Most event planners and managers I know travel for work. A lot. They travel for gigs, meetings, networking events, and professional development opportunities. While it feels good to watch those frequent flier miles rack up, such travel can take a toll on your body. In a recent study published by researchers from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey, people who travel extensively travel can face several negative health consequences.
Some of these risks are exacerbated by a phenomenon with which you are probably familiar; jet lag. And it isn’t just that you feel tired. When crossing back and forth through multiple time zones, you are disrupting your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. This can lead to discomfort, fogginess, and other physical effects that make it hard to adjust once you’ve arrived at your destination.
But work is work. You’ve still got to travel. And often, you’ve got to hit the ground running when you land. It’d be nice to have a little “me” time but that rarely happens. Usually, you’re leaving the airport and heading straight to an event.
While not all of these might be doable given your particular situation, here are 6 tips to help clear your mind, get on your A-game, and fight back against jet lag.
1. Start Training Early
Most travel experts recommend that you begin to adjust your sleep patterns a few days leading up to a long flight; 1-2 hours later when flying westward or 1-2 hours earlier when flying eastward. This can be tough if you’re working long hours just prior to traveling. If possible, work with your event team or organization in the days leading up to your travel to pass off certain management responsibilities.
2. Short Trip? Stay On Your Home Time Zone
Sometimes, the best way to beat jet lag is to not fight it at all! The American Academy of Sleep Medicine encourages travelers to stay in their home time zones on trips lasting less than two days. The reason? The number of days it takes for your body to acclimate to the time change is likely longer than the length of your trip.
Sure, you might have to find some times during the day to squeeze in a cat nap or two. But even though you might not be in Kansas anymore, act like you are.
3. Water, Water, Water
Flying dehydrates you. The air you breathe at 30,000 feet is significantly drier (12%) than what you experience in your home state (anywhere from 25%-85%, or if you’re like me and call Central Florida home, more like 150%). Dehydration can lead to fatigue, irritability, confusion, and low blood pressure. Not the best way to present your event proposal to a new client. So skip the booze and reach for the H2O.
4. To Melatonin or Not to Melatonin?
Here’s the skinny. Melatonin (the hormone) is produced in reaction to light entering your eyes. The less light, the more melatonin your body produces as it readies itself for sleep (following your circadian rhythms). When flying across time zones, you’re essentially disrupting this natural rhythm and hormone production.
Enter Melatonin (the supplement). Studies have shown it to have some short term benefits in helping to combat jet lag. It produces more of the natural hormone, suggesting to your body that sleep is nigh. Particularly if flying east, proponents suggest taking it just prior to bedtime in the new time zone. As with any supplement or medication, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional first.
Event planners who travel seem to have glamorous jobs, right? Especially if you follow them on Instagram. Trekking across the globe, producing events in fantastic, beautiful locations. But the struggles of frequent travel are real. Jet lag and other health risks can pose a considerable challenge to productivity, especially over the long term. Stay vigilant. Listen to and take care of your body. While you might not defeat jet lag completely, you can at least give it a good battle.
Event managers – how do you beat your jet lag when traveling? Share your hacks with us in the comments below.