My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Time Zone Trauma

One of the biggest challenges for travelers is coping with changes in time zone. Forget culture shock and climate change, time zones can really do you in! I have been experiencing a bit of this the past couple of days as I try to adjust from Pacific time to Eastern time. While traveling from the west coast to the east coast might not elicit such horrors stories as, say, a flight across the Atlantic, it can still kick your butt in its own way. Especially if you’ve been sleeping in a lot on the west coast….

Anyway, so what can you do to minimize the disruptive effects of jet lag? There are, of course, a number of chemical/herbal remedies out there, ranging from the use of melatonin (which could be useful if you need to go to sleep earlier than your circadian rhythm prescribes) to low doses of… Viagra… (Yes, you read that right, and I’m NOT suggesting it’s a good idea)! I believe, however, that one of the best ways to adjust yourself to the new time is to make sure you get a full night’s sleep on the first night immediately after traveling and then fully adopt the local time, embrace it, live it. In a few days you’ll feel invincible. And then, of course, it will be time for the return trip…

Back to my own story. I am currently unemployed and, as such, am running my own schedule (disaster, right?). Because I have a really long circadian rhythm (at least we hope it’s that and not just my inability to exercise self-control), my natural sleep time falls later and later each day. Therefore, when I am left to my own devices I tend to go to bed and get up a little later each day. It’s frustrating, but consistent. I guess if I just kept going, eventually I’d be back in sync with the rest of the world… In short, a week ago I was going to bed no earlier than 2am and getting up…. well, let’s just say that by the time I got up there weren’t many hours of daylight left. I found out that I had a one-day job assignment on Friday, so I took measures to begin preparing myself for my mandatory 7am waking time on that day (and I didn’t do a half-bad job), but I really wasn’t used to it by the time I flew to the east coast.

The night before flying I got about 5 hours of sleep and a couple more on the plane (which I don’t really count as restful sleep). As a result, my sleep bank had only a few pennies in it upon my arrival. I should have followed my own advice and gone to bed early that night, but my boyfriend and I had a lot to catch up on and ended up talking quite late, which meant that I slept in the next day, which meant that I needed a nap that afternoon, which meant that I wasn’t as tired as I should have been that night, which meant that I didn’t go to bed early, which meant that I slept late yesterday morning (it was 8am Pacific Time, but that doesn’t count when you’re in Eastern time!). My boyfriend goes to work early and I don’t see him until lunch, so there isn’t much of an impetus for early rising.

Point being, I messed up the very first day and (even though I was very tired) didn’t get a good night’s sleep right away, so drawing out the effects of jetlag. This morning I slept in again, some of my best sleep happening after about 8am. Sigh. It’s difficult to go to bed early when we have so many fun things planned for every day that I’m here in the area, not the least of which are all the great restaurants I’ve gotten to try in the area! But I’ll save that for another post.

January 19, 2010 - Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Lol yeah, I know how that goes. I’ve been doing that slowly but surely here…haven’t gotten much studying done during the day cause I stay up late the night before….however, I don’t sleep in, but I’m still so tired from not enough sleep that I just don’t get anything done..

    Comment by The Sister | January 19, 2010 | Reply

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