Ease the Jet Lag

It only gets worse as we age. Here, expert tips for keeping jet lag at bay.

Studies suggest that people over 50 have more trouble with time zone changes. Symptoms include sleep disruption, cognitive impairment, headaches and digestive upset.

According to Dr. James MacFarlane, director of education for the MedSleep clinics across Canada, these symptoms arise because we are governed by our body’s natural rhythms, which shorten as we age, and which get disrupted when we try to function in a new time zone.

“One time zone change [usually an hour forward or back] won’t throw you off,” he says. “Three time zones are where it begins, and then gets worse, to where you completely invert your rhythm.”

Going west seems to have less of an effect than going east, as the traveller’s first day is lengthened and the body’s natural rhythms can extend more easily to fit the new schedule.

To adapt quickly, MacFarlane recommends immersing yourself in the new time zone and eating food that is familiar to you (skip the all-you-can-eat breakfast if you’re a coffee-and-cereal person). Try to work out around your usual time in the time zone you’re in. And expose yourself to bright outdoor light at the time of the first meal of the day. Food and light “are the two most powerful cues to resynchronize your biological clock,” he says.

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MacFarlane says melatonin may help. Take it the day before you leave – at the bedtime in the new time zone to which you are going. Continue when you get there. Jamieson’s Melatonin-3 Fast-Dissolving Strips dissolve under the tongue for quick absorption.


Many hotel spas offer treatments that fight the stress of travel, like the Toronto Thompson Hotel’s 889 Yoga & Wellness Spa exclusive Jet Lag Reliever. The 75-minute massage invigorates and detoxifies, which can aid digestion and boost immunity. The custom Jet Lag Essential Oil contains revitalizing peppermint, calming lavender and grounding sandalwood.

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Your skin can also be affected by the disruption of biological rhythms and dehydration from flying. To soothe a dry, irritated complexion, apply Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque the night you arrive in your new time zone and the night you get home.