After carefully preparing for your business trip and winding your way through airport security, the last thing you need when you arrive at your destination is to feel the crushing fatigue of jet lag symptoms. Why do we experience jet lag, and how can we protect our bodies from the impact of long flights? Thankfully, with these smart tips on preventing jet lag, you can emerge on the other side in good shape. Here are our best jet lag tips for frequent business travellers.
First, What Is Jet Lag?
Many business travellers encounter jet lag, especially in Australia where our distances to travel between cities and to other continents are tremendous. But what causes this phenomenon? When we travel long distances by plane, our circadian rhythm (internal body clock) experiences confusion as we adjust to the new destination’s time zone. Why? Thanks to our circadian rhythm, our bodies are attuned to a certain rhythm of daylight and darkness (the same rhythm as our departing location).
When this pattern is disrupted, our body feels disoriented. Everything from our sleep cycle to our body temperature, our blood pressure to our hormone regulators, are left scurrying to catch up as we reorient to our new destination.
What Are Common Jet Lag Symptoms?
Jet lag comes in many forms. The most common jet lag symptoms include:
- A disrupted or fractured sleep cycle (having trouble falling asleep at the appropriate time, or waking up often during the night or early morning)
- Difficulty concentrating on a task
- Muscle aches
- Clumsiness or poor coordination
- Feeling unwell
- Digestive upsets
- Low appetite
- Impaired judgement and thinking
Jet Lag Tips
Here are our expert tips to protect your body from jet lag symptoms.
Jet Lag Prevention Tip #1: Get Enough Sleep
Since sleep deprivation can aggravate jet lag, make sure to get plenty of rest before your business trip. Aim for a solid eight hours’ sleep in the days leading up to your trip, so your body can have a strong foundation to fight jet lag symptoms.
Plan if and when you will sleep on your flight ahead of time. A good rule of thumb: During your flight, try to match your sleeping patterns to your destination’s time zone.
For example, if you are flying while your destination is experiencing nighttime, sleep on the plane to arrive refreshed and ready for the morning.
If you’re flying while it’s daytime at your destination, resist the urge to sleep. Instead, distract yourself to stay awake until night time arrives at your new destination.
For a deeper, more satisfying sleep on the plane, we recommend using earplugs, headphones and eye masks to cancel out loud noise and minimise the impact of light on your body’s melatonin levels. Following these guidelines will help you arrive well-rested, better aligned with your new destination’s timezone, and ready to tackle the work challenges in front of you, not to mention enjoy your new surroundings to the full.
Jet Lag Prevention Tip #2: Drink Lots of Water
Dehydration can aggravate jet lag symptoms. Unfortunately, most people don’t realise how quickly air travel can deplete a body’s water levels. During your flight, your body will naturally lose water and electrolytes at a faster rate due to aeroplane cabin pressurisation.
This makes it very important to keep your body topped up with water both before your journey begins and throughout the flight. As a helpful reminder to yourself to drink regularly, carry a bottle of water with you and sip every few minutes.
Looking for ways to invigorate your body during or after a long flight? Pack some ginger tea, camomile tea or turmeric tea.
Jet Lag Prevention Tip #3: Plan Your Eating
A few days before you fly, start eating meals closer to the times you expect to eat at your destination. This will help your body’s metabolism adjust to the new time zone. Make sure to fill your body with healthy food such as fruit, vegetables and foods that release energy slowly, and avoid sugar-heavy foods, which will not sustain your energy levels for long.
Jet Lag Prevention Tip #4: Walk and Stretch Regularly
When you travel by air, the low cabin pressure can cause the oxygen levels in your blood to drop. If you spend a long time sitting in your airplane without regular movement, your muscles may start to feel tense and stiff. Some air travellers experience swelling in their feet. To ease these symptoms, remember to walk and stretch often during your flight.
Jet Lag Prevention Tip #5: Wear Natural Fibres
To increase your comfort during a long-haul flight, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing made in natural fibres such as cotton, linen, silk and wool. Clothing made from natural fibres lets your skin breathe, keeps your body at a comfortable temperature, and wicks away or absorbs moisture.
Jet Lag Prevention Tip #6: Embrace Smart Productivity
Planning to get some work done on your laptop during your flight? To help prevent jet lag, use a computer program such as f.lux to adjust your computer display’s colour temperature to match the correct time of day for your destination. You can also try preemptively setting your f.lux to the new time zone a few days before departure.
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