Jetlag swine!

I have never suffered badly with jetlag (or been badly ‘lagged’ as my brother used to say). In all my travels I think I’ve fallen asleep in my dinner once or twice around the world, but I have always got at least as far as dinner before collapsing with exhaustion. 

The trip from the UK to Australia is something else though. It really is the other side of the world you are travelling to. Calculating the time ‘over there’ (whichever way you’re working it out) is confusing enough; trying to get your body to adjust is truly difficult. I have long been teased about my ability to fall asleep almost anywhere and I thought that having slept for a remarkable 20 hours (ish) of my recent 26 hrs travel time I might, on this trip, escape severe jetlag. I was wrong.

After leaving London on Monday evening, I arrived in Brisbane at 7am on Wednesday (that’s late Tuesday night UK time) I made it through to 8pm on Wednesday, even managing an impressively productive few hours opening an Australian bank account and getting hold of an Australian SIM card. This was followed by a few minutes of drooping eyelids in the car, but cars always send me to sleep. I wasn’t driving I’ll just point out.

When I woke up on Thursday at 8am I thought “Jetlag – ha!” But by 3pm I was falling asleep upright and gave in, thinking a little nap won’t hurt. How wrong I was. I got up at 6pm and had dinner and returned to bed at 10pm. At 1.30am I woke up. At 3.50am I was still lying in bed wide awake. At 6am I heard my friend that I’m staying with go to work. Eurgh. Never before have I so regretted having a nap.

Today is Friday and despite being awake for five hours last night while everyone else was asleep, it is 6.30pm and I am still awake. If I can just make it through to 8 or 9pm (and then sleep through the night obviously) I will be happy, especially considering I have to remain awake through a graduation ceremony tomorrow. My friend reassured me that if I do doze off, then I won’t be the first!

The ‘powering through’ theory has helped me in the past. Forcing myself to adjust to a new time zone has often worked before, but yesterday I failed completely. I think another significant element in reducing the impact of jetlag is exposure to light at your destination. With that in mind I have been out and about today and will again tomorrow, so fingers crossed I am on the road to recovery!

What are your experiences of jetlag? It is generally thought to be easier to adjust when travelling West and your day lengthens. Do you have a theory on how best to cope with jetlag? Have you ever tried the homeopathic ‘no jet lag’ pills available? Or taken melatonin or sleeping pills? And if so, did they work? Please let me know!

Photo credit: Stephane Williams

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