Rat Racing Jetlag
A trick that seems to work

As I’ve found myself repeating the same information several times recently, and have to dig out the links in question every time, I figured it’d be useful to write this down once so I can point at it.

Jetlag is a first-world problem but can be an annoying one– in recent years I’ve found I have a particular problem getting up in the morning when flying east. So, one day, bored in an airport in the US and with only the entire Internet to hand, I thought I’d look around for an explanation at least.

I ended up coming across reports of some physiological research – in rats of course – that suggested a way to avoid jetlag. I’ve since tried it over a dozen times, and found it to work in all cases. At this point I no longer care if it’s placebo affect or a genuine explanation or something else :)

The TL;DR is: fast for >16 hours before your time of arrival, then eat as appropriate. Definitely >16 hours though – the occasions I’ve not quite managed it (at least once I miscounted and managed only about 14 hours) it didn’t seem to work as effectively.

As I interpret the information in the article, found via BBC and Harvard reports, through my “I can barely do computer science and certainly not biology” brain, mammals have two body clocks, one driven by daylight and one by metabolism. The daylight can’t be shifted quickly, but the metabolic one can be made to float by fasting. The metabolic also being a lower level clock means that, when you resync it by consuming calories, it syncs back to whatever light conditions are current.

As I say, this isn’t my area of expertise – but it seems to work anyway.

Also, because a surprisingly large (or perhaps not) number of people also ask– as far as I know and have experienced, fasting means no calories, including alcohol, even it it’s free… :)

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