Jet lag is also known as Jet Lag Disorder. It's a sleep disorder that happens when we travel through different time zones quickly.
It's only temporary, but jet lag can be a real pain. For example, if you're flying somewhere on business and need to maintain maximum cognitive output and energy, jet lag can really ruin your day.
But fear not, if sleep troubles from jet lag are hampering productivity during your travels, nootropics may help. Nootropics for jet lag can enhance memory, motivation, energy, focus and mood to optimize your mind no matter where in the world you're traveling, or how many hours your flight may be.
How Does Jet Lag Affect Cognition?
Jet lag mainly affects sleep, ultimately leading to various negative symptoms throughout the day and night. Basically, traveling through different time zones on long flights messes with our circadian rhythm, which causes us to lose sleep and reduce cognitive output.
Our circadian rhythm is our internal cycle of sleep and awake-time throughout each day. When we switch time zones during travel, our brain has to adjust from waking and sleeping at one time to waking and sleeping at another.
This adjustment involves the sleep hormone melatonin, which normally gets released when darkness reaches out retinas.<1> However, when we fly into different time zones, our brains have to catch up and melatonin may get released at the wrong times.
It can take a couple of days for the brain to adjust. Hence why jet lag occurs. Not to mention, aging men and women are at a greater risk for prolonged symptoms of jet lag.
Symptoms of Jet Lag include:
- Day-time tiredness
- Insomnia or lack of sleep quality
- Lack of concentration
- Mood issues
- Lower tolerance for stressors
- Memory problems
Luckily, however, we may be able to avoid jet lag by optimizing specific parts of the brain involved in concentration, mood, motivation, memory, sleep quality and fatigue. We'll explain how it all works below.
Energy and Motivation
Energy and motivation require specific functions in the brain. For example, maintaining energy requires a balanced release of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain throughout each day.
So, initiating the balanced release of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters throughout each day may help reduce tiredness from jet lag. Specifically, serotonin is a precursor to melatonin.<2> Thus, supporting its production may be helpful for jet lag.
In addition, the neurotransmitter dopamine is heavily involved in motivation, which can be hindered by sleep trouble and jet lag.<3> Thus, initiating dopamine activity in the brain may help increase motivation for whatever tasks you want to complete on your travels.
Focus and Memory
Focus and memory can both be seriously affected by jet lag. And that's no good, because who's going to recite that speech you thought you had memorized for your big meeting in Japan tomorrow? And who's going to finish that presentation you planned on creating to accompany that speech if you can't focus enough to do so because of jet lag?
Your boss may just send someone else next time because, well, your brain just can't handle it. But that's where nootropics come in. They can enhance focus and memory in several different ways, ultimately optimizing productivity despite jet lag.
For example, certain nootropic supplements initiate alpha wave activity in the brain, which is linked to concentration. In addition, some nootropic ingredients support memory by promoting the production of acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that all play a part in memory function.
Mood Balance and Stress Reduction
When our circadian rhythm or sleep cycle gets thrown off, it's also likely to mess with our mood. And mood imbalance can affect our ability to be productive during and after travel.
Balancing the mood requires the balanced inhibition and excitation of certain chemicals and hormones such as the stress hormone cortisol and the motivation chemical dopamine. If we can balance these chemicals and hormones, we may be able to balance the mood as well for optimal cognitive output, even during jet lag.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Jet Lag
Nootropics are known for balancing brain chemicals and hormones linked to mood, sleep, motivation, memory, energy and focus. Since these issues are also linked to jet lag, we can speculate nootropics may help reduce the effects of jet lag on cognition.
Thus below, we'll discuss the research on certain nootropics for jet lag and associated symptoms specifically.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark Extract is the most research-backed nootropic for symptoms of jet lag. For example, one study examined the effects of a form of Maritime Pine Bark Extract on symptoms of jet lag including short-term memory issues, fatigue and their duration.<4>
Scientists divided the experiment into two parts. The first part consisted of 68 participants all experiencing common jet lag symptoms. 38 of them were given 50 mg of pine bark 3 times per day and 30 were considered the control group. The second part consisted of 34 participants who took Pycnogenol 3 times per day and 31 control participants.
In the end, both groups showed significant improvements in symptoms of jet lag. Specifically, the duration of symptoms decreased by more than half for patients taking pine bark extract compared to the control groups.
Overall, Maritime Pine Bark Extract is the best nootropic ingredient for jet lag on the market today. It can cross the blood-brain barrier to neutralize harmful free radicals and increase blood flow to the brain, which may be what makes it so helpful for mental performance during travel.
L-Theanine is known for its relaxing effects. But it can also help with focus.
Studies show L-Theanine is safe and has proven to help improve mood, anxiety, sleep problems and cognition.<5> As such, we think it may be an effective nootropic for enhancing cognition to counteract symptoms of jet lag.
This ingredient works by initiating alpha wave activity in the brain and inhibiting excitatory neurons to calm the brain and increase concentration. For example, L-Theanine supports the production of serotonin, a precursor to melatonin.
Bacopa Monnieri is another nootropic known to enhance memory, focus and mood. Thus, we think it may also help us maintain optimal cognitive output despite jet lag.
This nootropic herb may work by supplying antioxidants for optimized blood flow to the brain while supporting serotonin, the precursor to melatonin.<6> For example, a randomized, placebo-controlled study on people with high cognitive output confirmed Bacopa Monnieri supports enhanced cognition.
So, we can assume it may also help fight the effects of Jet Leg during and after travel. However, we'd like to see some research on jet lag specifically.
Rhodiola rosea is a natural nootropic known to initiate anti-stress and mood-balancing effects. Specifically, it can inhibit the release of stress hormones like cortisol to strengthen stress-resistance and keep the mood balanced. Hence why it may also help soothe symptoms of jet lag.
In addition, Rhodiola supports the production of serotonin, which converts into melatonin in the brain. And it may optimize serotonin and other neurotransmitters by helping them cross the blood-brain barrier.
This may be great for jet lag symptoms. However, we'd like to see specific research on Rhodiola rosea for jet lag.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies effective, research-backed nootropics for jet lag that help you stay sharp and energized after traveling.
- Boosting cognition may help reduce the impact of jet lag on cognitive output and productivity during travel.
The Mind Lab Pro® all-natural, Universal Nootropic™ formula in clean capsules is designed to initiate 100% Brainpower™ despite cognitive disadvantages. As such, it may be an ideal solution to help reduce the effects of jet lag on sleep, focus, energy, motivation, memory, mood balance and overall brain health during and after your travels.
And seeing as jet lag directly affects the circadian rhythm or sleep cycle, you can refer to our guide on nootropics for sleep for more information on how this cycle works.
- Andrew Herxheimer and Jim Waterhouse. The prevention and treatment of jet lag. BMJ. 2003 Feb 8; 326(7384): 296–297.
- The Pineal Gland and Melatonin. Vivo pathophysiology.
- Waterhouse J et al. Further assessments of the relationship between jet lag and some of its symptoms. Chronobiol Int. 2005;22(1):121-36.
- Belcaro G et al. Jet-lag: prevention with Pycnogenol. Preliminary report: evaluation in healthy individuals and in hypertensive patients. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2008 Oct;56(5 Suppl):3-9.
- Hidese S et al. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017 Apr;29(2):72-79.
- Navneet Kumar et al. Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016; 2016: 4103423.