How to avoid jet-lag when travelling for business
Suffering from jet-lag is never a great look in a business meeting. But, with a few simple techniques, you can easily banish those symptoms of red eyes, tiredness, irritability and lack of focus.
Jet-lag is different to the normal tiredness and dehydration one often feels following several hours of travel. It is a specific set of symptoms that occur when crossing multiple time zones. The time-zone change confuses your body’s natural internal clock – messing with your appetite, sleep patterns and alertness.
But it can be beaten if you are kind yourself and give your body every opportunity to adjust its circadian rhythm to your new time zone.
- Give Yourself Time
If you adjust your schedule gently, you give your body more time to adjust. If you can, arrive a couple of days ahead of the big business meeting.
- Think Like a Local
One sure-fire way to make yourself feel groggy is to keep comparing your new local time of day to the time it is back home. As soon as you arrive, check your watch and devices are reset to local time and force yourself to think like a local. Don’t keep yourself awake at odd times so you can get a call in to the family; operate at the local time wherever possible.
- East or West?
As a general rule of thumb, if you have flown west, you should be going to bed a little later in the local time than you would normally at home. Or bring your bedtime forward if you are flying east. Adjust your schedule a little every day – apps like TimeZoneRooster can help you do this. This way, you can gradually hit your normal schedule in the local time.
- Timing Is Everything
The time of day you fly is crucial to helping you plan your adjustment. If it is night-time in the local time during your flight, try to snooze on the plane. This is the flight on which you might want to consider an upgrade – but remember you have upgraded for the bed not the booze! Make the most of the good sleeping facilities, privacy and a fully-flat bed. Conversely, if it is daytime at your destination during your flight, perhaps you don’t need to go for the upgrade. Try to stay awake; relax, read a book, or do some work.
- Time Your Arrival
Although it might be tempting to try to schedule as many days in your destination as possible, morning arrivals aren’t always the best option. Unless you are great at sleeping on airplanes and you have a long enough time in the air to get a good night’s sleep, if you can, aim to arrive in the evening. This way, you can stay awake during the flight, get some work done, and arrive at your destination naturally tired from travelling. You should find it easier to drift off at the “right” local time.
- Fresh Air and Exercise
No matter how tired you feel, before you turn in for the night, try to get some fresh air and do some exercise. While travelling can be mentally exhausting, sitting in the confines of an aeroplane for hours on end hasn’t tired out your body. Exercise will help to get your mind and body back on the same page. As well as giving you a boost of endorphins while you exercise, it will help to get your appetite acclimatised to your new time zone. And the physical tiredness you experience afterwards will be an aid to sleep.
- Be Kind to Yourself
Travelling can be stressful, especially if you are going somewhere for the first time, and stress is tiring. Reduce the stress by planning ahead: get the airport transfers sorted in advance, pre-book fast-track services to minimise the time you spend negotiating your way through the airport. Your travel counsellor can help with these extras and the Travel Counsellors MyTC app helps to ensure you have your travel arrangements to hand and can stay updated about any delays or changes to plans.
- Quick Fixes Don’t Work
However tempting it is to dose yourself up on double shots of expresso and sugary treats to power on through, this isn’t going to help your body naturally adjust its circadian rhythm. Likewise, avoid alcohol – especially when flying – as it will make you more dehydrated and groggy. Getting the timings right, fresh air, exercise, lots of water, and light meals featuring plenty of fresh fruit and veg will help you arrive feeling fresher and healthier and help you naturally adjust when you're there.
- Pack Any Aids to Sleep
Choose a hotel away from noisy, touristy areas if you can to minimise potential disruption to your sleep. It’s worth packing ear buds and an eye mask, as they can help you get off to sleep when in unfamiliar surroundings. Or try a few drops of soothing, calming lavender oil on your pillow; this is especially effective if you add lavender to your pillow at bedtime at home before you travel so your body already associates the smell with sleep. Any smell your body associates with sleep can help; if you do normally use a scented pillow or product like a vapour rub, make sure you pack it.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep Before You Go
If you can, schedule a relaxing day before you travel. Don’t pack your day with meetings just before you leave or spend the day stressed out with last minute preparations for the big meeting. Prepare well in advance, get a good night’s sleep before you fly, and give your body and your mind the best chance to adjust naturally to the time zone stress you are about to bestow on its natural rhythm.
Your Travel Counsellor can help you plan your travel arrangements, transfers, and hotel services in the best way possible to minimise the risk of jet-lag.
Give us a call on +44 (0) 161 464 5350 or fill in the form below and let us call you back.