Looking to make travel-induced fatigue a thing of the past? It’s time to change your habits!
It comes as no surprise that people are worried about the current outbreak of Coronavirus spreading throughout the world at rapid rates, with news coverage relentlessly reminding us about the toll it is taking on human life. Although this information can be paralyzing, we must remember that this is not the first, nor the last outbreak that we will witness within our lifetimes. For those of you expected to be flying for business during these uncertain times, you MUST understand the importance of simple daily habits, as they play a significant role in the success of your business trips.
Air travel is still one of the safest ways to commute to distant destinations, which is one reason why so many of us choose to use it. While flight may be the most efficient and secure way to get from point A to point B, it rarely comes without health-related consequences.
The common term used for travel-induced fatigue is jet-lag, although some experts would argue that true jet-lag is traditionally a term used for symptoms caused by traveling through multiple time zones, which can throw off the body’s sleep-associated circadian rhythms, hormonal cycles, metabolism, and subsequent cognitive processing… But studies have also shown that something as simple as a change in one time-zone (AKA one hour) may still be enough to significantly impact your general health and wellness.
Case in point: In 2014, researchers at the University of Michigan saw a staggering 24% increase in hospital admissions for heart attacks on the Monday following “spring ahead” daylight savings time (where we lose an hour), followed by a subsequent 21% decrease in similar numbers on the Monday following “fall back” daylight savings time changes (where we gain an hour). If a change in one hour can cause such a significant impact on our health, what could a 3-4 hour change do to alter our cognitive capacity in closing a big deal on a business trip?
Although correlation does not equal causation, we must ask the question: “How does travel affect our health and our ability to make good business decisions?” More importantly, we must pose the following question: “What can I do about it?”
Here are 3 healthy travel tips to maximize your brain and body for greater success in the boardroom.
1.) Get enough sleep the night before your big meeting.
This should be a no-brainer, but I guess there’s a reason that I’m still writing about it.
Research on sleep continues to show significant health benefits of prolonged rest, ranging from the elimination of free radicals in the brain to improved energy storage, along with increased neuroplasticity and connectivity of networks within these central networks to help us consolidate memories and retrieve information on command. As you saw with the previously cited research article, sleep plays a significant role in our general health and brain functionality, but it is very sensitive to changes and has the potential to yield devastating consequences when it isn’t utilized.
For a business executive or sales individual searching for that coveted signature on the dotted line during their business trip, sleep should be your go-to activity before your sales pitch, as it will allow you to formulate your ideas and consolidate the formation of memories for better recall the following day.
Pro tip: It’s always best to go deep into your material before and leading up to the day before your meeting, followed by a quality night of rest. During your review, you should specifically focus on verbally repeating this information out loud (as you would during your pitch) to provide even greater activity in the regions of the brain you will utilize during your meeting. If you can teach it, you can own it.
2.) Move like your life depends on it (Hint: It actually does!)
As I stated in my previous article, physical exercise may be one of the easiest and most effective ways to help your brain update its software. Movement is a powerful driver of your frontal lobe, considered the “CEO of the brain”, which allows us to react to our environment, process information, and make higher-level decisions.
While movement can be a big driver of executive function and focus, it can also release a plethora of endorphins and neurotransmitters that can literally change the way we feel, creating the classic “euphoria” experienced following exercise, which will inevitably bring out a different you into the boardroom.
Movement may also be effective in helping to reset your body’s internal clock via hormonal effects of the stress response with cortisol, serotonin, and melatonin, especially when paired together with the use of appropriately timed light therapy and exogenous supplementation of melatonin.
3.) Healthy Gut = Healthy Brain = Healthy Life
As Hippocrates stated thousands of years ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, which is more true today than it was back then.
The more we dig into our gut microbiome, the more we understand how important it is for proper brain function, which has completely changed the way we look at neurodegenerative diseases. Recent research coming out of Cal Tech theorizes that Parkinson’s Disease actually starts in the gut and gradually travels to the brain via the vagus nerve, gradually affecting the brain and dopamine-producing neurons in the brainstem that are now classified as hallmark signs of Parkinson’s Disease.
Although this picture may seem grim, it does provide value in our understanding of the saying “we truly are what we eat”.
Since the gut affects the brain and the brain subsequently affects the gut, it is clear how our nutrition and healthy food choices can have a direct correlation with our cognitive processing and energy levels.
It is also worth noting that cutting calories (in general, but especially during travel) can also show significant improvements in our functionality, which can lead to decreased inflammation, extended lifespan, and delays in the onset of age-related diseases such as memory loss, heart disease, and the onset of diabetes.
In some situations, you may be better off skipping the big dinner and drinks the night before to improve your sleep, with shorter periods of intermittent fasting showing promising results of vastly decrease inflammation and improving your chances of recovery the following morning.
Knowing this information is one thing. Actually putting it into practice is another.
So if you truly want to maximize your opportunities while traveling, take some time to create healthy habits instead of short term travel tactics.
This article was originally published on The Good Men Project. Click here for the original post.