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A to Z Challenge: J is for Jetlag

By Saturday, April 11, 2015

This post originally appeared as part of the A to Z Challenge, and was called 'J is for Jetlag."

Somehow, I always manage to forget or overlook jet lag until I'm at my destination feeling hungover from lack of sleep and dehydration. When it comes to not getting my beauty sleep, I am a complete wuss.

I find it the hardest when it's just a few hours, more than one or two, but fewer than 6. It feels like a major adjustment without resetting your body clock completely, like a 11 or 12 hour time difference would. Not to mention that the whole airport and airplane ordeal can be exhausting on it's own.

I also suspect it's getting worse as I get older.

I've heard it can take up to two weeks to get fully adjusted, but I'm often coming home before that. WebMd says it takes a day for each time zone you crossed, but when I was in India (four and a half hours time difference) I never got used to it, despite being there for two weeks.

So what's a traveler to do?

  • First, the most often cited: sunlight. Nothing will reset your internal clock like being exposed to sunlight, sun rise and sunset. This doesn't work so well if you're traveling somewhere cloudy though, or are stuck inside all day.

  • If you're going far enough to get serious jet lag, there's a good chance you'll have had one really bad night of sleep. try to use this to your advantage. Maybe you'll be so exhausted from not sleeping the night before you'll fall asleep that night even though it feels like 3pm back home.

  • Exercise in the morning once you arrive to boost your energy.

  • My husband also suggests waking up the day you fly as if already at your destination.

  • The other area I notice jet lag affecting me is when I get hungry. Meal times as well as bed time have been moved forwards or shifted back, and I've found myself absolutely ravenous at say, 4pm because dinner was supposed to start half an hour ago. 

  • When I had my interview for my current job, the plan was I'd fly Saturday evening, arrive in Hamburg Sunday around noon, interview Monday and fly back Tuesday morning. Friends suggested I take melatonin supplements to help me sleep on the flight, grow accustomed to German time quickly, and be fresh for my interview.

    Of course, I misplaced the melatonin so I can't actually attest to it's effectiveness. Even after moving out of the apartment a few months later I never found it.

  • If you're not going for long you may consider staying on home time- especially if you're in town for a short interview or function rather than a day of sightseeing and a night of entertainment. For example, when I had that interview I'd just flown in from the East Coast US, so a 2pm interview felt like 8am to me - maybe not the perfect time, but still quite reasonable.
How do you get over jet lag? have you ever tried melatonin?

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2 comments

  1. I wait it out. I can sleep and nap everywhere - except on planes. Not even in business class on a 9-hour flight, where I could stretch out completely. We have a blue light which we use every morning, which may or may not be effective. It does no harm. I would not take pills, but that's just me. Going to the US is easy for me - I go to bed early and get up early. Coming home to German is harder because I just want to sleep all the time.

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  2. I really like the idea of starting the day you fly at your new time. We always go straight to the new time when we arrive. Now that we live in New Zealand, we often have really long flights as it's 12+ hours to the US or 24 hours to the UK. We get jet lag.

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