When I recently traveled from Prince Edward Island to Istanbul then Iran, returning to Toronto, San Francisco, and finally Phoenix, I experienced significant jet lag. I also noticed swelling in my legs and my energy was much lower.
This surprised me, because I have traveled around the world many times before. But this time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It happened because I did not follow a standard ritual and my friend’s advice.
You see, every animal (and plant) is governed by the earth’s daily rotation which affects us at a sub-cellular level. Animals that have been able to attune their daily rituals, sleeping, eating, hunting, working, reproduction, and hibernation to the earth’s cycles, have survived the longest and progressed the most.
If you follow the sun’s patterns, go to bed when the sun goes down, and get up when the suns comes up, you will live a more healthy and balanced life. People become more productive and stay healthier when their natural pattern is in alignment with the rhythm of the earth’s rotation.
This has led to what we know as our circadian rhythm (meaning “daily rhythm”). When your physiological rhythm is out of sync there are implications to your health, (including obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart problems and mood disorders). Jet lag is a classic example of circadian misalignment.
The internal workings of the human body adhere to circadian rhythms, which coordinate the activity of the body’s organ systems. The good news is we can regulate these rhythms to maintain good health.
The bad news, it is hard, because we are living in an age of circadian dysfunction. Modern routines, global travel, and technologies cause our natural rhythms to clash. Some we can manage, such as eliminating artificial light at night, which confuses the body, putting our health at risk.
Other ideas include: Dim lights a couple of hours before going to bed; keep your bedroom completely dark; go to bed and get up at relatively the same time every day, including weekends; eat your biggest meals early in the day; do not exercise at night; decrease night-time exposure to laptops, cellphones and other (blue light) devices.
Because I travel regularly, there is a ritual which I learned from my friend Brian Tracy, It is guaranteed to minimize the effects of jet lag if followed correctly. So, for anyone who travels extensively, keep this little guide handy, it is amazing how much better you will feel:
- As soon as possible, remove your shoes. Walking on bare feet will help the body sense the change in rhythm of the earth’s rotation.
- Before going to bed, take a bath (five minutes for each time zone) in water as hot as you can possibly endure.
- Do not consume high amounts of alcohol during the flight.
- Drink water constantly throughout the trip.
- A day or two before the trip, start adjusting to the upcoming time zone.
- Drink caffeinated coffee first thing after waking up the first day.
Unfortunately, because of my accommodations and situation this time I was not able to follow this ritual and I was significantly affected.
My question for managers this week: “Do you provide your staff with the time and flexibility when traveling on business to adjust to their new time zone to ensure better health and productivity?”
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