Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jet Lag

It's a not very funny business, this jet lag.  I'm wondering if it gets harder--like everything else!--with age.  I certainly can't remember ever having it this bad.  It's not just a matter of feeling dead tired virtually all day and sleeping poorly at night--a time when the body persists in thinking that it's daytime.  There's that, yes.  But for me, this time, I'm experiencing various other symptoms.  Balance, for example.  I feel like I'm about to fall over half the time, and keep bumping into things.  I'm ill-tempered and easily upset--ask Ellie!  And along with the anger, there's a sense of overwhelming sadness and uncertainty.  I'm trying to be Buddhist about the whole thing, watching the feelings rise and fall, breathing away the physical discomfort, reminding myself of impermanence...  All good stuff.  But it's getting on for three days now, and I wish it would go away.  I've heard it said that it takes a day for every time-zone crossed.  That's nine, from Paris.  Eight from England...  

I've also often heard it said that this is an evolutionary effect: that the human body was simply not designed to cross nine time zones in as many hours.  Our technological advances have far outpaced the slow progress of evolutionary change.  But then I watch a child playing a computer game, completing with amazing speed and dexterity the kind of tasks that my old fingers navigate with ponderous clumsiness, and I wonder if the evolution argument holds true.  I wonder if those who travel long distances as a regular part of their lives--a Hillary Clinton, say--have learned to adapt more successfully than I?

So, any home remedies out there?  Curiously, there was an article in one of the newspapers--the International Herald Tribune, perhaps?--the day we left.  It said that there was no remedy that had been proved effective...  Ah, well.

4 comments:

robin andrea said...

Sorry, Peter, I don't have any jet lag remedies. I suspect that coming home to 100+ degree temps didn't help. I think cooling temps, a nice foggy breeze off the ocean would be a good thing. Good luck with it, and I hope you are feeling present and better soon.

Anonymous said...

Hope you'll be feeling better soon, Peter. We enjoyed your photos & reports from Europe very much. Glad to read that you enjoyed meeting Mary in Paris. She was delighted with you. Fred

Nautilus said...

I recently returned from a visit to the UK, an 8 hour time difference, and on returning had the worst jet lag of my life also, and I'm only 32. It took me about 8 days to feel back to normal. So I believe that old saying about a day per hour.
However, I discovered that taking a Melatonin supplement and wearing an eye mask definitely helped me regulate my sleeping pattern. I learned, (bless Wikipedia), that Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It is important in the regulation of circadian rhythms, promoting sleepiness and synchronizing the biological clock.
Apparently, overexposure to (blue) light inhibits the production of melatonin, so "over-illumination" is obviously a big culprit in jet-lagged, insomniac individuals like you and me. Thus, taking a dietary supplement of Melatonin at bedtime for few days is supposed to help. If you prefer you could opt for wearing blue-light blocking goggles in the hours before bedtime, which may prevent melatonin loss, but could also require that you set aside a little vanity!
However, like most things, if you are considering using melatonin supplements, I would suggest talking to your doctor.
Hope this helps!

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