Dealing with jet lag when you’re a busy business traveler

Jet lagCC: Angela Compagnone at Unsplash

When you often travel for business, jet lag can soon become a thorn in your side. From struggling to sleep while you’re in your new environment to battling against fatigue after you return, there are lots of challenges that come with long-haul travel.

If you want to enjoy your next business trip without jet lag looming, there are ways to make your life easier. With these top tips, you can at least offset some of the tiredness-inducing harms.

First, what is jet lag?

If you’ve ever heard a friend claim they’re suffering from jet lag after flying to another state, rest assured that they are not. Jet lag usually occurs when you travel over two or more timezones. For example, if you fly from New York to Chicago, you won’t suffer from jet lag. If you fly from New York to London, there’s a risk of jet lag.

As a result of existing inside a different timezone, your circadian rhythm acclimatizes. When you return home, you’ll struggle to sleep on your usual schedule. It can take a few days to recover, especially when you spend more than three days in your new timezone.

How can you prevent jet lag?

Technically, you can’t prevent jet lag altogether. What you can do is reduce the likelihood of it wreaking absolute havoc on your life at home.

Adjust your sleep cycle ahead of your trip

If the destination you’re flying to is a few hours behind, start getting up earlier in the morning to adjust when you arrive. Don’t take this to the extremes, though. Slice one or two hours off your usual rising time and seize the chance to be productive during them.

Try sleeping during your flight

Before you board the aircraft, set your watch so that it reflects the time at your end destination. If you notice that you’re edging toward bedtime, try to grab some sleep. To make this happen, you’ll probably need a decent eye mask and some earplugs. Don’t worry if you don’t actually fall asleep. The effort you’re making will help your body prepare for the new timezone ahead.

Adjust to your new destination’s timezone

After arriving at your new destination, try to adjust to the timezone as quickly as you can. Resist the urge to go to sleep on your previous timezone’s schedule and set an alarm to prevent yourself from oversleeping in the morning. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, consider using a non-addictive sedative antihistamine such as diphenhydramine. Do not use benzodiazepines or alcohol, as they don’t promote a truly restful night’s sleep.

Stay healthy while away

Being away from home and battling against tiredness may make you seek out junk food and alcohol. Try nourishing your body instead to reassure it that everything is normal. Doing this also maintains your energy levels and helps you adjust to your new schedule. You should also try and stick to your usual exercise routine if you can.

And when you get home? Repeat all the steps above, but for your usual timezone. Although you won’t prevent jet lag completely, you will banish some of the worst aspects of it.

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About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.