Jet lag going from Vietnam to California is usually worse than the return trip. In California, Stephen would fall asleep in the early evening, wake up at around 2 a.m. to eat and play for a couple of hours, fall back to sleep and wake up for the day around 6:30 a.m. It took him about a week to get over jet lag there. In contrast, he is almost completely over jet lag after only two days back in Asia.
I’d heard before that jet leg is worse when traveling eastward, but I never knew why. Here’s some info I found about jet lag:
- Traveling eastward, which shortens your day and causes you to “lose time”, is more difficult than flying westward, which lengthens it and allows you to “gain time”. (Still doesn’t really explain why one direction causes more trouble than the other.)
- West-to-east trips require one day of recovery for each time zone crossed; east-to-west journeys require one day for each one and a half time zones crossed. (That would be 9 time zones crossed to California = 9 days recovery going eastward, 6 days recovery westward.)
- Symptoms include insomnia, irritability, and altered bowel habits (I experience this and didn’t know it was part of jet lag!).
- Medical treatment involves the use of sleeping tablets, melatonin and stimulants. (Never tried any of these before.) New recommendations indicate jet lag can be treated with short spells of bright light.
And some advice for adjusting that don’t really work that well with small children:
- Take a short nap on arrival and then go to bed at night. (Depends on what time you arrive, I suppose.)
- Try to keep the day on arrival free to rest if you are crossing more than six time zones. (Ha! Fat chance. Wasting so much time in transit means less time to get stuff done upon arrival.)
- For the first three days do most of your activities in the morning if you have travelled from east to west, and in the afternoons if you have flown from west to east. (With Stephen, morning is always best.)
- Try not to use sleeping pills, but if you need to, use them only on the first two or three nights and them stop taking them so you do not get addicted. (Jet lag hasn’t been serious enough for me to take sleeping pills. Perhaps an antihistamine like Benadryl would work as well and be less addictive?)
- Taking a long-acting sleeping pill may be better for travellers following west-bound flights because of problems with early-morning waking after those flights. (We’ve been waking at 5 a.m.!)
I’ve also read that men experience more severe jet lag than women. That seems to be true with Marv and me. The poor guy also had fewer days to spend in California which made it all the harder for him to get adjusted.
Another theory suggests that jet lag is not as bad when returning to the “habitual” time zone. This could be true but I can’t remember if I used to be more fatigued when travelling to Asia from the U.S. on holidays to visit Marv. What I do remember is the depression of having to be separated from him again which probably exacerbated my symptoms of jet lag.
What has been your experience with jet lag?
Refs: University of Michigan Health System and Medic8 Family Health Guide
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