JET LAG

I feel like the first thing I should write in-depth about is jet lag since it’s currently what I’m dealing with.

As many of you know, I wrote in some earlier posts my strategy to defeat or mitigate the effects of jet lag once I was in London. I started by shifting my sleep schedule prior to departing for my trip. I think this actually did help. I arrived in London at about 7am. I had slept very little on the plane, perhaps an hour at best. This was not what I had intended. The plan was to sleep as much as possible while on the plane, simulating a good night of sleep. This was so I could then spent my first day being rested. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to sleep that much.

I arrived at my hotel sometime after 8am but my room wasn’t ready. That was ok since I felt some fatigue but it wasn’t that bad actually. Also, I knew I couldn’t just sleep in the morning. I had to delay my sleep until London night-time to quickly adapt to the new time zone. So I dropped off my luggage and decided to walk around the area. I wound up walking to Buckingham Palace and randomly lucked out and watched the changing of the guard. I then walked to Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. I then wandered off to Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square. I did a lot of walking considering that I was operating on about one hour of sleep and had just endured a trans-Atlantic flight.

I finally got back to my hotel, well after the 2pm check-in time. I went to get my keys but the front desk informed me my room was still not ready and they could not give me a definitive time when it would be ready. Before I could even get annoyed, they made a quick decision to upgrade me to an available deluxe room. This was of course acceptable to me.

Once I got into my room, my plan was to unpack, take a shower, and then grab a large coffee from the Starbucks across the street. I did all those things. I returned to my room with my coffee and sat on the bed while I watched British TV. By this time it was about 4pm or so. I was going to finish my coffee and go out, get my Oyster card, and then continue to see what London had to offer. After drinking the coffee, I began to feel very fatigued. It was as if I hadn’t had any caffeine at all. The hotel bed was so comfortable and I was so tired. I wasn’t even really in control at this point. I had to put my head down on the pillow as I watched TV. It felt so good to be resting. I knew sleep was coming and it was unavoidable. I reconciled this by deciding if I just napped for one hour, it would still be ok. To that end, I would set my alarm on my tablet, which was right next to me. I remember looking at it and seeing the time, almost 5:30pm. It was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep in London.

I woke up sometime later, not really sure how long I had slept. The TV was still on though the program I had been watching was over. The room was darker than before because the sun had gone down and the sky was dark blue. That was not a good sign. I looked at my watch and it was almost 10pm. Whoops. This was exactly the opposite of what I should have done. I slept too soon and too much. I was really afraid I’d messed up my sleep and now I’d be jet-lagged one extra day. I immediately jumped up and realized I felt a lot better. I was feeling more rested and I was hungry. I went out to get some takeout dinner from Victoria Station next door. I also picked up an Oyster card.

At midnight, I decided I had to try to sleep again because that’s when my body should be wanting to sleep. I wasn’t sure how the five-hour nap was going to affect that but it was worth a try. To help things along, I took a few melatonin pills and a sleeping pill. To my delight, it worked as half an hour later, I was very groggy and fell asleep. I slept for about eight hours, most of that uninterrupted. I woke up feeling rested and ready to explore London.

From Sunday on, my body was synced up to London time. I didn’t feel any effects of jet lag at all. I was awake and rested in the mornings. I didn’t feel the need to sleep during the daytime. At night, I felt tired and fatigued around midnight, which was perfectly normal given all the activities I had done during the days. This was something that allowed me to maximize my time in London. Except for that one initial afternoon where I had the errant nap, I really didn’t lose anytime where I was sleeping instead of seeing something important.

Of course, jet lag works both ways. It’s also something I didn’t really think about while I was in London. After all, I’d be an idiot to try to adjust back to Vancouver time while still in London. When I arrived home on Sunday, I did my best to stay awake until night-time but I succumbed to a nap from about 7pm to 11pm. I knew I was in trouble when I wasn’t tired at all at 4am. I tried going to sleep at 5am and took a sleeping pill to assist me. I woke up at 9am feeling wide awake.

At 6pm on Sunday, I started feeling really tired but I knew I couldn’t go to sleep then. I pushed myself to stay awake until midnight. I was able to sleep until 5am but no more. On Monday, the same thing happened. The fatigue starts rolling in about early afternoon. I stave it off until about 1am. I woke up at 6am this morning with no ability to go back to sleep. I am definitely not getting the amount of sleep that I should be receiving. Currently, it’s 11pm and I’m about to nod off. I think it’s time for bed.

I’m guessing I’ll need a few more days before I’m back to my old schedule.

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