If you’re travelling regularly to far-off places for work meetings and presentations, you’re likely falling victim to jet lag. Mayo Clinic defines jet lag as ‘a temporary sleep disorder that can affect anyone who travels across multiple time zones and occurs because your body’s clock is still synced to your original time zone, instead of to the time zone where you’ve travelled’.
Beating jet lag is key to a) your trip being a success and b) your business saving money. A 2016 study by Kayak and Airbus found that jet leg costs UK business at least more than £240 million a year due to productivity loss and mistakes made by sleepy, jet-lagged employees. The same study also found that the jet-lagged employees’ productivity at work is estimated to be at a mere 61%.
Here are the symptoms of jet lag you need to watch out for:
- Disturbed sleep – such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness
- Daytime fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or functioning
- Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhoea
- Muscle aches
A great infographic by Expedia offers some very helpful tips on how to beat jet lag. Business travellers, take note:
1. Spend the day outside: Exposure to daylight is a powerful way of regulating your biological clock. Aim to be outside between 8 and 9 am.
2. Stay active: Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon will revitalise you and help reset your body clock. Avoid exercising too close to your bedtime as this can cause further disruption.
3. Wear ‘re-timer’ glasses: Specialised glasses which emit a soft green light into your eyes to help regulate your 24-hour body clock.
4. Nap for up to 20 minutes: A minimum of four hours sleep at night is recommended to ‘anchor’ you – with additional naps helping you reach your regular daily sleep requirement.
5. Invest in ear plugs and an eye mask: Cut out noise and light distractions. Getting a night of quality sleep is crucial to re-set your internal clock.
6. Choose a natural tea: A natural brew of Yerba Mate, ginkgo biloba or ginseng can recharge your body and mind in the morning. Chamomile, lavender, and valerian may help you nod off in the evening.
7. Take a cold shower in the evening and a warm one in the morning: The release of melatonin, the sleep-regulation hormone, can be triggered by temperature changes in the body.
8. Avoid alcohol and coffee before bed: Both of these are stimulants and will introduce more disruption to your already-confused system.
9. If you’re only away for a day or two, do nothing: On short trips, maintain mealtimes and light exposure that correspond with the time of day back home. This prevents an unnecessary yo-yo effect when you travel back and forth.