It is a well-known fact that crossing time zones confuses the human body’s internal clock. Flying east is worse for travellers as they “lose” time, while flying west extends the day, giving travellers more time to adjust. We are all impacted differently, but one thing is certain: jetlag’s side effects can negatively impact well-being and productivity.
To make sure you stay highly functional for your business trip, here are six hacks to help travellers beat jetlag:
1. Start adjusting to your new time zone ahead of time
Start adjusting your home schedule a week or so before your trip if you have the time. Shift your bedtime and wake time by an hour a day to coincide with your destination to make the change easier. (If you are travelling within 48 hours, stick to your normal routine.)
2. Set your watch to your new time zone
Suppose your technology does not automatically update your watch; set this to the new time zone as soon as you depart. If you keep to your old time, adjusting to the new time zone will take longer.
3. Choose direct flights
Where possible, try to fly on a direct flight. If you have to transit an airport, give yourself enough connecting time to take a walk and recharge before you reboard.
4. Time your flights to your advantage
Try to book flights that arrive at the destination as close to your usual waking time. This way, you minimise the disruption to your normal sleep patterns and should manage to catch some sleep on the flight. Avoid the urge to nap if you arrive during the day as this will make it more difficult to sleep in the evening.
5. Get as much sleep as possible
Try to sleep whenever it fits into your schedule. If you are on your flight while it is night-time at your destination, try to sleep while you are flying. A few tried and tested tips to help you rest on board include a comfortable pillow, earplugs, and noise-cancelling headphones. If all else fails, try melatonin. Melatonin is produced by your body to trigger sleep, and it is available in a supplement format. (Please consult your doctor for advice.)
6. Get out into the sunlight
One of the causes of jetlag is the fact that your exposure to light changes. When you arrive at your destination, try to get some fresh air and sunlight to keep you awake and reduce the release of melatonin which makes you sleepy.
The rule of thumb is that you should take one day to recover for each time zone you cross. Jet lag symptoms usually don’t last longer than a week, and these tips should help you adjust and recover more easily.