Q: My business travel is really upsetting both my work and home life. Twice a month I fly from the west coast to the east for business. I have no choice. But I can never sleep on the planes, I am too wired to sleep when I arrive and I am usually kinda useless the next day. Any suggestions?
A. I feel your pain, sister.
Here is my travel horror story: Back in the days before over the counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM, or the widespread use of prescriptions like Ambien, I once had to fly cross-country to do a big – BIG – event in New York. I arranged my travel schedule so that I would arrive in the city around 6:00 pm, figuring that would give me plenty of time to land, get to my hotel, get dinner, and get a good night’s sleep.
Wrong, it all went so wrong.
The first plane was late, I therefore missed a flight, and by the time I got to midtown Manhattan it was almost midnight. I was hungry, whooped, running on adrenaline, and now worried about the event the next day. I grabbed a piece of pizza, took a shower to get the long day off of me, and went to bed as I had to be up at 6:00 a.m.
Of course, as soon as I got into bed around 1:00 a.m., I kept thinking, “Sleep! I must get to sleep!” That it was only 10:00 p.m. in my body, and that I was amped up and nervous made sleep all but impossible. The harder I tried to sleep, the harder it was to fall asleep.
I finally passed out about 4:00 a.m. Let’s just say the event went fine. Let’s just say that.
Anyway, ever since, I have taken a keen interest in ways to beat jet lag and related travel sleep disorders. Here are some of the best ways I have come across:
Dress appropriately: Researchers at Queen Mary College at the University of London discovered that our biological clocks are not only affected by changes in light, but equally, by changes in temperature. “This means putting on extra clothes, drinking hot drinks and standing by a heater could improve the feeling of sleepiness caused by jetlag.”
Let’s also note that the days of dressing like you are on Mad Men when you fly are long gone. No, I’m not saying you can now dress like a slob (though some folks do think that that is acceptable), but I am saying dressing comfortably is smart. Not long ago I was on a cross-country flight and sitting across from me was ex-Laker great AC Green. AC was dressed in a sharp tracksuit and I thought, “You know, that’s a pretty good idea!”
Homeopathic remedies: Of course there are all sorts of natural ways to beat the effects of jet lag, starting with melatonin. One remedy that many long-haul travelers swear by is something called No-Jet-lag. The product is taken at takeoff, and then every two hours in flight. Says Golf & Travel magazine, “The question is, does it work? After testing No-Jet-Lag - once on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, and once from New York to London – we enthusiastically say yes.”
Get on the local time zone early: Some folks solve the problem by switching to the new time zone a day or two before they travel, thus, if you will be flying from the west to the east coast, try going to bed at 9:00 pm instead of midnight for a few days before heading out.
No naps, and take drugs: Personally, I have found that this works best. Stay awake, and time your Ambien for the new time zone, so that you get a full night’s sleep when everyone else there is.
Today’s Tip: Do people know your business hours? Would you like a free sign that says when you are open and when you are closed? Then hustle over to Signs.com. They just announced their first ever “Business Hours Giveaway” and they are giving away free business hours decals to the first 5,000 businesses that visit their site. Surf on over and redeem your sign.
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