People often ask me about my “latest” jet lag protocol. Do I have any new tips, tricks, tools, supplements, or devices that I swear by to get over jet lag when flying? No, and here’s why:
My basic jet lag protocol already works so well that there’s absolutely no reason to try including any newfangled hacks, tips, or pills. It’s based entirely on human circadian biology, which hasn’t changed for hundreds of thousands of years. I literally never get jet lag if I stick to my methods. And I put it to the test on a regular basis, traveling quite extensively on transcontinental flights. Jet lag is supposed to get worse with age, but it’s only gotten easier and easier for me.
Most people’s sleep issues can be solved by simply prioritizing sleep and making a few changes. Turn off the phone at night, pick a bedtime and stick to it, get more light during the day, eat dinner early (or not at all), stay physically active, don’t let the day’s anxieties and tasks build up and accumulate and weigh on your mind. Basic stuff. Not easy for everyone to follow, but it’s a standard roadmap you know will work if you follow it.
What if your sleep issues are out of your control? What if you’re a night shift worker who has to stay awake when you’re supposed to sleep and sleep when you’re supposed to be awake? You can’t just switch jobs—you and your family need food, shelter, and money. There’s no easy way to say it: night shift work has no easy solution.
Sleep deprivation affects your brain, metabolism, immune system, and cardiovascular health, not to mention your day-to-day happiness and quality of life. Sleep should be one of our top health priorities. Yet all the research says the same thing: we are chronically sleep deprived as a society.
The CDC reports that one-third of American adults suffer from “short sleep duration,” meaning they consistently get less than seven hours per night. A 2020 Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that only 16 percent of us feel well rested every day. And this isn’t just an American problem. According to a survey conducted by the Philips corporation in 13 countries in 2021, barely half of adults worldwide are satisfied with the sleep they’re getting.
You have to wonder if some of these surveys underestimate the problem. After all, how many of us want to admit how often we stay up until 2 a.m. scrolling on our phones? More to the point, how many people know if they’re getting good sleep? Sleep deprivation isn’t just getting less than eight hours a night of sleep per night. You can also wind up in a sleep debt when your sleep quality is lacking and you aren’t getting the restorative rest you need.
“I’m doing everything right, exercising and eating well. So why am I not losing weight?”
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Or rather, it’s the $72 billion question, since that’s how much the diet industry apparently rakes in. I’ve spent enough years talking about food and exercise to know how common weight-loss plateaus are. It’s frustrating when something that seems like it should be simple isn’t working for you.
Let me start by challenging the assumption that weight loss is simple or easy. A 2007 report from the UK Government’s Foresight Programme identified 108 factors that affect weight loss. Of course food and exercise are represented on the list in various ways, but so are genetic, economic, social, and psychological influences. That’s why I roll my eyes when I hear people espousing “just eat less and exercise more” platitudes—as if it’s that simple.
Anyway, anyone who’s bothering to ask the question that prompted this post already knows about eating less and moving more. They’ve probably tried multiple versions of eating “less” or “right” or “better,” plus a variety of exercise protocols. Yet, they’re still feeling stuck and frustrated.
Whenever I write about sleep, I hear from a chorus of people who struggle to sleep through the night. Anecdotally, it seems a far more common complaint than difficulty falling asleep in the first place.
These complaints are one of three types:
People who have trouble falling asleep
People who sleep fitfully, waking multiple times throughout the night
Those who reliably wake once, around the same time most nights
Understandably, this is a hugely vexing problem. Poor quality sleep is a serious health concern. Not to mention, sleeping badly feels simply awful. When the alarm goes off after a night of tossing and turning, the next day is sure to be a slog. String several days like that together, and it’s hard to function at all.
The liver is incredible. Most people think of it as a filter, but filters are physical barriers that accumulate junk and have to be cleaned. The liver isn’t a filter. It’s a chemical processing plant. Rather than sit there, passively receiving, filtering out, and storing undesirable compounds, the liver encounters toxic chemicals and attempts to metabolize them into less-toxic metabolites that we can handle.
It oxidizes the toxins, preparing them for further modification
It converts the toxins to a less-toxic, water-soluble version that’s easier to excrete
It excretes the toxins through feces or urine
Bam. It’s an elegant process, provided everything is working well back there. And it’s not the only process it controls.