You don’t have to dread long-haul flights. Learn how to fight jet lag.
You’ve spent a weekend preparing for a presentation in front of upper management. Midway through the presentation, after a long-haul flight, your mind begins to wander; you feel exhausted, and you stutter in annoyance as you try to capture your thoughts.
Jumping from time zone to time zone is never easy for business travelers who spend the extent of their weeks trading briefcases for suitcases and offices for airports.
Even if travel isn’t a regular occurrence, a long-haul flight that takes you to another continent for a special work obligation can take its toll.
Excessive sleepiness, insomnia and difficulty concentrating are among the pitfalls you face as a consequence of business travel.
Knowing how to fight jet lag is one of the most important skills you can acquire as an executive. Because the stress associated with long-haul flights increases significantly for executives who fly more than six times a year, it’s essential for your health, and your company’s, that you discover successful strategies for how to fight jet lag.
Jet Lag: The Worst Side Effect of Business Traveling
Jet lag is a temporary disorder that causes headaches, fatigue, irritability, and insomnia in executives who travel across many time zones in a short period.
Also known as desynchronosis or time zone change syndrome, jet lag creates havoc with your body and causes indigestion, constipation, daytime drowsiness and difficulty with concentration; not exactly the things you want to experience as you’re prepping for a business meeting.
Jet lag upsets your body’s natural circadian rhythms, what we often call our “body clock.” It affects executives differently depending on age, stress level and overall health.
1. Fasting Is the Key
Research shows that if you don’t eat for 12 to 16 hours before your flight, you’ll adjust much quicker to the new time zone. If you do have to eat, stick with a lighter meal such as a salad or fruit and vegetables.
2. Get a 3D Sleep Mask
Use a comfortable 3D eye mask to help you sleep well and fight jet lag, among other benefits. This mask improves disrupted circadian rhythm.
The 3D shape allows you to open your eyes freely and enjoy the darkness, no light will go through the mask allowing complete blockage of any distractions that may disturb your sleep.
3. Take Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by your body that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles; it’s also available in pill form as a supplement.
Melatonin can help you get the sleep you need to bring your A game to the business at hand.
In clinical trials, researchers discovered that travelers who took 5 mg of melatonin fell asleep faster and slept better than those who received lower doses.
It’s important to consider when you take the melatonin; if it’s taken too early in the day, rather than helping you adjust to a new time zone, it can cause sleepiness and delay your body’s ability to adapt.
Experts suggest taking melatonin after dark on the day that you travel and after dark for a few days after you arrive.
4. Get Some Sun
When you travel across time zones, you get out of sync with the rising and setting of the sun.
Research suggests that spending 15 to 20 minutes in the sun, without sunglasses, as soon as you can after landing is a simple, effective way how to fight jet lag.
Since light affects how much melatonin your body produces, soaking up some sun before heading to your hotel or business meeting will help your body adapt its internal body clock to the new time zone.
5. Arrive Early
As a successful executive, you know that a less-than-stellar performance can significantly affect your company.
Because flying across multiple time zones affects your ability to think critically, how to fight jet lag includes arriving at your destination early whenever possible.
Yael Klein, managing director of Airplus, says that “although it may be more cost-effective for a staff member to travel very early in the morning to make a 9 a.m. meeting, it might be more conducive for them to travel the evening before and stay the night in a hotel, as it may enable them to perform better on the day of their meeting.”
6. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
By the time you’ve dealt with traffic on the way to the airport, checked in your luggage and navigated airport security checkpoints, you may be tempted to head for the airline lounge for a bit of liquid refreshment. Be careful what you choose.
Alcohol and caffeine dehydrate your body; because they are stimulants, they cause problems with your ability to sleep.
Dehydration and interrupted sleep patterns both aggravate the symptoms of jet lag and prolong your recovery time, something you can’t afford when conducting business.
Jet lag is bad enough. Drinking on a plane and the effect it has on a body makes the situation worse.
7. Get Some Exercise
Lack of exercise not only makes a long flight uncomfortable, but it also sets you up for an extended period of jet lag.
Sitting in one position for so long leads to swelling in your legs and feet; sometimes the swelling is so severe that you can’t wear your regular dress shoes for that all-important presentation.
Knowing how to fight jet lag includes recognizing the importance of doing arm and leg stretches in your seat during your flight. Get up and walk the aisles every so often; take a stroll on layovers and stopovers, and avoid mobile walkways.
As an executive in today’s corporate world, business travel is a necessary part of your job. By learning how to fight jet lag, you’ll be alert, productive and able to optimize your performance once you arrive.
Do you have other strategies on how to fight jet lag? If so, we’re eager to hear your comments!