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Tart Cherries Combat Jet Lag

Here I am walking through the market in Tel Aviv.

Jet lag doesn’t have to be an unavoidable byproduct of traveling if you eat some dried tart cherries.

My family recently returned from a fantastic family reunion on the other side of the world. It was a short vacation – only 10 days – without a lot of time to spare recovering from jet lag from the 20+-hour travel day and 9-hour time difference from our home in Colorado. Jet lag can be a serious bummer when you only have a short amount of time to enjoy a distant locale.

Dried cherries contain melatonin, which is known to help encourage and regulate sleep. My family ate the cherries while my sister’s family on the same itinerary didn’t. Besides a few early mornings in the beginning when we all woke up around 4 or 5 am, my family was generally on-schedule and feeling good within a day or two. Because of the nature of a city vacation, my kids stayed up later and slept longer in the mornings than they do at home, which worked perfectly for our plans.

My sister’s family struggled more with the effects and discombobulation of jet lag. Given: a toddler with jet lag can thwart all best efforts to re-set everyone else’s clocks. Yet, I feel as if my family handled the jet lag better. It’s possible the cherries helped, along with some of the other strategies we employed.

Tips for Minimizing Jet Lag

1. Sleep as much as you can on the plane. Take your cues from the in-flight schedule for dinner service, and aim to be asleep within an hour after dinner is cleared.

2. Eat a handful of cherries an hour or so before you’d like to sleep, trying to come as close to your new local time as possible, and they will help you sleep more deeply and longer, getting you closer to your target schedule. Do this until you are on-schedule with your new time-zone.

3. After you arrive at your destination, try not to nap or sleep when it is not nighttime, and try to stay awake during daylight hours as much as possible. Push yourself to stay awake until you simply can’t stay awake any longer. Then sleep through until it is morning, or as close as you can get to morning.

4. During the day, get outside and open your eyes to the sunshine as a cue to your body to adjust your internal Circadian rhythm.

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