If you travel frequently, whether for work or personal leisure, you have probably experienced the horrors of jet lag.
Often referred to as “desynchronosis” in the medical world, jet lag can last for several days and throw your body’s “master clock” off schedule for an entire week or more.
If you want to keep jet lag at arm’s length, consider taking these five steps before your next big trip — especially if you’re returning to work on a Monday.
1. Reset the time on your devices
Before departing your destination, reset your time-monitoring devices, such as your watch or mobile phone. This will help you mentally prepare for the change in time zones by shifting you internal clock. For example, you may realize that it’s midnight at your end destination, and that you should go to bed early so your body can more readily cope with the time change.
2. Listen to meditative music
From the moment that you enter an airport or train station, you are bombarded with public address announcements and the din of people clamoring to find their seats. The constant affront can keep you on edge and unable to find peace. We recommend listening to peaceful, meditative music that can help you feel more tranquil and serene.
Instrumental music is especially effective, such as piano solos like Matthew Mayer’s “Beautiful You” or Brad Jacobsen’s “The Arrow and the Song,” both of which can prevent you from being distracted by your loud surroundings and instead envelope you with equanimity.
3. Stay hydrated
A climate-controlled cabin can have a limited amount of humidity. In fact, on a 10-hour flight, you could lose as much as 8 percent of your bodily water. Dehydration can make you fatigued and cause you all sorts of physical ailments, from headaches to pain in your joints. One way to ensure that your body stays hydrated is to start drinking water before you head to the airport.
Drinking water during your flight will help prevent exhaustion from setting in. On longer flights, try drinking about eight ounces of water for every hour you are in the air, suggests the Aerospace Medical Association.
4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol on long flights
Coffee, tea and other beverages with caffeine will artificially keep you awake and interfere with your body’s natural sleep schedule.
Similarly, drinking alcohol will leave you even more dehydrated on a flight, which make it more difficult for your body to recover from your travels. Studies show that alcohol inhibits your ability to attain R.E.M. (a.k.a. “rapid eye movement”) sleep, which is the deep rest that your body needs. When there is a disturbance to your R.E.M. sleep, you may wake up feeling drowsy and tired.
5. If possible, book your travels on the weekend
Landing in your return destination on a Monday and heading straight to the office can be challenging. It might take a couple days for your body to adjust, and you’ll have to sit through meetings feeling tired and unfocused.
Instead, consider traveling over the weekend so you can give yourself more time to recover from a long journey. This way, you can start your work week feeling more refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to perform at your best.
Deepak Chopra is the co-author of “The Healing Self,” founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of Jiyo and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal are the co-creators of Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.
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