We are back from our trip “home” to Atlanta. I had a nice visit with our family, and my husband finished his business trip, plus had a few days to see our children as well. We took care of a few “homeowner chores” on our house in ATL, and we got to visit restaurants we miss, and do some shopping, etc. It was a pretty pleasant 16 days… aside from JET LAG.
Let’s face it… jet lag sucks. If you have ever traveled by air and crossed multiple time zones, you know this. Jet lag messes with your body. It upsets your sleep, your appetite, and your digestion. It gives you “foggy brain” during the day, and makes you sleepless at night. And the more time zones you cross, the worse it is… and the longer it lasts.
In the past year and a half, we have done a lot of air travel. So far in 2017 alone, I have already had 10 flights of 10 hours or more. The direct flight to ATL from Tokyo is about 13 hours — a little longer on the east to west leg, and a little shorter on the west to east leg. From this, some observations:
- In general, jet lag from west to east travel is worse than east to west travel. I know there is an explanation, and it involves circadian rhythms, but I don’t exactly understand it. All I know, is that I can leave Tokyo, fly 13 hours, cross 13 time zones, and arrive in Atlanta at the same “time” that I left Tokyo. lol… I become a time traveler. Then it takes me a week to feel normal and sleep normally again. When we fly from ATL to Tokyo, we “lose a day” and arrive about 26 hours after the time we left Atlanta. (13 hour flight plus 13 time zones equals 26 hours later.)
- Either way we fly, that 13 hour time difference pretty much turns our days and nights upside down. We find ourselves getting sleepy/groggy at lunch time (roughly midnight in the other location), reviving a bit in the evening, and then waking — almost invariably — at around 3 or 4 in the morning. Sometimes we manage to go back to sleep at 5-ish, but sometimes not. Today, for example (our second day back), I woke at 3:15 am Tokyo time, and never could go back to sleep. We finally gave up and got out of bed at 5:45 am — even though this is a holiday (Mountain Day in Japan) and my husband didn’t have to go to work.
- Under the influence of jet lag, my appetite is wacky. I get hungry at odd times, and don’t feel hungry at normal meal times. My digestive tract becomes confused and sluggish (we will leave it at that…) and my mind becomes somewhat muddled. I sometimes lose my train of thought, and find myself staring out of windows… a lot. lol.
It all gets better with time… slowly. Day by day, my sleep becomes gradually more normal, and everything starts to adjust to the new time zone again. It is unpleasant, though, for those first few days. I guess it is just the price we have to pay for living in a foreign country, so far from “home.”