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A traveler’s guide to beating jetlag

Big BenJet lag is a disruption of your internal body clock, caused by crossing several time zones. Symptoms can include not just fatigue or sleepiness but headaches, irritability, anxiety, and even diarrhea and sweating. Here are some tips on how travelers minimize or even prevent jetlag.

First of all, prepare your body. Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration (which can trigger headaches and become exacerbated if you develop diarrhea).

Second, slowly adjust your body clock, like sleeping an hour earlier or later—depending on your destination—so that you don’t have to go through such an extreme shift.

Once you arrive at the new country, adapt to the new routine. It may be a Coffeestruggle to stay awake in the morning, and your first instinct may be to drink lots of coffee. But too much caffeine will only aggravate anxiety and dehydration, and disrupt your sleep cycle. Take only small amounts of coffee or caffeinated beverages, and just try to keep yourself busy to keep sleepiness at bay. If you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, get a massage or take a long hot bath to help you relax and eventually go to sleep.

If you are traveling on business and need to schedule meetings or presentations, find a time (like late afternoon or late morning) where your body would be naturally awake and alert. Holding the meetings in a bright, sunny place can also help you adjust your body clock.

It can also be challenging to adjust to new schedules for meals. Instead of having three heavy meals, try taking smaller but more frequent snacks. This Light Mealcan also prevent drowsiness, as a very big lunch will only make you feel even sleepier.

You also need to be realistic. Give yourself time to adjust to jetlag, Don’t schedule a very important meeting the first hour you step off the plane. But what if you are on a very hectic business trip and have no control over your schedule? If that is the case, do your work in advance. Make a good presentation and prepare cue cards or materials, so you can still give good information even if you are not quite feeling your best. If you are a tourist, or are taking a recreational trip, then create a realistic itinerary. Use your first day to explore areas near the hotel, or any activity that is not that physically taxing.

Zachary Greene is an entrepreneur who takes frequent business trips to Asia. Aside from learning how to deal with jetlag, he has also written several articles on networking and working with international suppliers, such as learning the language (for example, he has even started to study Thai).

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