How to Conquer Jet Lag


Since taking on a new global role last June, I’ve done a lot of international travel.

I enjoy meeting clients all over the world. But I’ve found that it can be difficult to remain composed and alert while I’m hopping time zones.

It’s virtually impossible to be effective at your position when jet lagged. After speaking with other world travelers (especially Venugopal Pai of Nutanix) and sharing some tips, I’ve put together a list that should help you reduce jet lag—if not allow you to sidestep it altogether.

Orient Yourself

Whether you’re flying to Tokyo or London, change your watch to your destination’s time zone the moment you board your plane. Your mind will have additional time to orient to your destination. Don’t wait until you land.

The real pros adjust to the time zone they’re traveling to a day or two before they take off. Obviously, not everyone can afford that luxury. But if you can, try it out.

Bring Your Own Food on the Plane

It’s important to sync up your meals with your destination time zone.

Bring along your own food so you don’t have to rely on airplane serving times. Opt for lighter meals that contain protein, complex carbohydrates, and plant-based foods.

Arrive in Time for Dinner

You’ve been sitting in a metal tube for hours, so you’ll be tired when you land. While often not possible, if you can pick a flight that lands right before dinner, you can get situated, eat a meal, and get to sleep at the same time as the locals.

Exercise Upon Arrival

John Donnelly has been traveling across the globe for more than three decades. He always goes for a run first thing in the morning after he lands.

According to Donnelly, running is his “antidote to jet lag.” While it takes his coworkers a few days to adjust to the local time zone, he does it quickly. Personally, I try to find a local Bikram (hot) yoga class.

Stay Up

Let’s say you’ve flown around the world. If you fall asleep in the afternoon at your hotel and wake up at midnight, how can you expect to feel refreshed the next day?

Instead, force yourself to stay up as long as you can. Sure, you might be borderline delusional before you finally go to bed, but your body will thank you when you wake up the next day—on local schedule.

Take Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Supplements of the hormone can help you adjust to your new time zone when you travel. In fact, a 2002 study revealed that melatonin can help travelers who are hopping five or more time zones beat jet lag.

Be careful. You shouldn’t take melatonin on shorter flights. You’ll wake up groggy, which probably won’t help you close your next deal.

Hydrate Early and Often

Dehydration makes us tired. Also, does anything sound worse than flying halfway around the world with a parched mouth?

Make sure you drink a healthy amount of water when you’re traveling internationally.

Wear Eye Shades

Light—and its absence—plays a crucial role in jet lag. Wearing eye shades will help you block out light when you’re trying to catch up on sleep before you land.

If you follow these tips, you should see an increase in productivity while you’re traveling. You’ll also be that much more fun for your friends and family when you land back home.

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