Can CBD REALLY help with jet lag? – Why it might and what to think about before trying it out
By Jason Wooden, PhD | April 2, 2022
While there’s currently no direct evidence that CBD can prevent jet lag, it may help with symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and poor sleep. It’s important to get your CBD from a good source, check with a knowledgeable health practitioner about dosing and potential safety issues, and research local laws before traveling with it. Depending on your situation, you may also want to try light therapy, physical activity, and various other natural remedies.
Why we’re curious about CBD for jet lag…
With millions of people flying the friendly skies every day, there’s likely more than a wondering what CBD could do for jet lag.
Whether it’s for business or for pleasure, air travel can leave you feeling drained and out of sorts. If you’re like me, you find yourself feeling out of whack for days after you reach your final destination.
As far as what’s going on with your body, jet lag is what happens when you travel across times zones and your body’s clock gets out of sync with local time at your destination.
And the more time zones you travel across, the worse it can get.
Symptoms of Jet Lag:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Feeling tired or disoriented
- Being unable to function normally during the daytime
- Mild sickness
- Stomach problems
- Menstrual symptoms in females
Would you believe it’s thought that as many 70% of long distance travelers struggle with jet lag.
Once you get to where you’re going, it may take days for the body’s clock to reset to the new time zone. Meanwhile, you’re left feeling strung out and it’s harder to do the simplest of things.
Miserable on the flight and miserable once you’re on the ground…
No wonder we’re desperate for more remedies for jet lag.
Anything that can might make a difference…including CBD for jet lag.
There’s growing interest in using CBD for everyday ailments
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the better known actives along with THC derived from the cannabis plant. Even though both are cannabinoids, they interact with the brain in slightly different ways.
THC is the main psychoactive compound that gives people a “high”.
CBD is made from hemp, a type of cannabis plant that contains very low levels of THC.
Currently, it’s being looked at as a natural alternative for a wide variety ailments with varying degrees of evidence:
- anxiety and mood disorders
- an alternative to narcotics for pain relief
- neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
Should jet lag be added to the list?
Let’s take a look at what we know.
What the research says about CBD for jet lag
The way that CBD could help jet lag is through it’s effects on the brain.
CBD and other cannabinoids interact with proteins on the cells in the brain called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, a complex signaling system in the body that has been linked to appetite, mood, stress, learning and memory, inflammation, and pain.
As far as a possible effects on jet lag, evidence is growing that the endocannabinoid system is also involved with regulating circadian rhythms and the sleep-wake cycle too.
In fact, early research suggests that cannabinoids may be beneficial for insomnia and other sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
So, it’s not so crazy that CBD could help with jet lag too.
Unfortunately, CBD hasn’t been directly tested as a jet lag treatment. I’m not surprised since research on CBD and it health benefits is still ramping up.
However, CBD may be helpful for managing symptoms of travel and jet lag:
There’s growing evidence that CBD can help with insomnia.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are among the biggest challenges for sleep. It’s no surprise that both can ratchet up when you’re jet lagged.
CBD has been found to be helpful for anxiety in clinical studies.
In summary, while there’s currently no direct evidence that CBD can be used to treat jet lag, it may be helpful for getting your sleep back on track at your final destination.
Can CBD help with flight anxiety?
It’s not uncommon for people to get stressed and anxious about flight travel.
In fact, it’s thought that as many 1 in 10 people in the US are scared on flying and experience symptoms of flight anxiety such as:
- shortness of breath
- feeling sick
- panic attacks
This can certainly make it harder to relax while in transit and harder to sleep once you land.
Like jet lag, CBD hasn’t been directly studies as a treatment for flight anxiety.
However, as mentioned earlier, studies show that it can be helpful for managing anxiety and suggest CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Currently, there’s growing interest in using CBD as treatment for anxiety disorders.
Read this before bringing CBD on a plane for jet lag…
Before taking CBD with you on a plane to help with jet lag or flight anxiety, there are some things you should think about.
CBD continues to grow in popularity and acceptance as natural remedy but it’s important to be aware of local laws when traveling with CBD.
According to this TSA statement, passengers in the US are allowed to bring CBD products that contain no more 0.3% THC on board:
“Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.
TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
However, you should keep in mind that some states may have more restrictive laws regarding CBD and hemp-derived products.
And if you’re traveling internationally, some countries may have zero tolerance policies.
