During the past year I’ve had the pleasure of conducting etiquette seminars in exotic places including China, Japan and South Africa. Although I try to rest on flights, it’s still difficult to adjust to new time zones.
I don’t have time for jet lag. When you travel for business, you’re expected to be fresh and alert and give your clients your all.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Studies show that the condition of jet lag actually results from an imbalance in our body’s natural biological clock.” They describe that our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called circadian rhythms that are measured by the risk and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions, and our exposure to sunlight.
“When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days.”
Over the years, I’ve developed the following tricks and techniques for overcoming jet lag.
1. Choose your flight schedule carefully.
If possible, book a flight that will allow you get as much rest before you arrive your destination. Try to arrive in the evening so you can go straight to your hotel, eat a light meal, shower, go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
Eat a good meal at the airport before you board. You never know what kind of food you’ll be served on the plane, so pack healthy snacks for the flight. If you take a sleep aid, don’t take it until the flight takes off, just in case the flight gets cancelled and you have to navigate your way through the rescheduling process. When traveling internationally, pack a neck pillow, earplugs, comfy socks and a light-blocking eye mask to ensure a more peaceful rest. I also travel with a cashmere pashmina just in case the airline doesn’t offer blankets.
2. Stay hydrated.
Often, dehydration is the cause of fatigue. The air in planes can be especially dry. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during the trip. Pack eye drops and saline nasal spray so your eyes and nose don’t get too dry. Limit your caffeine amd alcohol intake, as these tend to act as diuretics, draining your body of fluid. Besides, you don’t want to have to make too many trips to the lavatory, especially if you choose a window seat.
3. Live in the new time zone.
Try to arrive at least a day, preferably two, before you have to conduct business. This will allow your body to adjust to the new time zone before anything important transpires. When you board the plane, set your watch for the new time zone, and begin thinking in that time.
4. Reset once you arrive.
Once you reach your destination, get some fresh air. If you arrive during the day, take a walk and soak up some sunlight. This will help your body reset its circadian rhythm. Avoid excessive computer work and heavy exercise close to bedtime; these can disrupt your sleep. If you arrive early in the day, try to stay awake until you normally go to bed. If you take a nap, try not to sleep more than 30 minutes. Napping any longer might disturb your sleep n the evening. The sooner you can get into your normal rhythm of sleeping and rising, the better.
Travel is one of life’s pleasures, and with a little planning, you can avoid the groggy, foggy feeling of jet lag and enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Related: 6 Ways to Reduce Jet Lag Naturally