Few things foil ambitious travel plans as commonly as jet lag. Over the years, scientists have experimented with a slew of solutions to mixed results: Jet lag is, after all, a multi-faceted juggernaut that no one thing, except time, can cure. To speed up your circadian shift—and feel better while you’re doing that—check out these nifty treatment options.
1. Stanley's Pharmacy Jet Lag Kit
Pharmacist Stanley George has concocted an entire day-and-night kit for jetsetters. The key for the kit’s “night” portion is the melatonin supplement, which he suggests taking about a half hour before your new time zone’s bedtime. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, the kit also provides a relaxing antioxidant-rich tea, a sleep-promoting valerian extract (add a few drips to water and drink), and a chamomile- and lavender-scented essential oil to add to a hot bath. The “day” kit has vitamin D supplements, a jitter-proof caffeinated tea, and an invigorating essential-oil throat spray—designed to get rid of that frog that surfaces in your throat from a bad night’s sleep, but also containing rosemary and sage which both can help alleviate crankiness and brain fog. (Get it at stanleyspharmacy.com; $66)
2. Litebook Edge
Natural light helps you wake up, but when you’re traveling, you may not be getting enough light to shift that body clock efficiently. That’s why light therapy machines have proven so helpful. Few are as travel-friendly as the pocket-sized Litebook Edge, introduced last December. Check the Jet Lag Calculator to know when you need to expose yourself to light; then, at the recommended time, set the Edge about two feet from your face at a 45 degree angle, and leave it on for about 30 minutes, during which time you can go about your business (you don’t need to stare at the light directly). Used properly, the Edge can shift your body clock up to six time zones in one day, as opposed to the typical one day per time zone. (Get it at litebook.com; $179)
3. Lumie Zest
Lumie, the Cambridge, UK-based company that produced the first wake-up light, has now combined that light-based alarm clock with light therapy to create one portable device. As the “dawn simulator” grows brighter, you’re gently awoken, rather than jangled by a loud harsh noise. Once you’re up, you can use the device as a light box; find out the best timing on the website’s “Jet Lag Optimizer” page. (Get it at lumie.com; about $190)
Even though light therapy can theoretically drastically reduce acclimation time if instructions are followed exactly, it’s a big if when you’ve got a packed itinerary. That’s where Entrain, an ingenious app created by University of Michigan mathematicians, comes in (it's available free on the Apple App Store or Google Play). This handy program recalibrates your light-and-dark timing when you’ve missed the original directive—just as your GPS might when you’ve missed the highway exit. The result? Dining and shopping in Shanghai with the robustness of a native—within three days of landing as opposed to 12.
5. The Organic Pharmacy Jet Lag Pills
Legions of celebrities—including Jessica Alba, Rosamund Pike, and Minnie Driver—swear by The Organic Pharmacy. The line’s jet lag offering helps combat symptoms of the brain fog and sluggishness you feel when your circadian rhythm is out of sync: Arnica is an anti-inflammatory, while cocculus can help normalize levels of stress and hunger hormones and improved alertness and motor abilities. (Get it at theorganicpharmacy.com; $19)
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