Jet lag occurs because of a disruption to your body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) due to traveling across multiple time zones (think two or more). Your circadian rhythm is a natural cycle that tells your body when to rise and fall asleep among many other processes.
Typical symptoms of jet lag include difficulty sleeping at bedtime while struggling to wake up in the morning, daytime fatigue, stomach problems, and a decrease in cognitive performance.
While your smartphone automatically resets to represent the new time, your bodies internal software doesn’t operate as efficiently.
With that said, jet lag doesn’t have to equate to an automatic sentence of decreased performance and quality of life. In fact, using these four strategies, you can lessen the effects of jet lag during your next extended trip.
- Stay hydrated
Whether you’re seeking improvement in the boardroom or the gym, it’s essential to cover the fundamentals before anything else. And when it comes to travel health, it doesn’t get any more fundamental than remembering to stay hydrated.
During a recent trip to Portugal, hydration was a top priority. While drinking water is important, there’s an often forgotten area that needs to stay hydrated and that is your skin.
You can become dehydrated on a plane due to the air circulation systems because the systems cabin pressure combined with the dry, recirculated air takes moisture from your skin.
A simple tip to avoid this situation is to pack a skin moisturizer with you.
- Implement light therapy
Bright light exposure is one of the best methods for adjusting to a new time zone after traveling across multiple ones. However, it’s important to avoid and seek out light at specific times.
During my trip to Portugal, I was traveling eastward which meant I was advancing my clock. Therefore, seeking morning light and avoiding late afternoon light would help the adjustment process to the earlier time zone. If you’re heading west, then apply the opposite method.
For the more technology savvy crowd, you can use a device called the human charger.
This light therapy device looks like an iPod and comes with special LED light headphones which help you adjust to the new time zones. It also comes with an app where you enter your flight information and the app will tell you when to use the device to remove any guesswork.
- Prepare a sleeping kit
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who can sleep on planes, it’s often times not of high quality. Thus when you arrive at your destination, you’re not feeling in a high performing state.
With that said, to increase your chances of obtaining quality and quantity sleep so you’ll arrive in a better state, pack a personal sleep kit.
Inside your kit, a couple items I recommend are an eye mask, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, something to layer up with, and a pair of blue light blocking glasses in case you plan on working or reading on a device in which you want to limit light exposure.
- Be picky about your plane and time of arrival.
Scheduling arrivals for the daytime help because it’s easier to stay awake due to bright light exposure. Also, you’re more tempted to explore the new surroundings because you have the full day ahead of you which leads to fatigue later at night.
Lastly, if possible, choose the Airbus 350 or 380. Those planes have humidification systems which help the air retain moisture preventing you from dehydrating. They also have an intricate LED lighting system producing 16.7 million shades of color helping you regulate to the time zone you’re entering because the colors simulate different times of the day.
Completely eliminating jet lag is unlikely. But with a few small and effective steps, you can arrive in a better state ready to lead and perform at your best.