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Conquering Jet Lag: Optimizing Sleep for Global Teams

Do you suffer from jetlag after flying? Here are some proven techniques to help you overcome your tiredness after travelling through time zones.



In today's interconnected world, many workers collaborate with teams in different regions and time zones, leading to the challenge of jet lag. This disruption to the body's circadian rhythm can significantly affect workers' health, productivity, and overall well-being. As a sleep expert, I will explore the causes of jet lag in global teams and present evidence-based strategies to empower workers to overcome these challenges and maintain peak performance.



Understanding Jet Lag in Global Teams:


Workers in global teams often face irregular work hours, late-night conference calls, and unpredictable travel schedules. These factors disrupt their body's natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to jet lag symptoms. The misalignment of the circadian rhythm and the external environment can result in sleep disturbances, fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and impaired decision-making abilities (Conlon et al., 2021).


Strategies to Overcome Jet Lag in Global Teams:


1. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule:


Encourage team members to follow a regular sleep schedule, even when travelling or in different time zones. Consistency in sleep and wake times helps the body's internal clock adjust more smoothly (Rångtell et al., 2016).




2. Prioritize Sleep Hygiene:


Promote good sleep hygiene practices, such as creating a comfortable sleep environment, limiting screen time before bed, and avoiding caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2020). These practices enhance the quality and duration of sleep.



3. Plan Smart Travel:


When possible, plan business travel in a way that allows for gradual time zone adjustments. Arriving at the destination a day or two before important meetings can enable workers to acclimate to the new time zone (Reilly et al., 2022).



4. Utilize Short Naps Strategically:


Short naps of 20-30 minutes can boost alertness and productivity without causing sleep inertia or disrupting nighttime sleep (Tietzel and Lack, 2002). Encourage team members to use naps strategically, especially during extended work hours.



5. Virtual Meetings and Flexibility:


Explore virtual meetings to minimize the need for frequent long-distance travel. Encouraging flexible work arrangements, when possible, can also help workers manage their sleep and work schedules more effectively.


Conclusion:


For workers in global teams, managing jet lag is essential for maintaining optimal performance and well-being. Workers can overcome jet lag's challenges by implementing evidence-based strategies such as consistent sleep schedules, good sleep hygiene, smart travel planning, strategic napping, and embracing virtual collaboration. Empowering employees to prioritize sleep and adopt healthy sleep practices will ultimately lead to improved productivity, reduced risks of burnout, and a more harmonious work-life balance.


By María Fernanda Latorre - Project Manager and Guest Author for Recruiters Give Back and Successful Consultants Limited



References:


Conlon, E. G., van der Heijden, K. B., Feehan, J., & Culnan, E. (2021). Jet Lag and Sleep Quality in Professional Formula One Drivers: A Longitudinal Observational Study. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, 92(6), 469-476.

Rångtell, F. H., Ekstrand, E. M., Rapp, L., Lagermalm, A., Liethof, L., Búcaro, M. O., ... & Cedernaes, J. (2016). Two hours of the evening reading on a self-luminous tablet vs reading a physical book does not alter sleep after daytime bright light exposure. Sleep Medicine, 23, 111-118.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2020). Healthy Sleep Habits. https://aasm.org/resources/factsheets/sleephygiene.pdf

Reilly, T., Atkinson, G., Budgett, R., & Gregson, W. (2022). Jet lag, sleep and performance in elite athletes. Sleep Medicine, 72, 74-80.

Tietzel, A. J., & Lack, L. C. (2002). The short-term benefits of brief and long naps following nocturnal sleep restriction. Sleep, 25(3), 293-300.

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