fasting to fight jetlag on our upcoming trip



I've written before about the science behind timed fasting to help your body adjust to a new timezone. We've done this on every long-haul flight since we learned about it, and our own "anecdata" is that it helps significantly.

We're heading to Tokyo soon (via Taipei, which is one hour behind Japan), so we'll start eating our meals by the Tokyo clock while we're still here at home in New York. Research suggests doing this helps your body adjust to the new timezone much quicker. In practice, this often means a 10+ hour stretch of daytime fasting. While that's annoying, it's absolutely worth it to me if it means not wasting two days in Tokyo to grogginess and sleepless nights.

Our flight leaves New York at 1:30am on Tuesday and arrives at 5:15am on Wednesday, so here's the plan:
  • Monday 9am NYC (10pm Tokyo)
    Eat big breakfast first when we wake up in NYC (aka eat "late dinner" Tokyo)

    Then fast for 9 hours

     
  • Monday 6pm NYC (7am Tokyo)
    Eat early dinner in NYC (aka "breakfast" in Tokyo)
     
  • Monday 11pm NYC (Noon Tokyo)
    Eat a midnight snack in NYC (aka "Lunch" in Tokyo)
     
  • Tuesday 4am NYC (5pm Tokyo)
    Eat first meal service aboard the plane (aka "early Dinner" in Tokyo)
    Then sleep on the plane as long as we can.

    Theoretically we should stay up five more hours until TYO bedtime, but that won't leave us enough time to get a full night's sleep before we land.
     
  • Wednesday, 6am Tokyo Time (aka 5pm NYC) If possible, eat breakfast after getting off the plane (i.e., 13 hour fast)
    Try to stay up until at least 10pm Tokyo time.
     
I also plan on using melatonin the first few nights to help with the changeover. If you're a melatonin fan, make sure you bring it with you since it's not legal over the counter in many places, including Japan.



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