7 Tips to Prevent Jag Lag from Affecting Your Business Trip

Before getting some useful tips on how to avoid jet lag, it’s important to understand just what it is.  Let’s start by defining some medical terms:

  • Desynchronosis is the medical term for Jet lag
  • Circadian is the medical term for the internal “body clock” that regulates the body’s 24-hour rhythm of body processes (comes from the Latin word for “all day”)

Jet lag occurs when the body’s circadian clock is out of balance. If you’ve ever had it, you know that it can include everything from just feeling lousy and lethargic to problems with concentration and even mental and physical difficulties – headaches, sick stomach, muscle aches, anxiety and even memory issues. For a working professional, jet lag can be costly– not only in terms of health, but with time as well. It can often take several days to adjust after returning home, and the subsequent drowsiness can lead to a lack of efficiency in your work. 

 

... So– how to avoid the problem:

1.     Fly newer planes – Essentially, some newer planes, like Airbus’ A350 XWB, have added features to prevent jet lag by imitating regular time-of-day cues. 

The lighting system is state-of-the-art and simulates the effects of sunrises and sunsets.  That encourages the body to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone, at regular times.  These newer planes also provide lower cabinet pressures, equal to a height of 6,000 feet, which is significantly lower than the pressure in older planes.

 

2.    There’s an app for that – The Stop Jet Lag app is a computer program, also available for Apple and Android operating systems. It allows travelers to develop their own personal plan to avoid jet lag based on their trip plan.  Its developer was a pioneer in diet plans to avoid jet lag problems. 

The plans are based on finding natural ways to re-set a traveler’s circadian pattern (body clock) by having a thorough schedule of when to eat and drink, when to have bright light and when to sleep and even includes how to use melatonin supplements, should they be desired. 

A traveler can actually start using the plan a few days in advance of a trip to help regulate their system on a preventative basis.

 

3.    Open the blinds.  In 2017, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson revealed a simple travel hack: open the blinds. When you're in a hotel room half way across the globe and you're there for an extended period of time, it's important that you get accustomed to an appropriate sleep schedule quickly so you can handle business productively during the day. By opening the blinds in your hotel room, you will become accustomed to the sleep schedule of quicker due the exposure to natural light. 

Sorenson also suggests disciplining yourself when it comes to sleeping on an airplane. If you are traveling overseas and it will be night time where you are arriving, force yourself to stay awake the entire flight so you can have a good nights' sleep upon arrival, in parallel with the time zone. Conversely, it'll be morning time in your arrival destination, be sure to sleep on the plane so you are well-rested for the day to come.

 

Simple and basic tips:

4.     Plan ahead – Depending on the direction of the trip – east or west – a traveler can alter their sleep routine to reduce the potential for jet lag.  Flyers going west can keep later hours while those going east can go to bed earlier.  Setting timepieces ahead or behind to match up with the timezone of the trip destination is a good idea as well.

Depending on the length of a flight, travelers can also change when they sleep, eat and drink to have those times match up with the “normal” times they would occur at the destination.  

 

5.    Increase the length of the trip by starting early – Business trips are taken for pressing reasons.  The traveler needs to be as sharp as possible to make the trip pay off.  An extra day BEFORE any important meetings or discussions may be a great investment. 

As an alternative, fly on a Sunday – or even a Saturday – to be at maximum potential for important dealings.  Although this does involve an extra expense for accommodations, the real issue is being at one’s best and how to achieve that.

If the trip is important enough to take, it’s important to be in the best possible shape.

 

6.    Diet and exercise – Travel experts advise trip-takers to eat for success.  Having a carb-heavy meal the night before flying can help, particularly if the trip involves flying west.  That would be followed by a protein-rich meal at the destination to help get the circadian rhythms working.

Eating on an airplane is probably not the best idea.  Meals are usually served based on the “day” as it was when the plane departed.  Plus, unless the traveler is in first class on a great flight, chances are the food provided will be less than gourmet, typically prepared for easy transportation and re-heating rather than for preventing digestion issues. 

Exercise is important.  Throw some workout gear in the bag and try to get 30 minutes of exercise daily.   That level or more will have a positive effect on sleep patterns.

 

7.    Hydrate regularly – most people don’t hydrate enough during their regular routines.  Hydration while traveling is even more important to avoid digestion issues.  Even though a good bourbon or a craft beer may be on the menu, drinking water regularly will do a lot to moderate if not eliminate jet lag issues.

Of course, the most important thing is to have had good meals, good rest and hydrate before leaving on a trip.  Think of it as training for an important event.