A little adjustment to your sleep schedule before you travel can make you alert and ready for business when you reach your destination.
Despite the ease and relatively low cost of modern telecommunications, it is still necessary for business people to travel to be onsite. This is especially true for business owners who want to grow their businesses internationally and need to meet suppliers and customers to establish the personal connections that will be the foundation of future success. Flying to remote suppliers or clients makes jet lag a reality that should be factored into travel plans.
Jet lag or “circadian rhythm desynchronosis” results when high-speed travel from east to west or west to east through multiple time zones interrupts the 24-hour or “circadian” rhythm that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and controls the biochemical, physiological and behavioural activities in our bodies.
Symptoms of Jet Lag
The following are the classic symptoms of jet lag:
headaches, inability to sleep and irritability
shortened attention span
loss of appetite
Facts about Jet Lag
The effects of jet lag vary from person to person and the distance and direction travelled:
symptoms become more severe once two time zones have been crossed
symptoms are more severe flying west to east
upsets patterns for sleeping, eating and working
older people take longer to get back to normal circadian rhythm
cabin air pressure and reduced amount of oxygen reaching the brain may increase the severity of jet lag in some travellers
flying north/south within the same time zone will not cause jet lag
north/south travel may exacerbate symptoms if also combined with travelling through multiple time zones (e.g., Vancouver to Sydney, Australia).
Adjust your sleep patterns before you leave home.
Combating Jet Lag
There are several ways to minimize jet lag but they are not always effective. Suggestions made by researchers include the following.
Do not consume alcoholic or caffeine-based beverages during the flight.
Stay hydrated by drinking water.
Be physical fitness regime since physically fit persons suffer less from jet lag.
Before your flight, adjust your sleep pattern based on the direction to be travelled. If travelling from west to east, accustom your body to the destination by getting to bed earlier and getting up earlier. Research suggests that going to bed one hour sooner for each of the three days prior to your trip and exposing yourself to bright lights (at least 5000 lux) for at least 3.5 hours when you wake up will help. Thus, on day one of the three days, go to bed at 10, the next day at 9 and the next day at 8 and get up one hour earlier and expose yourself to bright lights or bright sunlight depending on the season.
If travelling from west to east, reverse the sleep pattern adjustment by going to bed later and getting up as if you had had your normal number of hours of sleep.
When arriving at your destination, adapt to the local timetable. For instance, if you arrive at 11 a.m. local time but it is really 6 p.m. at home, adjust your schedule and habits as if it were 11 a.m.
If you cannot prepare for the time zone of your destination, you may want to consider arriving two or three days earlier to give your body the opportunity to adjust. Not only will this tactic increase your level of performance, it will also enable you to learn about points of interest, the culture and the people at your destination, all of which can be topics for discussion when meeting with your new contacts.
The Final Analysis
Business travellers want to make the most of their time, establish solid personal relationships with their business peers and negotiate the best possible deal with new suppliers or clients. To do so it is in the best interests of your company to minimize the impact of jet lag so you and your staff are at the top of your game when you represent your business whether it is on the other side of Canada or on the other side of the world.
This article is reprinted from the newsletter BUSINESS MATTERS with the permission of CPA Canada. BUSINESS MATTERS is a bimonthly newsletter prepared by the CPA Canada for the clients of its members.
BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.