Wellness Treatments To Prevent Jet Lag After A Long-Haul Flight
Lux Nomade tries the therapies and treatments thought to stop jet lag in its tracks.
If there’s one thing that makes the concept of “wellness travel” an oxy-moron, it’s jet lag. Flying between time zones can wreak havoc on body and soul, so when I was offered the opportunity to trial some treatments to help mitigate the impact, I jumped at the chance.
The offer came from the team at Bionik Wellness – a wellness studio specialising in science-backed, personalised holistic wellbeing treatments designed to optimise health and vitality. The Sydney born brand now comprises two studios – one in Surry Hills, one in Rose Bay – both home to infrared saunas, float tanks, hyperbaric chambers, stylishly minimalist treatment rooms and super well-informed therapists.
I visited the Surry Hills studio the day I returned from a 28 hour journey back from England – a journey so brutal that the last time I undertook it, I spent the following week entirely nocturnal.
I was welcomed by Bionik team member and former ICU nurse George Lobato, who guided me through the course of treatments – explaining their respective benefits, and how they complement one another in limiting the negative effects of jet lag.
The first step in my jet lag curing journey was an infrared sauna – chosen in this instance not only for its relaxation effect, but also for its function as a vasodilator.
“Spending time in a sauna dilates your blood vessels, allowing your body to absorb more oxygen”, George explains.
While any sauna treatment achieves this effect, infrared saunas have become preferred in the wellness world as the infrared spectrum penetrates human tissue more effectively than traditional saunas. This deep cell permeation not only improves blood flow, it also helps to reduce cortisol levels, which can help balance sleep-wake cycles disrupted by travel.
“The overall effect of infrared sauna helps relax and detox the body, helping you get into a really nice relaxation state,” George tells me.
After a session in the infrared sauna, the Bionik team recommend spending 45 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber – a glass and metal pod home to a reclinable chair, initially developed as a treatment for decompression sickness. The use of hyperbaric chambers to cure jet lag is a response to a 2004 study by Coste which demonstrated that mild oxygen deprivation during long haul flights could have a marked impact on melatonin levels. By rapidly enriching the blood’s oxygen levels, hyperbaric chambers can accelerate the body’s recovery and facilitate quicker adaptation to new time zones.
“In the hyperbaric chamber, you’re receiving 24% extra oxygen that your body would not normally get. You’re getting a mixture of purified oxygen with hydrogen. If your body is already in a relaxed state, your blood vessels are dilated, you’re able to absorb more oxygen which will help reduce the effects of jet lag – it’s getting that extra oxygen into the body that’s really important,” George explains.
The hyperbaric chamber is perhaps the most futuristic of the treatments offered at Bionik, but the post-treatment feeling is similar across the board: I leave the chamber feeling deeply relaxed, and unrecognisable from the sleep-deprived zombie who had landed in the country a few hours prior.
Next, I’m led into a separate treatment room, which maintains the studio’s signature aesthetic: smooth polished concrete and carefully positioned plants. Here, I lie on a bed and my legs are wrapped in Air Compression Massage Boots: inflating boots which have been designed to boost circulation and decrease inflammation. As well as reducing the inflammation often experienced on long haul flights, these boots are designed to help overcome jet lag induced fatigue by boosting circulation. I can’t speak to the circulation directly, but can confirm that my legs felt noticeably lighter on the cycle home.
The following day, after a relatively undisturbed night of sleep and a full day of work without any of the delirium that jet lag usually induces, I headed back to Bionik for my final treatment.
“I’d usually recommend doing the float directly after the sauna and hyperbaric chamber,” George explains. “This way, you’ve already got enough oxygen to detox the body, you’re already in a relaxed state of mind, so floating will be the best at the end,”.
The float tank at Bionik is a vast tank of salt and magnesium enriched water, heated to 35oC to match the body’s outer skin temperature. The sense of weightlessness and sensory isolation experienced during a session has been found to reset circadian rhythms and reduce stress.
“The water is very rich in salt and magnesium which helps with muscle relaxation and helps the body regenerate, getting rid of dead skin cells. That’s why after you do the float session, you’ll notice your skin is much softer” George tells me.
Before my session, George led me through the different light and music options, and I settled in for 60 minutes of what transpired to be the deepest nap of my life.
“Some studies show that if you’re able to sleep while you’re floating, and sleep for the whole session, that’s the equivalent of 3-4 hours of sleep in a regular bed,” George told me before my session. “This is the best mattress your body will ever be on, because the water’s so concentrated in salt that it’s like your own body mattress – your body will adjust to the water and adjust to the tension of the water so you don’t get resistance like with a regular mattress, you just float at the surface,”.
That night, I slept through from 9pm until 5:30am and watched the sunrise from the ocean – England’s time zone a distant memory.
An honourable mention goes to the pre-flight facial I experienced at La Prairie’s Sydney Airport spa before boarding my flight to the UK two weeks prior. Designed to hydrate skin and boost circulation to improve complexion and reduce facial inflammation that flights often induce, the expertly performed facial combined a deeply cleansing facial massage with the tailored application of nine carefully selected products from La Prairie’s hyper high-end skincare range. Though I can’t credit the facial with any jet lag, I can confirm that – despite a 14 hour layover and over twenty hours spent in the air – I arrived in London with skin that was moisturised and glowing.
Of course, there are natural measures we can and should take to mitigate the negative impact that long haul flights have on our body (timing meals to match the timezone of our arrival destination and maximising exposure to sunlight).
But to hack the system, these treatments are worth a try.