Is there really "jet lag"?

That seems like a silly question, especially coming from someone like myself who has gathered many bonus miles on long distance flights through the years.

I used to think that there was jet lag. I read a book and several articles from newspapers and from the web. Over the years, I tried many different methods to lessen the effect of jet lag: I took homeopathic pills, I walked in the sunshine and ate special diets before, during and after the flight.

However, on my last trip from Denmark to Hawaii, I concluded that there is certainly a disorientation that can come with long flights. However, these effects that I used to call “jet lag” can be handled in less than a minute with a very simple form of self massage on the head. The technique is from the French teacher, Alain Gehin.

The travel to Hawaii took 26 hours and included 2 stopovers to change flights. Hawaii lies in a time zone 12 hours away from Denmark. I was only going to be away for 3 weeks. I used to take it for granted that it took one day for every change of time zone until one was back in tikme alignment.

By that old rule of thumb, it would take me 12 days to be caught up. Then, I would have had a week to enjoy my newly aligned time sense before hopping on the plane to return to Europe and another 12 days of slow adjustment. That is a heavy price to pay for the most wonderful of Hawaiian adventures.

I could not find a more challenging destination to test our discovery of how to counter the negative symptoms previously attributed to jet lag. Also, I was travelling with two others, my son Erik and a friend Thor. We all had the same experience. In a matter of 20 seconds, we could all “reset our clocks”. It worked for the trip out and also for the trip back.

In fact, my conclusion was that it has nothing to do with “resetting the clocks” at all. I now believe that there is another explanation for the phenomenon that we have called jet lag.

The low vibration, droning of the engines over an extended period of time stresses the body and slows down the cranio-sacral rhythm which is an indicator for the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

Cerebrospinal fluid circulates in the narrow space around the central nervous system made up of the brain and spinal cord. It has many functions. Two of these functions are bringing sugar (glucose) to the nerve cells and removing the waste from metabolism of these cells.

The nerve cells of the central nervous system need sugar and oxygen to function properly. Oxygen is supplied by the arteries. As mentioned above, the sugar is delivered by the cerebrospinal fluid.

In anatomy books, there are usually drawings showing the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid. For lack of a description of the driving force of this fluid, I had supposed that it just sort of ebbed and flowed.

However, in cranio-sacral therapy, we have the belief that this fluid is actually pumped. This pumping of fluid is rhythmic and can be felt by the hands of an experienced, trained therapist. The rate of the pumping as well as the size of the pumping movement are variable.

If a person has a high “rhythm” and a strong “pulse”, they would have a very good circulation of cerebrospinal fluid which in turn would also give them the maximum sugar delivery to and waste removal from the individual cells. A low rhythm and a weaker pulse would lower the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid.

When Erik Thor and I got on the plane, our rhythms were high and our pulses were strong. When we landed at the colourful Honolulu International Airport, we felt tired. From my past experiences of long travels across time zones, I worried that I might not get a good night’s sleep, in spite of feeling somewhat exhausted.

Thinking back on it now, the feeling I had in my body and the sluggishness of my mind were like times when I was hungry and had low blood sugar.

Erik or Thor had the idea to check our rhythms. Our cranio-sacral rhythms were down and our pulses were weak. Standing at the belt waiting for the luggage, we set each other’s rhythms up with a simple technique that took only a fraction of a minute. I felt like myself again.

We got to the hotel a half hour later. It was 11 at night local time, 11 in the morning in Denmark. I was feeling fresh. After brushing my teeth, I lay down expecting to spend a restless night according to my Danish clock. I feel asleep almost immediately and first woke up at 7:30 in the morning, feeling fresh, alert and productive.

I was in sync with the Hawaiian time zone. For the rest of the trip, I went to sleep at my usual time in the evening and awoke at my usual time in the morning. I only had one period of feeling tired during the day, and that lasted only about 15 minutes.

We had a similar experience on the way back. Discovering that our pulses were weak and rhythm slow on arrival in the mid morning, we set them up. In spite of a short night for sleeping due to the west-to-east direction of the flight, and sleeping in a narrow seat, after the treatment, I was fresh both physically and mentally. I put in a good day’s work with various administrative projects, and went to sleep and woke at the usual times. I felt no jet lag and had no need to do anything to readjust to my usual time zone.

In Hawaii, we had another interesting experience relating to air travel and jet lag. We took a local flight on a small, 6-seater from Maui to the island of Hawaii. The flight lasted about 45 minutes. There was a fair amount of engine noise and vibration. When we got off the plane, we all felt disoriented from symptoms of jet lag, until we set our rhythms up using the technique which Alain Gehin describes as Temporal Press. We were again fresh and ready for our adventures on the “Big Island”.

My next flight was from Copenhagen to Oslo and back home again five days later. It is a short flight of less than an hour with no change of time zone. Getting off the plane, again I noticed that I was tired, my rhythm was low and my pulse was weak. I set it up. I felt good again.

As a final observation, last night I again flew from Oslo to Copenhagen. I forgot to check my rhythm when I landed. I had a hard time falling asleep. I woke up at least three times and had a hard time falling sleep again. I finally got out of bed an hour earlier than I usually do. I felt tired.

Then I remembered to check my cranio-sacral rhythm. It was low. I set it up. Immediately, I felt as if I had had a good night’s sleep, relaxed and ready for the challenges of the day. I got on the train at 7 in the morning, took out my computer and wrote this article.