The No-Crash Landing

How five intrepid travelers escape jet lag
3 min read

This story appears in the May 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The number of CEOs who left their posts in 2009, the lowest turnover in five years.
We all know one: The business traveler who manages to rack up tens of thousands of miles with no apparent wear and tear on the psyche. That enviable colleague who "doesn't do" jet lag, who bounds off a cross-country flight with so much pep you want to smack him, if only you had the energy. What's the secret? Five intrepid travelers, including one with actual sleep science credentials, spill.

28,000 miles per year
Dr. Helen J. Burgess
Circadian rhythms expert
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
The key is to start nudging your body clock in the direction you're going to travel for at least three days before leaving. If you're flying east, each day go to sleep and wake up one hour earlier. Traveling west, go to sleep and wake up one hour later and wear sunglasses in the morning. The key is regulating two systems: sleep cycles and light exposure.

60,000 miles per year
Ann-Marie Scichili
Owner, AMS Design, Florence, Italy

I meditate before I fly and listen to personalized hypnosis tapes and relaxation tapes. I bring movies on my laptop and loads of water, at least five liters on an international flight. If I drink alcohol, I sleep, but I pay for it in the days after. I also don't drink coffee or eat sugar when flying and once I arrive, I never take a nap no matter how tired I am.

90,000 miles per year
Billy Campbell
Media consultant, Los Angeles

The best strategy is to force yourself to stay up in the new location until it's truly bedtime. But if you're traveling really long distances, no matter what you do, you're going to feel it. My advice is a little Ambien at night and then an emotional embrace of wherever you are. It's like a great date: When you're having fun, you have no idea what time it is.

100,000 miles per year
Amy Elias
President, Profiles Inc., Baltimore

Book flights late in the day, don't drink wine or liquor the night before or when flying, and do not eat any airplane food. I bring plain sliced turkey, mustard and hard, crunchy apples to eat before takeoff and in the air, and I drink as much water as I can. I try to fall asleep as soon as possible, but I never take drugs. After landing, I eat another apple. The trick is not to eat too much--an empty stomach helps fight jet lag.

300,000 miles per year
Pat Younge
Senior manager, BBC, London

A good seat is key--and for any overnight flight you want an aisle seat. A window seat leaves you undisturbed, but my experience is you get trapped by the person sleeping in the aisle seat. Overnight flights from the East Coast to London or Paris should be avoided in favor of a day flight--the trip is too short to sleep and with daylight breaking upon landing, all the sensory clues are telling your body it's time to start up, not shut down.

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