Travelling for work may sound exciting, but there’s nothing glamorous about jet lag. Waking up at 1am with you stomach demanding breakfast or walking zombie-like from meeting to meeting clutching a large coffee as though your life depends on it.
It’s the bane of business travellers – unless you’re one of the superhuman few who it seems to completely bypass. For mere mortals, here are our tips for beating jet lag…
Jet lag is caused by disturbed sleep patterns, when your normal body clock is disrupted. One thing you may not know is that jet lag is worse when you move from west to east because the body finds it harder to adapt to a shorter day than a longer one.
Fact for the day – we have evolved from bacteria which float to the water surface when light is available! This has changed over time to form our own body clock, which is primed to respond to a regular rhythm of daylight and darkness. Our body clock is thrown out of sync when travelling and it can take several days to readjust.
What you need to do before you travel…
1. Top up your sleep: Make sure you’re fully rested before you travel. If you’re flying overnight and you can get a bit of sleep on the flight, it will help you to stay up until night time once you arrive at your destination.
2. Change your sleep routine. While this can seem impractical, it will help you hit the ground running. Start getting up and going to bed earlier (if you’re travelling east) or later (if you’re travelling west). If you’re unable to do this ahead of your departure, try to eat and sleep on the flight according to your destination’s local time. Setting your watch to your destination’s time zone as soon as you get on the plane can help too.
…during your journey…
3. Stay hydrated and avoid caffeinated drinks. You won’t believe the difference that staying hydrated makes. Doctors recommend drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water a day. It’s a good idea to up this while flying. Dehydration can intensify the effects of jet lag, and aeroplane cabins are notorious for having dry air pumped in. If you find water unappealing ask the cabin crew for tomato juice, which also keeps your vitamin levels topped up and tastes delicious. You’ll be in good company, German airline Lufthansa serve about 53,000 gallons of tomato juice annually! Avoid the temptation of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks (such as coffee, tea and cola), which can disturb sleep and act as diuretics. While it can seem appealing there is really nothing worse for you!
4. Investing in some good eyeshades and headphones will help to create the right conditions when preparing for sleep. Airlines may provide them for free, but the quality can be poor, especially in economy. The sunrises can be beautiful but if you’re trying to sleep, waking up at an unearthly hour can be very frustrating.
…and at your destination.
5. Stay up as late as you can until is it a sensible time to go to sleep and have as much sleep in every 24 hour period as you normally would. Try to go outside as exposure to daylight will usually help you adapt to the new time zone much faster.
So there you have it, while jet lag will never be eliminated it can be minimised if you use these tips on you’re on your next business trip.
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