To avoid unnecessary hassle and legal trouble you should:
- Research state and national laws before traveling with CBD
- Bring a copy of the certificate of analysis for your CBD product that formally shows what it is
- As an alternative to bringing it on a plane, try taking it before you fly
- Check if CBD is legal at your destination and buy it there
Tips for trying out CBD for jet lag
If you decide you want to try taking CBD to help with jet lag, there’s a couple things to keep in mind:
It’s a good idea to check with a doctor
It should be clear by now that there’s still a lot of research to be done on the benefits of CBD for specific issues like jet lag.
Also, keep in mind that natural actives such as CBD haven’t been as well-researched as pharmaceuticals. Consequently, there’s less known about side effects and possible interactions with other substances such as medications.
So, if you decide to give CBD a try for jet lag, it’s a good idea to see a doctor first, especially if you’re dealing with specific health challenges and taking other medications.
An alternative medicine practitioner such as an herbalist or naturopathic physician can also advise you on dosing, safety issues, and the best way to use it.
Get your CBD from a good source
Because CBD products can vary so widely in quality, it’s really important where you buy it from.
Some things to look for are:
- A well-known and reputable company with minimal complaints
- 3rd party testing done to verify CBD amounts and purity
- A certificate of analysis which you can review
If you’re looking for options, here’s a high quality provider I use which I recently reviewed here.
You can check with an alternative medicine specialist such as naturopathic physician about this brand and other ones they would recommend.
Other natural remedies for jet lag
CBD isn’t the only natural remedy that may help you deal with jet lag.
There are other things you can do to prevent and manage the symptoms the jet lag, help reset your body clock, and get your sleep back on track.
1) Before you travel
Experts recommend that you exercise, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. You may also want to start going to bed an hour or two later (if traveling west) or earlier (if traveling east).
Try scheduling your flights to break up a long trip with a stop in the middle.
2) While you travel
To help with resetting your body, change your watch to local time at your final destination.
You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both may aggravate jet lag symptoms and make it harder to adjust to the new time zone.
Don’t forget to hydrate and to periodically walk around.
3) Sleep hygiene
When traveling, it’s easy to get away from your normal sleep routine and habits. That makes it important that you’re practicing good sleep hygiene, the everyday things you do that set the stage for restful sleep.
Sleep hygiene will give yourself the best chance to recover and get your sleep back on track.
Once you reach your final destination, you should:
• go to bed and wake up on time
• avoid naps
• get out and do something physical
• avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine in the evening
• give yourself time to wind down before bed
• keep your sleep environment quiet, dark, and cool
To make your new sleep environment more sleep-friendly, you may have to try ear plugs to block out noisy neighbors or a face mask for excessive night time lighting.
4) Natural sunlight
Light is what sets your circadian clock. To help rest your clock to local time, get out and absorb sunlight during the morning and afternoon.
Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day preferably without sunglasses as they limit the eyes access to full sunlight. Getting some sunshine can also boost your moods.
5) Light therapy
Light boxes designed to mimic outdoor light are another way to reset the body clock. They have been shown to be helpful in clinical studies. There are now portable ones small enough to take on a trip.
Better yet, there are also high tech light therapy glasses which use small light-emitting diodes to bring the light source closer to the eye. Depending on the manufacturer, they typically recommend you wear the glasses for 20 to 60-minute sessions to help your body adjust to a new time zone.
6) Physical activity
Exercise is another way to fight jet lag. It’s long been known to improve sleep.
Recent research suggest that moderate exercise can more directly fight jet lag.
So, get out for a brisk walk or run during the day. You’ll get the added benefit of natural sunlight exposure.
7) Natural sleep aids
Fortunately, CBD isn’t the only game in town when it comes to natural sleep aids that may help you recover from jet lag:
Melatonin is a hormone that’s involved in the sleep-wake cycle. Research suggests that melatonin supplements can help with jet lag.
Be sure to check with a doctor about whether it’s right for you and how to use it on your trip.
Lavender Essential Oils
Extracts prepared from the flowers of the lavender plant have been found to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation
And don’t forget about all the other natural drug-free things you can do to help recover from jet lag:
- Mindfulness meditation Learn more
- Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and visualization
- Music therapy (soothing music and sounds) Learn more
- Tai chi
Helpful CBD links:
You may also be interested in:
Can jet lag cause depression? – 3 Reasons why it might
Can acupressure and acupuncture help jet lag? – What we know, what to try
3 Light therapy remedies for jet lag worth a try
How I‘m using Joy Organics CBD softgels for pain and better sleep
Can you take CBD with sleeping pills? – 4 risks
Can CBD help with sleepwalking?
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13. Medical Marijuana, TSA website
14. “How Letting More Light into Your Life Can Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing”, 2018, rtor.org
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