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Scrambled brain aka a bad case of jet lag

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I’m no stranger to serious travel.

Landing in London

Landing in London (Everyday Asia)

As in hop on a plane, jump across multiple time zones for short trips, long trips and some in between.

There was a time when I practically dismissed the jet lag phenomenon. Sure it gets you, but there are oodles of ways to cope!

Top tips:

  • Arrive at your destination during the day/early eve, fight to stay awake til a ‘decent’ local sleeping hour and drop exhausted into slumber
  • Even if you wake up early, resist the urge to get out of bed… worst case read til your eyes droop
  • Keep busy and active during the day! Get out and about as much as possible – especially during the mid-afternoon “I’m dying to just shut my eyes for a min!” period
  • Hydrate, eat healthy, avoid / reduce alcohol, no late night eating

Yeah… I know the drill.

However right now I’ve got a serious case of scrambled brain. As in barely functioning. As in I’ve never had jet lag like this.

(Vinyl on pinterist)

(Vinyl on pinterist)

Six time zones in two weeks will do that to you. Never once adjusted properly to any time zone…

I’m so mixed up that Day #1 back home went like this:

  • 11am – Land in Mumbai
  • 4pm – Serious case of the sleepies… but I WILL prevail!! Fight it! Fight it!
  • 10pm – Gotta sleep… OMG get me to bed now!
  • 12am – Ooooh my own bed, my own pillows, my own Zzzzzz…..
  • 4am – Ping! Wake up! Bugger… try to get back to sleep… Nope… give up and decide to read…
  • 6am – Still wide awake, give in and make a cup of coffee
  • 9am – Yup! Clearly up for the count so let’s get on with the day!
Resistance is futile (Healthista.com)

Resistance is futile (Healthista.com)

And Day #2 went like this:

  • 11am – Coffee # 2, foggy brain, deal with workers and their even more brainless antics
  • 3pm – No place to sit, so propped up in bed working on laptop…. dangerous… eyes shut… Oh crap! Fell asleep!
  • 10pm – Somewhat tired but not so bad
  • 4am – Arrrgghhhh!!!!! Cannot sleep!!! Been awake for 24 hours less the accidental 20 minute afternoon nap!!
  • 9am – Ding dong! Ding dong! (Howl!!)

Within the first 48 hours of being home I’ve had a grand total of under 5 hours sleep.

Jet lag I hate you.

You dare to disturb me? (plantothrive.net)

You dare to disturb me? (plantothrive.net)

Synapses are just not quite connecting… There was lots I SHOULD be doing but sleep deprived Carissa is not a productive lass!

Anyone else get kicked in the backside by nasty jet lag lately?

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  1. Jet lags can be terrible. I never had one until we went last time to China and my wife was too exhausted once we arrived to take a “nap”…6hours nap, of course I also fell alseep and the whole week was miserable afterwards. In your case I really wonder how you manage hopping all over the world 🙂

    • The trick is to avoid the ‘nap’ at all costs!! I really do know better but that’s what got me both in Vancouver, not adjusting to London time for while we were there and then… the dreaded ‘nap’ in Mumbai. Manage to get past the ‘nap’ and all will be well in 2 days. I promise! 🙂

  2. So you don’t believe in the one day for every hour of time difference, eh? 😀 And I’m not sure how this applies with your multi zone adventure. I put some faith in it, especially coming from Japan to Canada. That’s horrible every time. And the worst? Last year (back from Japan, of course) with a partying baby and dead to the universe parents failing on all counts to keep up.

    • That would be just too depressing as would mean 11.5 days of recovery – which is nonsense! 🙂 If I do all the right stuff, usually its 2 – 3 days of yuck then more or less back to normal.

      I think because we just were all over the place with this trip, we’ve both been hit hard. Last night we planned to be in bed no later than 12:30am. I did that but couldn’t sleep. My partner also couldn’t sleep so decided to watch some TV. By 2:30am he joined me where I kept reading and he played scrabble. We were still having a merry chat at 4:00am… groan…

      But partying baby and trying to keep up? I bow down to you! I don’t think I’d manage that.

      • Ha ha! Well, that partying baby post-travel trauma has been seared into my foggy jet-lagged memory. I honestly don’t know how Hitoshi and I made it through that week. I was laughing hysterically by the second day of 3am wakeup raves while Hitoshi was passed out in the playpen. What else could I do?? 😀 By the way, are you back to normalish?

        • More or less. 🙂 A girlfriend in China returned a few weeks ago from the US with the ‘partying baby’ phenomenon too… are things starting to improve for you as well??

          • Yes. Sadly, it’s taken over a year but our baby is finally off the jetlag party. Ha ha ha! Just teasing. That trip was last Feb/Mar and the partying baby calmed down after a couple of weeks. And I’m *thrilled* that someone else has experienced that! I figured I wasn’t the only one but it sure feels good to know that I really, truly am not alone. 🙂

            • She’s into a couple weeks back now and shared the ‘partying baby’ is starting to chill out. Funny how she described it exactly the same way! 😉

  3. Sarah M says:

    The trouble is I’m like that sometimes even when I”m not travelling. I fear I may be turning into my parents, waking up at 4AM and then dozing in my chair all afternoon. I blame self employment.
    Not sure what the answer is. Less caffeine maybe? Moving phones and computers out of the bedroom?

