Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Bodyguards Do to Overcome Jetlag. Mindset, Awareness and Being Alert Can Be Hampered By Jetlag and Travel Fatigue

What Our Protection Specialists (Bodyguards) Do to Overcome Jetlag. 11 Tips To Overcome Jetlag and Be Your Best in the Boardroom or Being a Bodyguard.

A Tactical Mindset, Protection Awareness and Being Alert Can Be Hampered By Jetlag and Travel Fatigue. When we work long hours and travel it is easy to become jet lagged and dehydrated. Our heart rate increases, we will become fatigued, lose our ability to regulate body temperature, and lose concentration. Jet lag and dehydration usually creeps up on us gradually, without dramatic warning signs.

Here are some techniques I teach to bodyguards, agents, law enforcement and military to mitigate and manage the effects of high stress fatigue, travel and changing time zones. Some of my business clients picked up on them are use them with great success as well.

If you are a protection specialist, bodyguard, military, law enforcement or travelling professional on business, being at your best can be tough when travelling. This goes doubly for those of us who travel internationally on tight schedules and have to stay sharp.

If you have ever had to take an international flight and make a presentation in a fatigued state or feeling ill, you know the challenge I'm talking about. This is particularly tough for those of us whose livelihood or presentations can make the difference between large financial deals or lives depend on us.

Here are some travel tips I use and teach to my clients to help.

1. Time adaptation
If you can, anticipate the time change and begin to modify your sleep schedule. You can get by on adrenaline only so long. I speak from personal experience.

2. Control light exposure
Another trick to use is modify your exposure to light as it triggers chemical changes in your brain to release serotonin or melatonin as a catalyst for sleep or waking function. Avoid monitors or other media screens or sources that allow light to the eyes. This can trick the eyes and brain into preparing your body for day time activity rather than sleep.

3. Aspirin
I take an aspirin before and after the flight. Good for digestion, preventing heart problems and promote circulation. This is not only good for making the flight more comfortable but can help you avoid the risk of an embolism (blood clot). It happened to a friend of mine - hard way to learn a lesson. I've found that aspirin seems to help the body adapt. While I'm not a medical professional, it has worked well for me, team members and clients for years.

4. Yoga
Before, during and after the flight. Recently I took a group to Korea. When we got off the flight we gathered around in the airport, found an open space and did a gentle yoga session. Rather than being an embarrassing spectacle, it seemed to inspire others to do a bit of stretching as well. People are catching on and accepting of therapeutic movement. Either way, ego aside, it made a significant difference for those who did the postures, movements and breathing. Those who didn't clearly had a harder time adapting. Yoga has a very positive impact on the bodies immune function as well, an invaluable benefit for hard chargers. It has been a part of my travel routine for years. You need not put on a show, simple barely noticeable movements can help.

5. Frequent eating
Eat frequently and stick to quality foods with lots of variety. I've found that small meals are best. I prefer lots of fresh fruits and veggies and encourage lots of snacking between meals. Think in terms of providing your body with nutrition and proper fuel. In my profession, you may not always know when you will have your meals.

6. Nutritional choices
Avoid junk carbs or short chain carbohydrates from refined sources and other stimulants. Refined sugar is problematic on many levels. One trick I use is to ad a bit of waxy maze (my preference is Glycocharge by JSNITRO) to a protein shake (Nitro SIZE) and a dash of cinnamon. This contains a long chain carb that helps regulate energy levels and the cinnamon helps with regulating insulin (blood sugar) response. An apple has a similar effect for me if those aren't available.

Caffeine and other stimulants can be helpful if used properly but are often more problematic than they are worth in the long run. Stimulants are a short term fix and should be avoided. Avoiding them all together is usually the wise choice. Keep in mind that it is better to eat than to not eat in my experience, even if you have to consume less than idea foods. Everything in moderation.

7. Hydration
I try to keep water with me at all times rather than risk leaving it to circumstance. I've been to places where there is no access to water or I refused to drink the water. On details I always apply the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared" by bringing a basic comfort and care kit. This includes some simple basics, including aspirin and water so I can be self sufficient and on top of my game. If I don't have the kit, it is one of my first priorities upon arrival. I also try to include a wedge of lime or lemon to help absorb the water at a cellular level.

8. Ginger pills
On the last few Airborne jumps I had while serving in my Special Forces reserve unit, I noticed nausea setting in. I found out that I had inherited motion sickness from my father. Prior to that, I never had any symptoms. I found ginger pills worked well for me without the drowsy effects of over the counter motion sickness (active ingredient Dimenhydinate) pills. Although I have used those to sleep on flights, I prefer the ginger pills to stay sharp. You will also find ginger ale available on most flights (make sure it has actual ginger in it - some brands are no longer using actual ginger).

9. Exercise in the sun
20 minutes of aerobic activity upon arrival. My preferred activity is to do 20 minutes of aerobic activity in the sun. It helps reset my circadian rhythm and helps me feel at my best.

10. Yogic breathing
Deep belly breathing - yogic breathing (nose breathing with back-pressure) with mobility exercises on the flight. Simply flexing muscle groups, gently rotating joints, and gentle stretching help improve circulation, muscle recovery and stimulate adaptation.

11. Power naps
Power naps are something I learned from the team guys in Special Operations. Timing yourself and taking advantage of short term snoozes can really make a big difference. Cover your eyes, plug your ears if possible. I bring a headband or hat to cover my eyes and earplugs when I travel. Quality downtime is key to being alert and sharp while on duty. Resting is as important as action and activity. A massage can sometimes have a similar effect as well. My preference is Thai Massage - a facilitated yoga-like therapeutic massage.

The key is to experiment with different tips and tricks here and find what works best for you. Everyone is unique, each with our own unique bio-chemistry and personal preferences.

To you comfort, peak performance and safety,

John Nottingham, PI, EPS
Nottingham Sword & Shield Security