How to adjust to a new time zone

I have traveled across different time zones a bunch of times before, but this is the first time when it’s been extremely difficult to adjust to the time change. It’s been hard. One day I woke up when it was almost time for dinner! My biological clock is not having it. About 16 days today and just this past weekend is when my jet-lagged body finally felt like, OK, so this is what going to bed at a decent time feels like! It hasn’t been an easy transition.

Young businessman standing over a young businesswoman sleeping on a couch

A few factors might’ve interfered with my sleep pattern even before I got here, and so intensified the problem. The last two weeks of 2012 (it sounds so far now!), the holidays. It was a very joyful—and stressful—one. To name just one of the contributors: my huge family. This year more than ever there seemed to be a birthday celebration every weekend…for the entire duration of the year. It was crazy and exhausting. Alright; it was fun, too!

Once in Spain, my usual routine of adjustment wasn’t working, so I searched for ways to beat jet lag—which happens when we travel quickly through several time zones, messing up our internal biological clock. There are some helpful tips out there. I know some of them have worked for me in the past. Websites like WebMD and Wikipedia suggest to…

• Gradually adjust to the destination’s time zone ahead of your flight
• Select a flight that arrives at your destination in the evening
• Set your watch to the destination time prior to arrival
• Time your nap, if taking any, so that you don’t sleep through the whole flight
• Try to stay awake until at least 10pm when you reach your destination
• Avoid caffeine
• Get plenty of sunshine the next day (if you can) as it helps reset your biological clock

Pre-adjusting your internal clock is definitely a good first step.

On my way here, I took a PM (sleeping pill) on the plane to try to get some sleep, but I don’t think it was a good idea. It didn’t even work! I wasn’t about to time it, so I’m kind of glad it didn’t fall asleep if it was going to make this situation worst. Fortunately, I’m managing better now.

They say to allow one day per time zone and that will be how long it’ll take to adjust. For example, New York to Spain would be like, what, 4 or 5 time zones? You should then expect that amount of days to adjust to the new time. Well…it took me much longer. But again, I did everything backward this time.

Interestingly enough, new time zone adjustment is apparently easier to handle when traveling east to west, e.g., Spain to New York, because it’s easier to stay up later than go to bed earlier. That explains a lot…

What I’d like to know is what is your experience with jet lag when traveling to Australia, for instance?


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