11/19/2012

When I am King: Chet Lag

When I am King...

There will be no more jet lag.

Where is it written that we have to suffer jet lag on the return trip, when we never successfully adjusted to the current time on the other end of the trip?

Here's how my international trips usually go:

First, I always take a red-eye, because, well, it’s just so damn fun missing a night’s sleep. I am never able to sleep on this long flight because, for some odd reason, I find it impossible to sleep in a room with 300 strangers. It's like the world's biggest youth hostel, except with a less comfortable bed and people that are much older and crankier. I do attempt sleep, which usually includes having several glasses of whatever booze they're serving. This tends to make me tired, but never enough to actually sleep. Instead, it just serves to make me both drunk and hungover in time for breakfast.

I land in the morning and spend the day wandering around my destination city in a daze, wanting to nap but knowing that it'll just screw with my internal clock even more. So I stumble around through the day, trying not to get run over or mugged, until I can finally topple into bed, at which point I actually get a solid night's sleep, wake up feeling good, and assume that I must be adjusted to the new time zone.

What an idiot. Every time I travel I have this same experience, and every time I fall for it.

The next night, I once again fall into bed completely exhausted at some reasonably early time and proceed to lie there for something like 47 hours with nary a wink of sleep until one minute before my alarm goes off and it's time to start the day.

This routine continues off and on for the next few nights, where I get roughly two hours of sleep per night. Finally, by the end of a week, I manage to get one normal night of sleep and assume, again, that I have finally adjusted.

What an idiot.

The night before I return, my body goes into travel mode and I'm back to two hours of sleep that night.

I then board a plane that flies back home, during which I once again fail to get any sleep, although I do consume enough alcohol after the airplane breakfast to be drunk by lunchtime and hungover by the time we land.

I stumble home in a haze, buzzing with fatigue and glad to be back in the time zone that my body refused to leave, and eventually fall into bed that night and catch a decent night's sleep, at which point I declare myself done with jet lag.

What an idiot.

The second night home, I crumble into bed in the evening only to have my eyes pop open four hours later, ready to go because my body has decided that it really does want to be in that other time zone, after all.

So I spend the next week at home re-adjusting to the time zone that I never seem to have left until I got home. Meanwhile, I have more waking time than I usually do, since I'm up for most of every night and unable to take naps during the day. This could be a very productive time for me, except for the part where my brains feel like they've just finished an encounter with zombies. So it's all I can do to remember my password and log onto my computer to listlessly browse the web and social network sites looking for mind-numbing content to get me through each day.

When I am King, there will be no more jet lag because the entire world will share a single time zone. No longer will we have to adjust to different times because we will all share the same clock. If you fly for twelve hours, it'll be twelve hours later when you arrive, which seems pretty reasonable to me.

Of course, this could cause problems with the mismatch between daylight and time. We’re still working on that part. I believe it’s solvable, but my mind is so fuzzed by jetlag that I can’t really think through it right now.
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