Oh that Jet Lag!

After 15 hours of air travel, I still had a long way to go. Coming up was a five hour layover followed by a five hour flight home. This journey could not have felt longer. If some one had told me that the effects of the journey would actually take ten days to wear off, I would not have believed them. By the time we landed, I was feeling great. It was a work morning so I went to work. I had no problem getting through the day, which surprised some of my co-workers. Jet lag is for the weak, I thought to myself. After a great day at work, I made it home. Somehow my body must have used all its reserve energy because when I got home that evening, I could not keep my eyes open at all. I passed out around 7 pm. The best part though was that I was up bright and early, a little before 4 am. This went on for the next ten days.

Travelers say that jet lag is usually worse when you travel east but traveling west can be hard too. The last time I traveled west, it took me almost two weeks to recover, which was more than the time it took me to recover when I flew east. It might have to do with the travel route or the fact that you end up just sitting and eating for however long the flight takes. As your body mass is transferred over several time zones, it loses its ability to prepare for reality when you finally land. Maybe it’s from all the adrenaline rush when you pray for that turbulence to stop and pray against plane crashes. Or maybe it’s the many pressure changes that clog your ears. I think there are too many reasons to justify jet lag but sometimes knowing the cause does not quite help with the cure.

When I couldn’t fight the uncontrolled sleep schedule anymore, I decided to give in and planned my days around it. Just as I was getting used to this schedule, it was the eleventh morning. I felt as though the jet lag was part of a completely different life – I was back and it was hard to wake up early again.

I’ve had a few more episodes of lengthy travel and jet lags. Each of those were slightly different from the other. It taught me to blame a lot of my goof ups on this sleep disorder so after a while I didn’t mind it as much.

I guess you never really get used to it the more you travel but it is possible to develop coping strategies.

Using my early mornings to swim and workout was a great start to the day. It energized me for the mornings. Jet lag usually started working its magic by the afternoon so I started using my lunch breaks to go on short walks. Typically frequent boosts of energy helps get through jet lagged days. Sugar and caffeine in the afternoon significantly helped contain my drooling brain.

Some claim that eating and drinking healthy helps, taking short afternoon naps is energizing, and taking another vacation to recover helps too. All great ideas but I doubt that it applies to people with normal work schedules.

So here are some words of advice to new travelers: Jet lag is not just for amateurs. It gets us all. Accept the fact that it takes a few days to recover and plan around it. For when it is done teasing you, it will find another victim and you will live to tell the tale.

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