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The older I get, the more I’m affected by jet lag, which is not a good thing for someone who makes his living in the travel industry.
Over the years, I’ve tried every drug from Ambien to Xanax; gone the homeopathic route with melatonin and herbs; tried starving myself, avoided alcohol, and experimented with caffeine. I’ve tried sleeping with hotel room drapes open and taking long walks in the sunshine upon arriving. I even tested an oversized visor with a battery-operated light under the bill that was supposed to offer some sort of “light therapy.”
The sad news is that none of them really worked. I still get that prickly, woozy, sweaty feeling on my first few days overseas. I sleep soundly for an hour or so, then lie awake in bed for the rest of the night, and then feel sorta hollow the next day. YUCK!
So every time I hear about a new substance or practice (other than denial) that might help ease the pain of jetlag, I’m eager to learn more.
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There was much talk among the international travel crowd this month when the New York Times ran a story about a new jetlag drug called Nuvigil, on the market since last June.
Nuvigil is not a sleeping pill. Instead, it is a stimulant that travelers can take to treat the daytime sleepiness associated with jetlag—it does NOT help shift the body’s clock to a new time zone. (Nuvigil and its precursor, Provigil, are frequently used by people who suffer from narcolepsy and sleep apnea.)
Nuvigil’s maker, Cephalon, has plans to sell the drug to frequent business travelers—those who might pop over to Europe for a couple of days of meetings and then return. The Times article reports that in clinical trials among adults flying to Paris from the east coast, those who took Nuvigil did not nod off during the day as quickly as those who took a placebo.
I asked physician Jim Braude, who travels to Europe several times each year, for some insight and he said, “These drugs work by somehow stimulating the brain (although the mechanism is not clearly defined), and can cause heart palpitations and raise blood pressure. So as much as I personally want to eliminate jet lag, I’m not ready to try these given the risk/benefit formula.”
Several readers have used Provigil, but not the new Nuvigil. TravelSkills reader Matt reports, “I use Provigil. It works well at keeping you up with out giving you the jitters. I can see how it can help when you first get some place and need to make it through the first few days until you get adapted to the new time zone.”
Another reader, MG, wrote, “I have used Provigil for almost a year now, and find it to be a ‘miracle’ drug for jetlag as well as many other ailments. It is astonishing! Somewhat like a stimulant in its results, it has almost no side effects and is a completely beneficial option for dealing with stresses to both the body and mind. Insurance companies (mine, two different ones) are reluctant to pay for it and it is quite expensive.”
Hmmm. I’d still like to try Nuvigil, but I think I’d experiment first on a trip that did NOT include an important meeting.
Since I’m alway curious to try anything to help with my jet lag issues, I’m considering trying a new herbal concoction for an upcoming trip to Tokyo made by Mountain View acupuncturist and herbalist Ted Ray. He says he’s “tested his Jet Lag Formula on Silicon Valley executives for about seven years and almost all notice an improvement in how they feel in the days after arrival– though some more than others.” The formula consists of a round of capsules containing a cocktail of various herbs that you take before during and after your flight.
How about YOU? How do you deal with jetlag?
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