Travel nourishes the soul, but it can also corrupt our health.
Those of us who frequently travel long-haul are all too aware of the detrimental health impacts crossing multiple time zones can have on our minds and bodies.
Jetlag makes us fatigued, gives us brain fog and can result in disrupted sleep patterns, all of which deter from the enjoyment of discovering a new place. Whether we are travelling for business or pleasure, alone or with family, having a sharp mind and energised body is paramount to getting the most from your travels.
And with the peak business and holiday season upon us, Corinthia Hotel London’s Neuroscientist in Residence, Dr Tara Swart, has shared her expert advice on how to beat dreaded jet lag.
“Taking a holiday is good for the brain,” says Dr Swart. “It gives us the opportunity to rest and recalibrate and go on a digital detox from our smartphones, laptops and tablets.
“However, the effect of long-haul flying on the brain can be extremely disruptive. Research carried out by the University of California, Berkeley shows that acute disruption of circadian rhythms (our biological clock), causes memory and learning problems and long-term changes in brain anatomy, long after travellers have returned to their regular schedule.”
In a three-phase approach – pre-trip, in-flight, and on arrival – here are Tara’s top 10 tips to beat jet lag:
- 1. Shift your internal rhythms before you fly. Depending on whether you are flying east or west, exposure to additional light in the morning or afternoon a number of days before departure will help the body make the necessary adjustments
- 2. Only use prescribed sleeping tablets for a maximum of two days either side of a trip that involves more than a four-hour time difference.
- 3. Fasting until breakfast time in the new time zone will help ‘un-stick’ and re-anchor the body’s rhythms.
- 4. Drink at least 500ml of still water for every 15kg of body weight. This will help to limit the particularly dehydrating effects of high altitude.
- 5. Try and do some aerobic exercise once you arrive – this will help wake up the body and boost mental performance
6. Expose yourself to as much daylight as possible during the day.
7. Adjust your sleep routine to the local time zone as quickly as possible by choosing optimal travel times. Allow your eyes to observe the transition from light to dark after arrival. Our internal body clock is controlled by the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which is released by the pineal gland into our bloodstream when it gets dark.
- 8. Avoid alcohol before bed as it does not induce a natural sleep that allows your body to recover.
- 9. Avoid drinking coffee after 2pm to mitigate its impact on the quality of your sleep.
- 10. Limit your use of blue light-emitting devices, like smartphones, an hour or so before bed; they trick the pineal gland into thinking it is daytime and so inhibit melatonin production.
Dr Tara Swart joined up with Corinthia Hotel London last year to become the hotel’s very own neuroscientist in residence, the first partnership of its kind for any hotel group. As part of the year-long residency, Tara is giving talks at the hotel to teach guests how to attain optimal brain function and get a competitive edge. She is also researching the mental resilience of people across various business sectors, including hotel staff, which will generate a Brain Power Study to be published this year.
BusinessClass recently stayed at the lavish Corinthia Hotel London. Read our review here.