Many of us have experienced this. You’re on the road on a business trip, out of your element, missing your own comfy bed, in a different time zone, and consuming caffeine in an attempt to function. All these things have significant effects on your circadian rhythm (i.e. your body’s biological clock) and can lead to decreased quantity and quality of sleep. As you may know, sleep-deprivation can affect your mood, energy levels, and overall productivity. Sometimes there’s no way to avoid traveling. It is often a key part of conducting business and necessary to keep your partners and clientele updated and satisfied. Here are a few tips to keep your mind and body in good condition while on the road.
Sometimes business trips can pop up without warning. But, in cases where you have a bit of a heads up, it may not be a bad idea to start adjusting your sleep/wake cycle. Imagine this. You live in New York and have a week-long conference in L.A. just days away. Setting your alarms back by even just a half-hour or so in the days prior can help mitigate the jet lag. If you’re already on the local time schedule, you’ll be more likely to function to the best of your abilities.
Conform to the Local Schedule
Even with adequate preparation, you might get tempted to fall back into your old sleep schedule and habits. Fight the urge! You know the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Having a friend or business partner aid in keeping you awake can facilitate adjustment to the local time-zone. Try to sleep when the locals do. Wake when the locals do. Dine when the locals do. Keeping yourself in tune with the current time, especially with the help of others, is a good way to add to the success of your business trip.
Diet and Exercise
Although it may be easy to slip up on the road, a proper diet and adequate exercise should not be avoided in your travels. Yes, it is very convenient and oftentimes cheaper to settle for a delivery pizza or perhaps run through a well-known burger joint drive-thru. But, did you know that consuming calorie-dense meals, especially late at night, can be detrimental to your sleep? Remember, eating a heart-healthy diet is important both at home and on the road.
Make sure you keep your body moving as well. Most hotels have exercise equipment or perhaps even a pool available for your use. Getting at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day while you’re on the road can boost your energy levels and mood.
Proper Sleep Hygiene
Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to high-quality restorative sleep. If at all possible, avoid loud noises and bright lights. That means no TV or electronic device use!. Try to avoid screentime by at least 1 hour before bedtime. Even with a blue-light filter, electronic devices can prevent you from getting the good night’s rest you need. If you do find yourself struggling for some shut-eye, try some meditation techniques or perhaps reading a book. Staring at a phone engages your mind, and works against your getting a good night’s rest.
Melatonin is a popular and widely available sleep aid. It is a natural hormone produced by your body and helps to regulate your circadian ythm. Try to start with the lowest dose possible and try not to exceed 3 mg. Be wary if you find yourself relying on this supplement nightly, or on increasingly higher doses. If so, you might be suffering from clinical insomnia and should consult your doctor or other health professional.
Avoid Nicotine and Alcohol
Many individuals turn to tobacco and nicotine-containing products as a means of stress relief. But! These products cause vasoconstriction and reduce blood flow to your brain. They also cause oxidative damage to your cardiovascular system, increase stress hormone levels (such as cortisol), and increase your risk of heart disease, cancer and having a stroke. Nicotine is a stimulant and also inhibits your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Although it may be tempting to have a nice glass of wine or shot of your favorite liquor as a nightcap, alcohol has detrimental effects on your sleep health. Alcohol might help you pass out, but it alters your sleep pattern and prevents you from obtaining the deep restorative sleep your body needs to recover and function.
At the end of the day, try to keep up with your regular sleep habits when traveling the best you can. If you follow some of our tips above, your trip is sure to be more restful!