, so my subconscious automatically 'knows' it is primed and safe to sleep. I used to notice that hale and hearty though I was when I started off my journey, by the time I arrived at my destination (or shortly afterwards) I would go down with some lurgy. Presumably either caught from my next door sniffly travel companion, or from the repeatedly re-circulated bug filled air in the plane. 

Miniature ioniser for airline travel

To save myself days of sickness I invested in a 'personal ioniser', the A302 AirTamer, which you hang around your neck while it blows a steady stream of healthy negative ions into your lungs. Not only do you sleep better on the plane, surrounded by freshened air, but you give yourself the best protection as onboard bacteria and viruses do their best to invade your space. It costs around £70 which is a not insignificant amount, but if it saves you from spending the first two or three days of your holiday in bed, it's worth every penny, and will last your entire holiday lifetime.

Essential oils that help with jet lag

For a less expensive but just as effective antiviral, try 'The Shield' essential oil, and rub it on your hands and around your neck and face before you take off. Made by a French company, Almarome, the combination of oils is specifically designed to protect you from viruses and bacteria in crowded situations and long plane journeys are a perfect place to try it out. Rub it on your skin, or sniff it and watch those bugs back off!  

The anti-microbal activity of essential oils has been well studied. Researchers at Metropolitan University of Manchester found that essential oils (Tea-Tree, Patchouli, Lavender, Geranium and Citricidal) quickly killed and inhibited the growth of three different strains of MRSA bacteria. They studied the oils singly and in combination and also, as the results were different in each case, whether the vapour or direct contact was most effective. 

Research scientist Dr.Jean C. Lapraz states that he couldn't find any microbe that could live in the presence of the essential oils of cinnamon or oregano. 

Professor Griffon, Director of the French Police Toxicology Laboratory conducted texts to assess the antiseptic effect of a blend of essential oils on airborne microbes. He left a number of Petri dishes in an open room for 24 hours. Microbes from the air settled in the open Petri dishes and formed colonies. He then analysed what had grown in the dishes and found 210 colonies of various microbes including harmful moulds and staphylococci. He then sprayed a blend of essential oils into the air in the room. Within 30 minutes 206 colonies had been killed and only 4 were left, none of which were harmful. 

Jet lag: Sleep in the dark

Last but not least, I always put on the free eye mask they usually include in the long distance goody bag, along with the special socks and lip salve. I never used to bother until I read the statistics. According to research by the National Institute of Sleep, using a sleep mask and ear plugs can reduce the time it takes you to get to sleep and you wake less frequently too. Anything that reduces jet lag is worth a try, and this definitely helps.

Try them, one at a time or altogether, and beat jet lag once and for all. And if getting on the plane in the first place is an issue for you, if you suffer from panic attacks and fear of flying, then listen to the video from this months ReBoot Hero, Emma Roberts (interview coming soon), for her tips for overcoming the problem.  Remarkably, her therapy has helped numbers of people put their plane phobias behind them.

Read more from our series on sleep: