Jet lag is possibly the only downside to travelling overseas.
That sick feeling you get in your stomach and an overwhelming tiredness — there’s really no worse way to start or end a holiday or business trip.
Interestingly, however, is that everyone seems to have their own remedy to overcome it.
Business Insider reached out to CEOs and executives who regularly travel to find out their secrets for beating jet lag.
Here’s what they had to say.
The only remedy for jetlag is jumping off the plane and into the ocean. Whether it’s the middle of winter or 8pm on a Sunday night, getting the salt water up my nostrils wakes me up and makes me feel alive, refreshed and ready to rock’n’roll again.
As I’ve been travelling a lot more for work these days and especially with my World Bootcamp Tour fast approaching it is really important for me to listen to my body to try and avoid or lessen the effects of jet lag.
I always do my homework and find out what the time is in the country that I’m flying to so when I get on the plane I can help my body adjust right away. I’ll then try and stay awake or go to sleep to match what time of day it is at my destination. I usually do one of my 28-minute high intensity resistance training circuits when I arrive at a new destination, it helps revitalise my body and I feel more relaxed and ‘at home’. I believe the more ‘normal’ things you do, the easier it is for your body to adjust to where you are and the time zone you’re in. Ginger tea also really helps me if I have it before or during a long flight.
Keeping your hydration up is also vital. Planes can leave you de‐hydrated so make sure you’re replenishing any lost fluids with water when you’re flying and keep this up when you land!
I travel a lot. I've been based in Sydney and responsible for JAPAC, while working for San Francisco-based companies, for about 6 years. I find myself travelling Sydney - Singapore, Sydney - Tokyo, and Sydney - San Francisco on a pretty regular basis.
My default plan to reduce my jet lag is to take my running gear when I'm away and get in the ocean as soon as I can when I return. I find it hard to adjust when in San Francisco - especially if I'm only there for a few days of meetings. We all know that GMT+10 to GMT-8 is really tough; you can't sleep at night and can't stay awake in the afternoons. So I tend to run a lot, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I recently fell into afternoon 'broken neck' syndrome at a quarterly business review in San Fran. I woke up to see a room full of colleagues all looking at me with big grins.
I always make sure I take ginger flavoured chewing gum with me when I fly. As well as tasting great, it instantly alleviates any nausea as a result of flying and jet lag.
I also make sure to take a good book with me on long flights so I have something to pass the time. It’s also a good fall back if there is nothing on the entertainment system that I am interested in seeing.
I find exercise as soon as I get off the plane (or on the first morning in the new location) is the best way to reset the body clock. Ideally you want to exercise outdoors and in the sun, to get your body used to the new timezone. Exercise accompanied by caffeine - works a treat.
I love travelling! Over the course of a year I will usually have two business trip to Europe and one more international trip for holidays. I find that I do get jet lag, but luckily not too bad.
There are a few things I always do when travelling. Firstly, when I get on the plane I'll usually check emails one last time and once in the air I'll eat, watch a movie or two and try get some sleep according to the time zone Im flying to - this helps me adjust quicker when I'm on the ground so I can start business if need be.
If I had to give anyone else tips I would say try get a good nights sleep the night before. I usually struggle to sleep for a long period of time during the flight so a good sleep the night before helps. On arrival I'll shower and change and have plans to do something rather just resting. Forcing myself to work for the rest of the day or going out to dinner with friends that night means I wont be tempted to sleep throughout the day and prolong any jet lag.
Jetlag is beatable. On a recent five day round trip (Sydney-Los Angeles-San Diego-Sydney), I was dreading the 'I'm going to hit a cement wall' feeling on my return, particularly given unexpected expansion plans that needed to be executed immediately.
During a long haul flight, I usually try to get to sleep naturally after a glass of champagne, meal and movie. This time round I tried melatonin, a nutritional supplement that triggers your body to get ready to sleep. It helped me fall asleep quickly, and because it is what our body is used to, I woke up feeling very fresh and well rested.
I also change the time of my watch to the destination as soon as I get on the plane. I find that if my mind is working in the local destination time, I'll adjust sooner. Another tip I would recommend is to eat lightly on the flights and use the earplugs and mask, to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Jeremy Crooks, managing director Austalia and New Zealand at Criteo, stays awake to align his body clock with the destination's time zone.
I’m fortunate that work takes me to some really interesting places from Japan to Paris, London and New York and closer to home in Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand. While it's always exciting to meet colleagues and clients from around the world, jet lag isn't my favourite thing to deal with on a Monday.
I'll usually try and fly the day prior to meetings if it’s a long trip and to stay up so that I can align my body clock with the local time. Failing that, at Criteo, we are lucky to have a flexible workplace and a new office right on the harbour, which means when I fly back in to Sydney on the red-eye, I can take some time out to step outside, get some fresh air, sunshine and a bit of exercise along the water, which tends to do the trick! We also have a relaxation/ meditation room dedicated for the team to take some time out and relax, so I'll try and get some quiet time in during the day.
I’ve been the worst flyer since I was a little girl but I realised once I moved to Australia from the UK, it was going to seriously stop me doing things unless I got over it. So I faced it head-on – I’ve given myself the role of CEO which forced me to fly every week, fly the best I can afford, meditate through the bumps and make sure I sit next to the best looking man on my flight so that he can hold my hand on the way down. It’s worked for me (and the man in 1B!).
Orange Juice is the secret!
I take many long distance flights throughout the year, visiting our factories throughout Asia and warehouses in the UK. Early on I struggled with jet lag until a fellow traveller gave me a tip of drinking orange juice throughout the flight. I was surprised that it actually works, and use that as my number one fight against jet lag. There is nothing better than landing after a 10 hour plus flight and being able to go straight into your day without any down time.
Wine. No, seriously, it’s walking. That’s the big secret. And also wine. Whenever I arrive at a long-haul destination I get outside at the first practical opportunity and walk for as long as possible. Not only does it stretch out my legs and clear my mind, it is the absolute best way to take in the surroundings of a new environment, experience chance encounters and be present in that place at that time. As for the wine, despite myriad articles advising against alcohol consumption to battle jet lag I find a glass with dinner on the plane and with the first dinner at my destination helps with relaxation and offers just the nudge towards sleep that I need.
I follow a routine which starts from the airport lounge right until I arrive at my destination. I use the lounge time to catch up on emails and any other last minute things I need to respond to while I still have internet connectivity. Once I get on the plane, I set my watch to the destination's time and then I use the time in the air as if it were a normal office day to get some work done.
I find that eating a light meal on the flight is much better when you're trying to get some sleep. Where possible, I've made it a habit to book meetings as soon as I land at my destination and keep that momentum going until it's time to call it a day. Living according to the destination's time zone is key to fending off any jet lag.
In previous roles I traveled on a bi-weekly basis and in my current role I will travel a lot, both domestic and international.
Do you have a routine when you get on the plane?
Absolutely. I always spend the first 15 minutes reading the local news and drinking a bottle of water. Staying hydrated is key. On shorter flights (sub 2hrs) I typically review proposals and try to get something to eat. On longer flights pending the time of day I either try to maximize my sleep (night) or work on a medium to long-term project. A good uninterrupted 4 hours are rare and a flight provides the perfect opportunity to get one big piece dealt with in its entirety. You'd be surprised in realizing how much actual work you could get done in 4 hours if you stay off emails.
Do you have a secret in overcoming jet lag?
For me I find that three tings really standout in terms of keeping my body in check. Firstly, I always stay hydrated. Secondly I use exercise as a way to get my body tired, either upon arrival in the evening or just before my flight if I'm flying overnight. Lastly the best trick is to use an early morning as a way to reset, if you feel out of sync force yourself up early and the rest of the day typically falls into place.
