How To Focus When You’re Tired or Jet Lagged


Rest easy and accomplish more with these great tips for beating jet lag.: Photo by: RuslanDashinsky/iStock/Getty Images Plus collection/Getty Images

Whether you just got off an overnight flight or simply stayed up too late the night before, you will likely struggle with being productive at work all day.

Here are ways to get yourself going — whether you’re making a big presentation to a client, wanting to show your “A game” at the office, or just want to get back to your productive self and accomplish more as quickly as possible:

Watch the Caffeine

First, don’t overdo it on the caffeine or alcohol before you try to sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Doing so will only disrupt your natural sleep patterns later that day. Instead, keep yourself hydrated and awake with plain water — and plenty of it. (The water bar at EVEN Hotels makes for the perfect hydration station.)

Get Back into Your Exercise Routine

Try to perk up with exercise, says Dr. Nitun Verma, a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a board-certified sleep physician for the Crossover Health Medical Centers in New York and California. “Go for a walk an hour before a critical meeting,” he advises. If you’re in New York City for a presentation, for example, stroll around the neighborhood near your hotel or office space. “Find an exciting place to explore to combat sleepiness,” he says.

Re-Set Your Body Clock

Jet lag happens when you travel into different time zones, but your body and its sleep- and wake-patterns still feel like they’re in the original time zone. To minimize weariness, Verma suggests trying this tactic during the first few days. Try to be outside when it’s bedtime in the time zone where you started your trip to help your reset your internal clock.

Use Techniques for East, West Travel

Jet lag can have a profound affect on performance. Research on baseball players found that “teams flying between New York City and the West Coast were affected more by travel than having a home field advantage,” Verma says.

To combat the effects of jet lag and to help you feel more focused and less fatigued, if you’re flying east, “Dim your phone and computer screens two to four hours before bedtime, and make sure your lights are very bright in the morning — this will help you fall asleep in your new time zone,” he says.

Similarly, if you’re flying west, “Keep your room lights dim for three to four hours after waking and keep the lights bright in the late afternoon and early evening,” he advises.

Don’t Let On You’re Tired

If you’re already exhausted, but need to look and sound alert for work, keep it to yourself, says Brad Phillips, president of Phillips Media Relations and the author of The Media Training Bible.

Having missed his fair share of flight connections, Phillips knows what it’s like to have to show your “A-game,” even on just four hours of sleep and a few sips of coffee. His tips include eating protein-rich foods and taking a power nap, as well as putting on your best face for an audience at a conference or your coworkers at a presentation.

“They showed up to get value from you — and your announcement that you might not do a great job tends to deflate the room,” he says.

Keep Your Wits About You

If something goes wrong during your presentation due to fatigue, maintain your sense of humor.

“If you make a mistake, laugh at yourself instead of getting caught up in your lack of perfection,” Phillip says. “Most audiences are more interested in making a genuine connection with the speaker than witnessing ‘the perfect speech.'”

If you go blank, ask the audience to assist. “You can say something such as, ‘I was so excited about that topic that I forgot where I was,'” he says.

 

About the Author

Cheryl AlkonCheryl Alkon is a Massachusetts-based writer, researcher and editor, and the author of Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.