Whether you call it by its scientific name of “flight dysrhythmia” or refer to it as plain ol’ jet lag, the condition can really wreak havoc on your next business trip. Try these tips to help your body adjust as quickly as possible.
PRIME YOUR BODY TO EVADE FATIGUE.
Giving your body what it needs can help pre-empt travel fatigue. Tips include:
Bringing along fruit, nuts and other healthy snacks
Drinking plenty of water (while avoiding dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea and alcohol)
Adjusting your watch to your destination’s time zone the minute you get on the plane, and adjust your own sleep time accordingly
Once you land in your new location, keep tending to your body by:
Continuing to drink water and other rehydrating beverages
Taking a hot shower in the morning and cool shower in the evening, as reducing your body temperature can help trigger its release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Going for a brief nap if absolutely necessary, ensuring the nap is no longer than 20 minutes so it doesn’t stop you from snoozing at night
TRY A BIT OF MELATONIN AT NIGHT, CAFFEINE IN THE DAY.
Not only can jet lag make it tough to fall asleep at your new local bedtime, but it can make it tough to stay awake in the daytime. When used in combination, both melatonin and caffeine can help your body re-sync its 24-hour cycle, making it easier to fall asleep at night and remain alert during the day.
You don’t need to go nuts with either one. A melatonin dose of between 0.5 and 5 mg about two hours before bedtime can help, as can a thermos of coffee or green tea you sip throughout the day.
GET THE RIGHT LIGHT AT THE RIGHT TIME.
Light exposure can help trick your body into resetting its internal clock. Exposure to bright light signals your body it’s time to be awake, while avoiding light can help it think it’s time to be asleep.
You can jumpstart the light exposure process before you depart by adjusting your bedtime by one hour per day for three days prior to travel. If you’re heading east, go to bed one hour earlier than usual each day; make it one hour later if you’re heading west. Expose yourself to bright light upon awakening in either case, letting your body know it’s time to rise and shine.
Keep the new rhythms going strong by exposing your body to light when it needs it most. Those heading east will need a dose of light in the morning and afternoon to prompt alertness and an avoidance of light in the evening.
Those heading west will need a dose of light in the evening to stay awake until your new bedtime and an avoidance of light in the morning to get some extra sleep.
One final tip is to set a daily dose of exercise that coincides with the times you want bright light and alertness. Stick to the same time every day to keep your body in the groove until it’s time to head back to your home time zone.
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