Traveling is glamorous. Being exhausted isn’t.
Traveling for business starts out feeling kind of glamorous – until you have to fly across 3 time zones in 2 days and can’t remember whether it’s 7am or 7pm. When you fly between time zones, your internal clock gets out of sync with your day-night cycle, and sleep patterns get disturbed. Which means that just when you need to be most productive, you’re not at your best. Studies show that even one night’s lost sleep can have an impact on productivity, and there’s even a demonstrated link between sleep deprivation and the kind of rudeness that can impact your career.
So how can you ensure you’re less tired on your next trip?
Try these tips:
1. Plan ahead. Anything you can do to avoid last-minute travel stress (packing ahead of time, finishing presentations before you leave, printing your boarding pass online before you get to the airport, getting some exercise) will ensure your body isn’t using extra resources managing stress hormones – and that will help you conserve energy and ultimately sleep better when you get the opportunity.
2. Drink water – not alcohol and coffee. Dehydration can make you feel more tired and out of sorts. Drinking water will help you combat the drying effects of recycled airplane air, while alcohol and caffeine, which are diuretics, will make it worse.
3. Clear your head. If you’re prone to sinus trouble or allergies, flying and staying in unfamiliar climates can make it worse, which can lead to poor sleep. Speak to your doctor about the best ways to keep your sinuses clear when you’re travelling. (Many pharmacists recommend you use a saline irrigation system to help keep sinuses clear and prevent dryness.)
4. Light therapy. The more daylight you can get during the day while you’re working (either in the office or in your hotel room, or by taking a walk at lunch), the better your circadian rhythms will respond, which will help cue your body to sleep soundly when it gets dark.
5. Ask about ‘quiet rooms’. There’s nothing worse than having only 6 hours in which to sleep and losing 3 of those because the people down the hall are partying like it’s 1999. Some hotels offer designated quiet areas or floors – ask for these when booking. You might also consider alternate accommodations, like executive suites, which are less likely to have rowdy neighbours.
6. Eat right and exercise. It can be tempting to go out for drinks and a big fancy dinner with colleagues after you’ve finished your meetings, but you’ll feel better – and sleep better – if you eat healthily before 8pm and take a walk around the block before settling down for the night.
Think beyond the hotel room
Our clients say that one of the reasons they choose furnished suites rather than regular hotel rooms when they’re traveling is because they can establish more of a sense of ‘home’. Corporate housing allows them to cook their own meals (no weird restaurant food to keep them up at night), provides a proper bedroom, is often quieter than a bustling hotel, and often has even better amenities (like fitness centers or media rooms) than hotels. Just something to consider!