Avoiding and overcoming jet-lag

We explore how to avoid and overcome the worst affects of jet-lag

Not as glam as you think

Collectively the Work Place Travel Centre team have been travelling for work in one guise or another for well over a century, so we know only too well that work-related travel is nowhere near as glamorous as people who don’t have to do it believe that it is.

Work travel v holiday

Getting on a jet plane when it’s for a holiday is exciting but when you do it every week, work in an office and sleep in a hotel room that have been decorated in the same international style international travel soon gets to be a bit dull.

Crossing time zones

When regular international work related travel also involves crossing time zones regardless of whether hours are added or taken away you are likely to suffer from jet lag after at least one of the flights.

Crossing time zones disrupts your circadian rhythm. That’s a technical term, you’re probably more likely to refer to your biological clock.

Circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm controls the internal functions of your body and determines when you want to go to sleep or wake up.

Unfortunately, it is not quite on the ball when it comes to international travel and work commitments so when it gets a bit confused you find yourself either wide awake in the middle of the night, or fast asleep during the day.

Costs of jet-lag 

Many of us treat it as an unavoidable downside of our international careers, but news from Flight Centre Business Travel suggests that jet lag is far from being a joke and could in fact be costing the UK economy more than £240million pounds a year.

You may be present in the meeting that you travelled across time zones to attend, but when your circadian clock is out of sync with your time zone it is not surprising that many people find it difficult to represent their company successfully at meetings and events?

Lower productivity

Even if your travel was to work on a project you are very familiar with, if your body does not think you should be working your productivity levels will be lower and the risk of making mistakes higher.

The good news

The good news is that by thinking ahead jet-lag can be avoided or at least the most negative effects of it on the body including insomnia and fatigue minimised

Pasta and red wine

One of the team at Flight Centre Business Travel HQ reliably informs us that the best way to combat jet-lag is to drink red wine and eat pasta as soon as you land.

There is some logic to this, the digestion of the carbohydrates in the pasta will contribute to overcoming any fatigue.

We’re not convinced about the benefits of the red wine, unless your arrival time is late at night and you need help sleeping!

Jet-lag tips

Some other hints from Flight Centre Business Travel, the team at WPTC and some of our friendly traveller include:

Reset your watch

As soon as you board your flight, change your watch or time zone on your phone and computer to the local at your destination, and start eating and sleeping as if you were already there.

This will give your circadian clock a head start in the adjustment process and make life easier once you arrive.

Avoid alcohol

Contrary to that unnamed source at Flight Centre, try to keep your alcohol consumption to one or two drinks at the most.

Alcohol dehydrates the body. Instead stay hydrated by drinking as much water as possible.

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine like alcohol will dehydrate you and can also greatly interrupt your circadian rhythm, which in turn will magnify the effects of jet-lag.

Stretching and exercises

It’s important to get up and walk around regularly during your flight, as you wouldn’t normally sit at your office desk for such a long time without having a stretch.

Doing simple little exercises either in your seat or around the plane, if you’re feeling up to it, will help increase your circulation and generally help you to recover from a long-haul flight.

Only sleep at night

If you arrive at your destination in the daytime, resist all temptation to go to sleep.

Light is one of the best cues you can give your biological clock – so if you’re feeling unbearably tired, try and wake up by going for a walk or jog outdoors rather than having a nap.

However, if you do feel like sleep is the only option, try to limit your nap to just 20–30 minutes.

This way you will adapt to your new time zone a lot quicker.