Jet lag affects all travelers and unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it. Travelling to a different time zone disrupts our circadian rhythm – our body clock – and our body needs anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to acclimatise to a new time zone. Frequent business travelers simply don’t have enough time to adjust before they are on their way again.
Bertrand Saillet, general manager at FCM Travel Solutions Asia, has some serious experience of how best to cope with flight fatigue and how to prevent and reduce its effects, allowing you to feel better and get on with business sooner.
If you can influence the schedule of your business travel, chose to fly overnight with a morning arrival at your destination. Ensure your booking also factors in at least half a day or more of free time before your first meeting. Before you board the plane, make use of the airport lounge, but avoid heavy dishes and go for lighter meals. As soon as the plane’s cabin door closes, set your clocks to your destination’s time zone. That way your mind will already sync with the destination long before the plane lands.
On the plane
You may find it hard to sleep on a plane for several reasons – a temperature that’s too hot or too cold, loud plane mates, flight announcements or turbulence. You can prevent environmental insomnia – lack of sleep brought on by your immediate conditions – by using earplugs, an eye mask, a neck pillow and a blanket. Base your sleep and activity schedule on the plane on the time of day at your destination. If you’re scheduled to arrive in the morning, use your long-haul flight to get as much rest as possible so you’re prepared to hit the ground running once you arrive. When it’s daytime at your destination, try to be as active as you can on the plane while exposing yourself to light.
If your flight has a stopover, taking a shower at the arrivals lounge will wake you up and make you feel better. If you have an extra hour before you board the plane again, walk around the airport to get your body moving and your brain more active. If the journey ahead of you is long and you didn’t have enough sleep during the first flight, sleeping in airport lounges can sometimes be easier than on the plane itself. If you’re fading, it’s important to listen to your body and rest. However, remember to adjust your sleeping time to the time zone of your destination.
Travelling west tends to be an easier adjustment, as it’s more difficult to advance rather than delay the body’s internal clock. On arrival at your destination try to stay in a natural sunlight as much as possible. This assists the body clock in knowing that it’s still daylight. A short walk or a few exercises at the hotel gym will help to burn excess energy prior to sleeping. Lastly, before going to sleep, mimic your usual bedtime routine and use some relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
Before your business engagements begin, try to enjoy yourself in the new time zone, rather than stressing about the sleep you’ve lost. Rest, relax and unwind – it will definitely help your body clock to adjust.
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