Business travels are often something one dreams of at Business School, determining the choice of a career in global companies.
Yet, you learn not to be so enthusiast, once they actually become part of your job.
Jet lag often implies sleep deprivation, fatigue and stress due to a mismatching of our body internal clock with the current day-night cycle.
Nonetheless, business trips require high performance levels, the ability to quickly connect with different cultures and habits, organization and clearness of mind: and all this must be acquired in spite of a sleep-deprived body.
Travelling west or east has a different impact on the body, since the first means gaining time (easier to adjust to, implying an earlier bedtime), while the latter means losing time, causing difficulties to fall asleep.
In any case, sleep-deprivation is one of the main consequences of jet lag and it affects our working performance deeply. A study of travellers on trips crossing more than two time zones and lasting 2 to 4 days, conducted by Alertness Solution, enlightened that:
- a few hours of lost sleep are sufficient to reduce your performance in a business trip;
- business travellers are not aware of their performance level decrease (with a positive self-evaluation, notwithstanding their actual output);
- study participants registered a total sleep loss of almost 8 hours by the time they returned home, the equivalent of one full night's sleep;
- travellers tend to perform better in mid-day, yet normally morning is perceived as the best moment to work;
The same study found out that those who exercised during their trip performed 61% better than non-exercisers.
In order to fight sleep-deprivation during business travels, as well as other consequences of jet lag, experts agree that nothing like exposure to natural light will do.
Sunlight activates the pineal gland, triggering a physical process set your body’s internal clock (or circadian cycle). Darkness lowers your body temperature and triggers the production of melatonin, inducing your body to sleep.
Yet, to adequate to those natural signals can be difficult. Online, you can find a number of applications that will help you plan a new sleep schedule according to your trip. E.g. you can consult Jet Lag Rooster that is an online calculator and will suggest you when to seek sunlight and take melatonin according to your trip, giving you different options so that you can better fit your sleep schedule in your business one.
So, next time you plan a business trip, make sure you have a sleep schedule and help yourself with a little exercise every day.