One of the most common requests I see in our customer support chat transcripts is travelers complaining about jet lag and asking if a massage can help them. The topic of massage for jet lag is so commonly encountered by us that I am writing this article to give you all the information you might need when it comes to dealing with jet lag using massage therapy.
So, what is the best massage for jet lag? Aromatherapy massage using essential oils such as peppermint, lavender or ginger is ideal to combat the effects of jet lag. A Swedish or a Deep Tissue massage will also help as long as essential oils are used. Essential oils help avoid fatigue and jarring of the nerves and aid in resetting your circadian rhythm
If you have just undertaken or will be undertaking a long haul flight then continue reading as I explore ways in which you can use essential oils, massage therapy and basic precautions to minimize the effects of and ensure a smooth and quick recovery from jet lag.
Essential Oils and Massage Therapy For Jet Lag
Jet lag occurs because your body time clock is out of synchronization with your new environment, basically a disruption to your circadian rhythm. Using essential oils and massage therapy has the effect of resetting your circadian rhythm slowly and gently.
Apart from a disrupted circadian rhythm, long haul flights, crossing across at least 2 time zones, have several other negative effects on the body. The pressurized compartment causes dehydration and swollen feet and ankles, cramps, dry skin, headaches, bad breath and at times painful knees from having them pushed up against the seat in front of you!
Additionally, if you suffer from stomach problems, long haul flights can cause bloating because gases in your stomach can expand during the flight. Essential oils and massage therapy not only help reset your circadian rhythm but they also help deal with the other problems caused by long haul flights.
Using Essential Oils & Massage For Jet Lag
To directly combat jet lag get an aromatherapy massage incorporating peppermint, eucalyptus or geranium essential oils. It might be counter intuitive to get a massage before a flight, but doing this will greatly help prevent the effects of jet lag. After the massage you can even take a bath by adding 2 drops of peppermint oil to the water.
When you arrive at the destination force yourself to stay awake and go to bed at the local bedtime. However, before going to bed you should again get an aromatherapy massage. The best option for this will be a mobile massage where a massage therapist will come to you for the appointment. This has the advantage that immediately after the massage you can go to bed and the massage will have helped you relax and sleep.
If you continue to experience any jet lag even after 24 hours, again take a bath by adding few drops of grapefruit oil and repeat the process of getting a mobile massage before bedtime till your jet lag has disappeared. Typically we see our customers overcoming jet lag in under 24 hours. You can also find massage therapists who specialize in massage to relieve jet lag.
Before beginning your journey have a cup of peppermint tea or one drop of peppermint oil, mixed with one teaspoon of honey dissolved in hot water. This will help prevent any bloating that might happen during the flight.
If flying makes you anxious or irritable keep a tissue or cloth with one drop of lavender and one drop of geranium in your pocket. When you begin to feel uneasy smell the tissue, take deep breaths and relax.
Swollen Feet & Ankles
If you are prone to swollen ankles and feet during long haul flights you can use an oil made from adding 2 drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil like almond oil. Once you reach your destination or before landing you can use this oil to massage your feet and ankles in an upward motion going from your ankles to the bottom of your calves, both on the front and back. This will prevent and eliminate any swelling of the ankles and feet.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol on the flight. Ensure you drink lots of water to stay hydrated and drink fruit juice provided in the cabin to keep your sugar level up.
Other Ways To Get Over Jet Lag
Apart from massage therapy and using essential oils there are several precautions you can take to prevent and get over jet lag.
One of the primary ways to eliminate jet lag is to ensure your circadian rhythm is aligned with your local destination. You can force this to happen by replicating the sleep schedule of your local destination at home before you fly out. Few days before your flight you can try to go to bed and wake up at local times of your destination. However this can be rather inconvenient.
A convenient way to overcome jet lag is to manage your sleep schedule once you land at the destination. If you land during the day, avoid sleeping at all until local bedtime. Exercising during the day you land can help greatly by ensuring you are exhausted enough to sleep at night. Even if you are unable to sleep at night force yourself to get up at sunlight. In a span of 24-36 hours you would have forced your body to adjust to the local time.
If you land during the night, make sure you sleep just for a few hours till dawn and force yourself to wake up. If you follow the local destination sleep schedule for 1 day/night cycle you should be able to overcome jet lag.
Additionally follow these basic precautions:
- Stay hydrated during the flight
- Drink fruit juice to maintain your sugar level
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol on the flight
- Avoid sleeping pills on the flight
- Perform basic stretches on the flight to avoid tiredness and cramps setting in
Light exposure plays a big role in realigning your circadian rhythm. If its night time at your local destination and you cannot sleep, do not turn on the lights or use your computer. The light from your devices (laptop, mobile) will make your situation worse. Make sure to turn your devices off at local bedtime.
If you follow the above precautions you should be able to avoid the difficult symptoms of jet lag and in the worst case overcome jet lag within 24 to 36 hours.
Jet Lag Symptoms
The most common symptoms of jet lag are tiredness, frayed nerves and a misaligned body-clock (circadian rhythm). However there are several other symptoms related to jet lag:
- Swelling of the ankles and feet
- Knee/Joint pain
- Anxiety and irritability
- Lack of focus
- Lack of appetite
In addition, jet lag can enhance any other symptoms you might have. Some people continue to experience seasickness and nausea even after landing at their destination.
How do you sleep with jet lag? Once you land in a new destination you should only sleep at local bedtime to overcome jet lag. If you traveled west, stay awake till local bedtime before sleeping. If you traveled east sleep for a few hours during the dark after you land and force yourself to wake up at dawn to avoid jet lag
How do you prevent jet lag symptoms? To prevent jet lag symptoms take these basic precautions:
- Stay hydrated during your flight; Drink lots of water and fruit juice to maintain your sugar level
- Avoid alcohol on the flight
- Get an aromatherapy massage before departing and after arriving at your destination
- Once you land, only sleep during the local bedtime
Can jet lag make you sick? Jet lag causes extreme tiredness and frayed nerves. It makes your body weak. It leads to a lack of appetite and lack of sleep. All these combined can make you feel sick and nauseous. Additionally prolonged jet lag can further enhance any other symptom you are facing and lead to a weakening of your immune system