The Pretty Woman Jet Lag Cure

The Pretty Woman Jet Lag Cure

Posted from: Whistler, Canada

Jet lag sucks! But have they finally found a cure?

I recently spent four days in Santiago, Chile. I had a couple of work meetings but I also did some much needed relaxing over the weekend with one of my favourite people. On the relaxation menu was 90’s rom-com movie nights. With a combined age of 69, we make up one old lady and we were perfectly happy to encourage her young 20-something roommate to go out and party until the wee-hours while we hunkered down on the couch, drinking tea and snuggling with the puppy under a heavy blanket – it’s the end of winter in Chilé.

We made it through Sleepless in Seattle (Sintonía de amor) which for me was the first time ever watching it – a brief pause for gasps of disbelief and shock – and Pretty Woman, not my first time. One of the best things about watching films from your younger years is being able to reminisce and discuss how our reactions and understanding of the films has changed as we have got older and as times have changed, how themes and context have changed, comparing now and then, wondering why shoulder pads were ever a fashionable thing and then being distraught to find they are back in style when shopping the next day…

Richard Here walking barefoot in the grass in Pretty Woman (1990)
Image courtesy of Buena Vista Films

So, there we were. Sitting on the couch, probably three-quarters of the way through Pretty Woman and Richard Gere is walking in the grass barefoot, contemplating on how to solve his current predicament, and my movie companion asks, “have you heard about ‘grounding’?” Given what was happening on screen, I assumed she wasn’t talking about getting all my childhood fun and privileges taken away for being bad, so I said ‘no.’

She went on to explain that ‘some celebrity tried to make it popular and famous a few years ago. They said it was a cure for jet lag because your body loses its connection to the magnetic field while you are up in the plane so you have to walk in the grass before and after your flight to reconnect to the earth and avoid jet lag.’ Of course, I was totally intrigued and immediately picked up my phone to search for said celebrity and their theory. Here’s what I found:

The Independent, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, WellandGood.com, Earthing Institute and BarefootHealing.com.au were the top six results and immediately, just from the three line descriptions, it was clear the technique was indeed called ‘grounding’ but also referred to as ‘earthing.’

According to the Independent’s article, self-proclaimed bio-hacker Dave Asprey believes that “walking barefoot on the ground, ideally in mud, sand or earth” is the key to beating jet lag or “resetting your body clock after flying.” The Guardian article referenced Naomi Harris for her recent photo post of her earthing and also Clint Ober, a “longtime earthing movement leader.” Ober’s claim at least has some scientific terms in it – because humans are insulated from the earth’s free electrons by their rubber soled shoes, electrons can’t “flow naturally between the Earth and the body, reducing free radicals and eliminating any static electrical discharge.”

I don’t know if I buy that but if you do, you can also buy an “earthing starter kit” for $199.99… Apparently scientists say there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to support these claims. After reading all of that, it was clear I needed to conduct my own incredibly scientific research on the matter. Fortunately for everyone, I had an international flight in the near future which is how we got here. I present to you, the evidence that I did in fact ground (or earth, if you prefer) myself before and after my overnight flights from Santiago, Chile to San Francisco, USA.

Walking in grass grounding earthing Santiago, Chile
Providencia, Santiago, Chile*
Grounding or earthing walking in the grass at UC Berkley, california
UC Berkley, California, USA*

Now that you’ve had to look at not one, but two, photos featuring my bare feet, you are probably wondering, “Did it work?” And the answer is… it made no difference at all in my travel “recovery.” But, I did have fun with my friend and my colleague as I walked around in the grass and they snapped photos. (*photo credits and many thanks to both of them.)

I will be fair and not dismiss grounding/earthing as quackery because it may help some people. However, I already have a tried and true system so I don’t get jet lag. Adding this probably wasn’t going to make a difference anyway. What it did impact in my travel routine was that it disrupted my packed schedule for that 24 hours:

–18:00 (Chilean time) Take dog to the park and walk in the grass —
18:30 Leave for the airport (getting a ride from the park was nearly impossible so I walked 15 mins and finally left closer to 19:00)
20:00 Make tea in my travel cup for the flight and grab a snack at the lounge
20:50 Depart for Atlanta – nap, work and listen to audiobook on the 9 hour flight
05:21 (-1 hour time change) Land in Atlanta 20 mins early
06:00 In the lounge for breakfast and working (I was first through passport control and security for the day!)
08:10 Depart for SFO
10:33 (-3 hours) Land in SF late after a landing diversion due to a plane flying into our landing path…
10:45 Lyft ride to the office
11:00-12:30 Marketing meeting at work (I was 20 mins late)
12:30 Lunch meeting with my boss
13:00 Meeting with colleague
14:00 Paperwork (like, actual paper, we still have to print things…) and e-mail
– 15:45 (California time) Walk in the grass —
16:00 Happy Hour send off for a colleague’s last day
17:30 Train home – e-mails, audiobook and staring out the window at the pretty view
19:15 Arrive home
19:30 Bike to grocery store
20:30 Dinner, relaxing and catching up on home stuff
22:00 In bed

05:30 Up and at it like usual

The mindless break of walking in the grass after all of that back-to-back busy-ness was probably good for my mental health in general. Partly because my colleague and I had a good laugh about it. Also because I was forced to actively think about, and seek out, the green space near my office. There’s a lot of it, trees and grass galore, and I appreciate the beauty of it as I walk by but I rarely stop to sit or walk in it and enjoy the soft squishy grass.

I started this post in Santiago, wrote a lot of it in the lounge in Atlanta and now I am in Whistler, Canada finishing it up while another one of my favourite people sleeps. She would not be impressed by the degree of scientific rigor I applied to my experiment. Especially since she’ll be presenting at a science conference in Seattle later this week… While I don’t plan to incorporate grounding/earthing into my ‘anti-jet lag’ routine, I am going to challenge myself to walk barefoot in the parks I find while traveling.

It’ll be a muddy task here in rainy Whistler. Hopefully it will be nicer when I’m in Europe later this week. But don’t worry, I promise not to post anymore photos of my feet during these endeavors.

What do you think? Does grounding/earthing work? Have you tried it? 

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