Maybe you love business trips. They are an opportunity to get out of the comfort zone of your city and see something new, as well as a great opportunity to advance your business goals and to grow your client base or expose your venture. Maybe you are part of the group that has to travel all the time or doesn’t enjoy the long hours, the hotel stays, the lack of a home cooked meal, or the demanding schedule of traveling outside of your comfort zone. Whatever group you might be part of, the fact that business trips put a strain on your much needed sleep schedule is obvious. In an effort to help business owners and entrepreneurs protect their business from sleep deprivation, it’s important to know how business trips affect your waking schedule and how you can avoid them cutting into your rest schedule and the success of your business.
The Sleep Cycle On Business Trips
Keeping a constant sleep schedule is extremely important to personal health. A sleepy worker is more likely to underperform, which can affect the way that you do business. Sleep deprivation has been a contributing factor in several major disasters, including the Exxon Valdez Oil spill and the Challenger Space Shuttle Accident. For frequent fliers in business, racking up the miles might mean a lot less sleep. Business fliers often underperform due to sleep deprivation, even though they are more likely to perceive their performance as better than it actually was. You are more likely to fall asleep during critical meetings and presentations while sleep deprived on a business trip. On average, by the conclusion of a business trip, you might have lost up to 8 hours of shuteye or a whole night of sleep by the time that you return home. For such a critical time for workers, that’s a lot of rest lost that translates to performance issues.
Reasons For Lost Sleep On Business Trips
Unlike the sleep deprivation culture that’s pervasive in the office space at home, business trips put unique pressures on a productive work schedule. There are several things that contribute to this specific loss of sleep. These can include:
Stress – First and foremost, stress is one of the biggest contributors to loss of sleep among productive workers. When we travel for business, the pressure builds, often causing more stress and making it more difficult for workers to rest.
Time Zone Shift – Anytime that workers travel across time zone lines, they are going to be losing time in the internal clock that they operate on. This might not affect you as much if you are just traveling one time zone away, although for states like Arizona, there can be daylight savings time changes that drastically adjust one’s schedule. If you are traveling from the west to the east coast, your schedule could be thrown off as much as 3 hours. This can affect how and when you sleep as well as when you wake for your day.
Scheduling Demands – When we travel for business, we are also more likely to suffer sleep loss due to the scheduling pressure on such trips. You are more likely to lose sleep the night before a trip while you prepare to leave, often being the shortest amount of sleep that you get the whole trip. Scheduling and time management are important and challenging parts of an entrepreneurs day. On business trips, scheduling can cost you critical slumber that you need to perform.
In Transit – Traveling can be difficult, even if you do it all the time. There are things that you can control and things you can’t, which contribute to stress which again contributes to lost sleep. Things like missed connections and delayed or cancelled flights are going to increase stress and could contribute to sleep deprivation. In flight, you could experience turbulence, noisy neighbors if you’re trying to catch up mid-flight, or discomfort that comes from flying. And when you land, the Jet Lag can be a killer for business productivity. All of these can contribute to a huge amount of lost sleep and performance.
On The Road LifeStyle – Travel lifestyle can be hard and workers can often get caught up in lifestyle choices that make sleep difficult. It could be simply not allowing your body the necessary time to relax before bed, burning the candle at both ends in order to try to achieve maximum efficiency. Many workers don’t get the most healthy diet when on a trip, choosing quick overproduced meals or late night meals that make it harder to get quality sleep. With that, while at least 60% of workers do report keeping up with exercise while on business trips, many people forget to keep their health up through consistent exercise and diet. And more workers might overdo it with the happy hour cocktails after a big presentation, which will definitely cause a sleep scarcity.
While these aren’t the only reasons why top performing business professionals might lose some productivity, they tend to be the most common. The goal then should become figuring out what might cause you to lose sleep on a business trip and working to avoid it.
Preventing Sleep Loss On Critical Business Trips
Some of the tactics that you can try for quality sleep on business trips are similar to the tips that experts suggest for workers in their home workplace to succeed, like avoiding caffeine or taking the opportunity to nap. However, there are a few unique tips that business travelers can incorporate for success:
- Create a sleep kit – If you travel a lot, you should create a sleep kit so you have all the supplies for a healthy night of rest or quality naps on the plane. Include things like eye covers, ear plugs, and melatonin. Download soothing music on your phone to help you fall asleep.
- Diet & exercise – Your body needs to maintain function with a good diet and plenty of exercise to keep a good sleep schedule. Make sure to make room for exercise and skip out on the unhealthy meals as much as possible. Get out and take a walk to a unique restaurant for dinner, rather than stay in and order delivery.
- Maintain quality sleeping and waking environments – Try to stay consistent with sleep in a slightly cooler, dark, quiet room to get quality rest.However, when you are awake, let the sun in and make a point out of staying as active as possible in presentations. This will keep you from falling asleep when it counts the most.
- Shut off the screens – It can be tempting to stay up late to chat on skype, send emails, or surf the web when you travel for business, a time when many people report feeling very lonely. However, that blue light will cut into your sleep schedule that’s already suffering. Stow the devices to save some sleep.
- Watch what you drink – Lack of sleep, recycled airplane air, different altitudes and other contributors can all lead to dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water. On that note, try to limit your caffeine intake to avoid a crash. And be very cautious with alcohol use, as it may make you sleep less.
- Let the stress go – Stress is hard to banish. Simply stating that you should try to stress less on business trips sounds redundant, but that stress might rob you of necessary sleep. Relax before sleep, meditate, do yoga, or do something to help you calm down.
Business trips are part of our global business culture and many entrepreneurs have to travel at least a bit to make their business goals happen. If you are one of the lucky business owners that never has to leave your city more than once every few years, then you might not be losing much sleep to travel. But for those that have to travel all the time, you need to safeguard your sleep as a necessary building block for your success.
HJR Global helps business owners and entrepreneurs succeed. We work with business owners, offering insights and advice for success, as well as resources for planning, management, and growth. HJR Global also helps entrepreneurs and business owners find financing options for whatever they may need for their business to thrive. If you are interested in consultation or information from an HJR Global representative, contact us here today.