    • Haha! Yeah.. self-employment does have the danger of less structured work time and… ahem.. the possibility of an afternoon nap. 😉 Easy access to a comfy bed is a dangerous thing!!

  4. I know exactly what you mean!

    • Suspected you might have experienced this a time or two. 😉 Now… is it just me or is getting more challenging with each decade?

      I recall my teenage jaunts between North America and Europe as nothing! My 20s travels as easy peasy. 30s travel still kept in stride. 40s travel has been a wee bit more challenging and I pay a lot more attention to the kind of flights I book to minimise the negative effects… for example, I will pay more for day flights within Asia as I function far better when not deprived sleep overnight for a 4 – 5 hour flight. Do you do this too?

      • We try to but sometimes it’s just not possible. Like this trip to Sweden to visit family. Their closest airport has only one flight per day to Amsterdam, leaving at 6am, preceded by a 45 min drive to the airport to arrive by 5.30, followed by a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam and a 10 hr flight to Vancouver. I keep telling myself it will all be okay. I can do without much sleep to an extent, but not as well as I used to be able to.

  5. Oh gosh! Yes, jet lags can be bad.. What you got was an overdose

    • Haha! Yup! I have company too… my partner and I were both up together til 4am on Day 3. Sigh… Eventually it will abandon its firm grip of us and move on to other victims. 😉

  6. BerLinda says:

    I still can’t afford flights anywhere 🙂 Hope your brain unscrambles soon!

  7. Mabel Kwong says:

    I hate jet lag and always experience it when I go back to Malaysia (from Australia) for holidays. It’s returning to Australia when I usually experience it much worst – Australia is usually two or three hours ahead compared to Malaysia. I usually get the early morning flight into Australia and always end up feeling sleepy throughout the day. Last time I came back from Malaysia, I stuck out the sleepiness until midnight, slept the whole night and was right as rain the next day 😀

    I pity you going around the world so often for work. Don’t know how you do it 🙂

    • At the moment not so much work. 🙂 It is true that I regularly do the 2.5 hour time difference between Mumbai and Singapore much like your Australia – Malaysia.

      In my case the effective time difference is more like 3.5 – 4 hours as our routine in India is ‘late’ i.e. we generally don’t go to bed til after midnight and get up only around 8:30am. Whereas in Singapore typically I need to be out of the house by 8:30am which means waking up at what feels like 5:00am for my body.

      Yet even still, that I can take in stride provided I get a day flight. It is when I have no choice but to take the 4.5 – 5 hour overnight flight that its tough!

      This jet lag is different than I’ve ever experienced. I’ve now been back 5 nights and am still unable to sleep before 4:30 – 5:30am. Which means I’ve been living on about 3 – 4 hours sleep. I’ve tried every trick that has always worked before to no avail.

      Tonight? Drugs. Last resort is a sleeping pill. Ugh!

      • Mabel Kwong says:

        Sounds like it’s physically taxing for you to shuttle between countries like that so often. Overnight and red eye flights – you don’t know if you’ll sleep on these flights so you might end up at your destination (and in your case work) getting no sleep. And perhaps a case of crankiness 😀

        Last resort for me is medication too. Don’t want to be dependent on them and I hope you don’t!

        • I have a massive aversion to overnight flights – do my best to avoid if at all possible as they are a bugger. But I’ve done that too many times to count – stop at the hotel to dump bags early morning, have a shower in their gym area as room not ready and go into work. By evening I’m toast and come back early to collapse!

          I also know to avoid the heavy thinking / contribution type activities on that day. For example – will NEVER schedule conducting a full day program on no sleep. That’s just not fair to the participants. But the next day… well that’s fair game. 😉

          I did get the sleeping pill but will decide at midnight whether to take or not. The last time I tried on a 9 hour flight it had zero effect so… let’s see. I’m totally not a pill kinda person so unlikely will have more than one night.

  8. Good advice! Jet lag is the worst, especially when you have traveled for nearly a day to get to your destination. I suffer severe jet lag every time I go back to Canada and when I return to Taiwan. The last time my flight arrived at night but I was still up at the crack of dawn and gave in at 6 p.m. that evening when I couldn’t keep my eyes opened any longer.

    • What I’ve found is for short trips i.e. a week to N America, it is almost better if you don’t try too hard to adjust to Canada time zone as then the ‘re-entry’ to Asia isn’t so severe. So ‘giving in’ isn’t such a bad thing. However for medium to longer trips, the faster you get your body into the new time zone rhythm, the healthier and happier your trip is.

      What was a new discovery for me is how completely miserable sustained insufficient sleep is brought about by mixing up so many time zones rapidly in a compressed period.

      I know the other challenge is all the work in the building too. It is non-stop banging during the day with a constant case of inhaling plaster dust and paint fumes. Day 6 of less than 4 hours sleep and constant headaches is not making me a happy camper.

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