Mat Jacobson, founder & CEO of Ducere, avoids alcohol, drinks water and sleeps at least a few hours.
The first thing I do is think about the new time zone as soon as I step on plane and adjust my time accordingly. That way I try to adjust sleeping on plane not from where I have just been but where I am going to. Planes are not great for good rest, so I try to avoid alcohol, drink water and sleep at least a few hours. If you get the plane tip right, I think more than half the battle is won.
Sometimes time zone problems can’t be avoided but I just spent 5 days in Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands for the exclusive Change Makers & Rule Breakers event hosted by Sir Richard Branson. It’s a long way away and a very big time zone gap, my solution was to stay up till quite late and get closer to Melbourne evening time, have a bit less sleep than usual but as I was only away a few days, it was easier to not totally alter sleep pattern.
I try to do some exercise while travelling but I’m not sure this really helps with jet lag. Generally my solution is to work really hard and keep very busy, this forces you to be alert even if tired, but then helps with sleeping overnight. I’m not sure there are really any fool proof remedies, but keeping busy tends to either avoid time zone issues, or at least be too busy to worry about it. I certainly have had a few days where 3 coffees in the morning was the only way to get started.
For an executive of a global company, jet lag is an entrepreneurial necessity that, like some others, can be avoided through a small dose of delusion. From the moment I step on the plane (or wake up on the plane, depending on how long the flight is), I mentally put myself in my future time zone. I change the date and time preferences on my computer and Google Calendar and don't mention the words 'jet lag' or 'time difference' with the people I'm travelling with. When I land, I pretend my day began at my destination and go from there. One caution with delusion — the dosage is tricky. Too little doesn't work and too much... well, we all know where that leads.
Trudy McDonald, founder and managing director of Talent Code Pty Ltd, incorporates non-work related activities into her travel schedule to re-energise.
It is not uncommon that I pass through three states every week so it is critical to the success of the business and my personal health that I maintain my energy levels, drive and focus.
My travel tip is to plan ahead to make sure you can incorporate some form of non-work related activity into your travel schedule that re-energises you. In my case, I have a passion for classical ballet so I have a regular dance school that I attend in every state across the country. As much as possible I squeeze in an evening dance class – there is nothing worse than getting off a flight after a days work and going straight to the hotel room. For me, expending energy creates more energy!
When travelling, I tend to steer clear of drinking any alcohol on the plane. The dry air in the cabin makes you dehydrated as it is, so alcohol is only going to make things worse. As soon as I get to my seat, it's shoes off and socks on, to help with the blood circulation. From there it's all about getting in sync with the timezone I'll be travelling to. I try to sleep at the time that's between my normal bedtime and the expected bedtime at my destination. Choosing the least interesting movie or a nature documentary, usually helps me get some sleep on the plane. Once I arrive at my destination, I find it's best to spend as much time in the daylight as possible to re-set my body clock. If I'm feeling restless and struggling to fall asleep, a physical activity that will tire out the body such as running or swimming helps.
Beating jet lag is the name of the game at Invoice2go. We have offices in Sydney, Palo Alto, Jakarta, and Cebu, and we travel pretty regularly between them. When our team travels from our Sydney to Palo Alto office, we cross the international date line and start the work day earlier than when we left.
The main thing is staying up until it’s bed time in your new time zone. Going for a run can help you sleep easier when you need to. Always try to take the red eye so you actually have a chance of sleeping on the plane. I leave my watch on my home time while I’m on the plane, then change it immediately when I land to get on the right time zone. Eating well is key too - it’s too easy to eat unhealthy food in transit, but that just makes you feel worse.
It's not a massive secret, but as a regular traveller I have found that what works best for me is always pushing through and staying awake until at least 9pm. I try to never sleep in the day I arrive and I always work the day I get back from overseas to stay busy and beat jet lag.
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