Frequent overseas travel is often part and parcel of the high-flying executive lifestyle, but making sure you’re on top form while away – and when you get back – can be the difference between sealing the deals that make your business a success, or simply setting for mediocrity. These tips on dealing with jet lag while travelling for work will help you cruise to the next level.
The conventional wisdom used to go that you should adjust your watch to the time of your destination once you were on the plane, or at the very least when you were close to landing – hence the reminder of the local time that pilots often still give in their pre-landing announcements. These days, of course, internet-connected and GPS-enabled devices will often do the updating for you, but usually only once you’ve landed and your phone, tablet or laptop has picked up your new location.
Having said that, in order to make it as easy as possible for you to adjust to the new time – including subconsciously – it’s worth temporarily switching off the option to have the time on your device ‘set automatically’, and manually updating it according to your new time zone as soon as you’re on the plane and have settled in. That way, you’ll have a good idea throughout the flight of the time at your destination, without having to give it too much thought.
By extension, do your best to behave according to the real local time when you arrive. After a long-haul journey, you might feel like having a snooze when you reach your hotel in the early afternoon – and there’s probably nothing wrong with a short nap, as long as that’s all it is – but staying awake until it’s a reasonable time to sleep in your new location will help you adjust more quickly. Likewise, if you arrive in the dead of night (which is itself best avoided where possible), you are best off getting to sleep as soon as you can, and then the following morning waking up and starting your day at as close to your normal time as is humanly possible.
This one is a no-brainer, yet it’s one we’re almost all guilty of ignoring in the face of a free bar on the plane. It might be tempting to justify a few glasses of wine to yourself on the basis that they will help you sleep more easily for the rest of the flight but, if you truly want to be at your best on arrival, then eschewing the booze and coffee in favour of water and other non-caffeinated soft drinks is the way to go.
Water is what your bodily naturally craves and what it performs best with, and avoiding caffeine as much as possible will equip your body to self-regulate your sleep pattern as best it can in spite of the upheaval of a travel schedule. Having said all of that, travel can be stressful enough and, in moderation, a cheeky drink might well help you to relax a little, perhaps ease any nervousness you have about flying, and make the journey a little more fun.
This should be a pleasant tip to follow – but, of course, the truth is that life is hectic and other things get in the way. Nevertheless, if you can at all manage it, then you would be well counselled to avoid the trap so many of us fall into of managing little more than a few hours’ sleep the night before a big trip. Get a good night’s rest and, more than that, do what you can to relax a little more than usual in the days leading up to your business travel.
Go a bit easier on yourself than you might normally, expect just a little less, and cut your body some slack to allow it to get ready for the inevitably stresses and strains of long-haul travel that are on their way. With any luck, your body will thank you for it – by helping you adjust to your new time zone and shake off those jet lag shackles just a tad more quickly.
Although we all feel a little tired and disorientated from even short-haul travel, the symptoms commonly associated with jet lag itself are only generally said to begin to exhibit themselves once you have crossed more than three time zones in the course of a continuous journey.
Breaking up your long-distance trip with a stopover rather than taking a direct flight – say, in Dubai or Abu Dhabi if you’re flying from Thailand to Europe or beyond – allows you to minimise the number of time zones you cross by taking a well-deserved rest between journey legs. You might check into an airside hotel within the airport’s transit area for just long enough to get a proper dose of sleep before your next flight, or head downtown and take in a little of the local culture as you extend your layover in a day or two’s stay.
What are your top tips for reducing and recovering from jet lag when you travel across time zones? Let us know in the comments!
Story by Chris Wotton.