Travelling can often be a regular part of work as a clinical research associate. Visiting new places can be fun and exciting but travelling across time zones can affect the body’s Circadian rhythm. A disrupted body clock can put a halt on having fun as well as on work productivity because of jet lag. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a way to avoid this and make the most of any journey.
Before Setting Out
Avoiding jetlag can be done as early as a few days before the scheduled trip. This can be done by slowly adjusting the body’s Circadian rhythm through light exposure. By exposing the body to light at day it can cause a person to wake up earlier. On the other hand, light exposure at night will result in waking up later.
Calculate the time difference between your location and destination. If you are travelling to a place that is in an earlier time zone then try delaying the body clock by sleeping later. For those travelling to a later time zone, advance the body clock by waking up earlier. Slowly adjusting the body by a few hours before or after the usual bed time will help it adjust better in a different time zone.
Before setting off, do take time to adjust your time to that of your destination. This will help you gauge what time it actually is so you can plan your sleep on the plane accordingly. It may also be a good idea to book your flight in such a way that you arrive during day time if possible. Often, jet lag keeps people up and by staying awake during the day it will be easier to fall asleep when night comes.
Though not many people think about it, choosing the right drink while in the airplane is important. Do stay away from caffeinated drinks that tend to keep the system awake and may disrupt your sleeping hours. Alcoholic beverages are also not a good idea since these can dehydrate the body and make you feel tired, affecting your condition upon arrival.
At the Destination
Once you get to your destination, you can also help your body adjust through the meals that you take. Try and eat your meals according to the right times. If you arrive in the afternoon, simply take a snack and save the big meal for dinner. The same goes for other major meals. This will help the body set its clock to the new time zone.
Lastly, try and get the right amount of sleep as you normally would in a day. Tempting as it may be to sleep more or less than usual, try to stay within your usual sleeping hours. When you sleep more or less than you normally should the body clock gets disrupted as well. If it is necessary to get more rest, try and do so in the day with a short nap.