One thing that international project managers have to contend with is travel and the impact of travelling in different timezones. I have always enjoyed travelling but jetlag is one area where I always struggled so I decided to compile a list of things that have helped me combat the impact of jetlag to maximise my ability to concentrate and work effectively whenever i’m travelling.
Sleep is vital to recover. If you’re able to nap on the plane or once at your destination, do! I always try to stay awake until “bedtime” at my destination and then try to get a good night’s sleep. The time difference between CET and ET is never normally an issue but I have greater issues going eastwards.
Plenty of sunshine
This is one thing I try to force into my day. A run in the morning? A walk at lunch? Any way to get outside for some fresh air and vitamin D. Gentle sports are a great way to help with the “jetlag fuzziness”. One thing that is known to make jetlag worse is being in artificial light so try to make sure that you get some daylight.
Adjust meal times
A few days before travel, I try to adjust when I eat/go to bed to meet my destination. This helps my body adjust on travel days but it can feel strange to eat breakfast at dinner time!
This was one of the biggest wins for me in battling jetlag. A few days before and after I go to bed one hour earlier/later to keep in line with the destination. Adjusting my natural circadian rhythm is useful for trips that last a week or longer.
In my years of travelling, I have consumed A LOT of caffeine. I collect Starbucks mugs from every destination I travel to but I realised that coffee caused me a lot more issues in adjusting to each timezone than without it. I think coffee has its place but if you can use it sparingly it has a greater effect.
I have a very good friend who travels extensively for work and when I asked his secret, he sent me a picture of an espresso and a sleep mask!
One of the most important things when travelling and adjusting to new timezones is to try and avoid additional stress on your body as you are more likely to get sick as a result. I recommend eating well, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep to help you recover.
I’d love to learn what are your top tips for beating jetlag?