Business trips across the pond or on the other side of the globe come with many perks. You get to see new places, immerse yourself in different cultures, and meet many people with whom you otherwise would never have crossed paths. Yet too often, it can come with some downsides. One of the main challenges that international business travelers face is with their health.
Your routine is frequently disrupted, which can make it tough to maintain healthy habits like exercise, taking your medications on time, and cooking for yourself. One aspect of health that can be particularly troublesome for international travelers is sleep. When you’re hopping across time zones, all bets are off. But remember, sleep is one of the most important aspects of health.
Why is Sleep Important?
According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, sleep is important for your physical health, your mental and emotional health, and your safety.
Sleep helps your body function properly, so how well you sleep at night dictates how well you feel when you’re awake. Long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to many chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. Sleep is integral to your immune system, so it is especially important as you are traveling and being exposed to many different germs that you get adequate sleep to help your body fight off illness.
At rest, your brain helps you process what you learned through the day, so it’s especially important when you’re meeting new people, gathering important information, and exploring a new place that you get plenty of sleep so you can perform at your best. Not only that, when you get less sleep, you have less control over your emotional regulation, which can make it difficult to manage all of your business relationships during your trip. Think of episodes of “The Office.”
The cognitive effects of sleep deprivation can also be detrimental to your safety. When you aren’t getting adequate sleep, you can’t function properly. Sleepiness has caused many accidents, particularly car accidents, so for the sake of your safety and the safety of those around you, it’s imperative you get adequate sleep, eight hours is the benchmark.
Tips for Getting Enough Sleep While Traveling
It’s easy to get caught up in everything you have to do on your trip and not make time for yourself as a result. When you book your travel arrangements, be thoughtful about how your sleep will fit into your schedule. For example, if you need to take a red eye, make sure you are able to sleep on the plane. Put on sunglasses and use headphones with the sound off. If you have early meetings over the course of your trip, make sure to prioritize getting to bed early.
Create a Bedtime Routine
If you don’t already have one, now is the time to start with a bedtime routine. Make sure it’s one that you can take on the road with you. For example, you might have a sleep meditation that you do nightly or a ritual you do, such as reading before you go to bed. It helps to create a calming environment in your hotel room that will remind your body that it is time to go to sleep. You might take a bath or try some aromatherapy. If you have a routine in place, it will be a lot easier for you to fall asleep anywhere you are.
Yoga can be a great tool for promoting calm and relaxation before you go to bed. One pose that may help you is to lie down with your legs up against the wall while taking deep breaths. You might also try a whole bedtime yoga routine; there are many to be found on YouTube.
When traveling abroad, access to reliable, secure WiFi is a great stress reliever. Wi-Fi at airports requires a new log-on and times out after 10 minutes. Free sites like these are unsecured, have weak signals and are targets for identity theft. Your mobile phone begins racking up outrageous roaming charges. You don’t know until you get your monthly bill. Some countries require purchase of a SIM card from an obscure carrier for any service at all. You will lose sleep just thinking about that.
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