How to minimise jet lag

Frequent travellers will have experienced jet lag at one time or another. Our circadian rhythms (otherwise known as our body’s internal clock) are slow to adjust to new time zones, so we end up snoozing mid-afternoon or wide awake throughout the night. This leads to fatigue, indigestion and concentration loss, among other side effects, which makes getting on with work a tough endeavour.

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There’s no cure as such, as it affects people in different ways, but here are some ways, courtesy of Business Traveller UK, to minimise its impact on your wellbeing and productivity.

BEFORE TRAVELLING

West is best, east is a beast

As a business traveller, it’s likely that you won’t have control over your destination, but it’s worth bearing in mind that going east will take its toll – there’s less time in the day to adjust to the new time zone. Plan ahead and make sure you get enough sleep in the days leading up to travel.

Choose a flight with a daytime arrival

One way to adjust to a different time zone is to expose yourself to as much daylight as possible. Circadian rhythms are shaped by light and darkness, and can help you to push through the drowsiness.

Prepare by altering your habits

If you know you are travelling to the US, for instance, try staying up a little later than normal the week before. That way the change won’t be such a shock.

WHILE TRAVELLING

Set your watch to the destination’s time zone

It’s simple, but it tends to do the trick, adjusting your body to the new clock before you touch down.

Abstain from caffeine and alcohol

Both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants, so don’t be tempted to consume them when you are flying, as they will dehydrate you and interrupt your sleep. Instead, drink plenty of water and use hydrating creams and moisturisers.

Steer clear of the screen

While it’s tough to cut back on screen time, you need to switch off (in every sense). Many phones have a “night mode” feature, which shifts the display to the warmer end of the colour spectrum, but nothing is better than the “off” button.

ONCE YOU ARRIVE

Get on to local time when you arrive

Don’t give in to the temptation of a quick nap when you arrive. Push on through, make the most of any daylight there is – go for a walk and explore the local area. Even going shopping is better than an afternoon siesta. Then try to stay up until late evening to minimise the chances of waking up in the middle of the night.

Be flexible

Eat meals in line with the new time zone and pick foods that are rich in tryptophan – for example, oily fish, eggs and spinach – as this helps to stimulate melatonin, which is involved in regulating your body clock.

Exercise

Working out during the day will make you physically tired by the evening and help to improve your sleeping patterns.

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