Fasting to prevent jetlag

(updated June 2018)

I've read for years that researchers had found that selective fasting can help alleviate jet lag but I'd never tried it until this trip. The idea is simple: a day or two before you depart, you figure out when you'll be asleep in the new time zone and you fast during your pre-bedtime and sleeping hours. We were taking JAL's 787 service (trip report here) leaving Tokyo at 6pm, this meant that we had a late breakfast and then had to fast until they started serving food on board (ca. 8pm).

My husband's "hangry" fits are legendary. Like I actually carry around power bars and nuts with me entirely on the off chance he gets low blood sugar and turns into a Snickers commercial. But he loves sleep more than anything so he fully volunteered to try this if it meant better sleeping when we got back. Not eating from like 11am until 8pm was tough for both of us, but the anec-data here is that we both had virtually no jet lag. From what I've heard from friends and what we've experienced in the past, this route usually produces pretty severe jet lag.

Again, it's just one experience, but if the timing is kind, we'll probably do it again next time. I feel like we got three days of our lives back that we normally would have spent groggy and out of it.

UPDATE: We've done this now for every major timezone shifting trip and it's definitely helped us each time!

UPDATE 2: I've also tried using Provigil instead of fasting and had good results!

Another point on the topic of jetlag: Americans often use Melatonin to help reset their body clocks, but it's not legal in many places without prescription, so bring it with you if you're planning on using it.



  • There's an online fasting calculator here.
  • A Harper's article here.

Dr. K says, "Yay sleep!"


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