The Woes of Jet Lag
On my most recent trip to China- As always, the long leg was over the pole. You’d think it would be exciting to peek out the window- catch a great glimpse of something cool. Nope. Just white fading into darkness. Then pitch black. This induces a weird sort of sleep that is not only abnormal, but after waking up, you have no idea if you slept for 20 minutes or 20 hours. That strange airplane smell, the hum of the engines, the need to open your mouth to pop your ears ever hour or so. All of it is a bit strange. A bit unsettling. Knowing that you’ll land and be 180 degrees out of phase. The worst possible scenario, right?
Jet lag is a strange situation. You’re nearly 7,000 miles from home and expected to perform at peak capacity. I mean, this company has just paid serious money to haul your sleep-deprived carcass across the globe; you’d better be able to function and hold your own here. So, after breakfast (two cups of coffee, various strange fruit, and an omelet), you’re on to your day.
When you arrive at the factory, you quickly ask for ANOTHER cup of coffee. Around 11AM (what would otherwise be your bed time, by the way), you clench your jaw in hopes of fighting back the first yawn of the day; but, alas, nope. With a large gulp of oxygen, you open your mouth, quickly cup your hands over your face in hopes of no one noticing, and take your first yawn of the day! So satisfying. So soothing. So necessary at this point.
After lunch, you seem to get your second wind. You feel rejuvenated. You’re awake! Well, sort of. 3PM rolls in and you feel a crash is imminent. After all, it’s 3AM your time! Normally you’d be well into REM sleep, or a good, deep sleep cycle - certainly not standing up at a white board in front of a crew of a dozen guys trying to explain why your ideas are sound and make sense.
After 5PM you are fighting back the nesting urge. You’re scanning the room, searching for a dark, quite corner to curl up in. Your normal brightness and vigor has faded to a dull, glazed-over, bloodshot-eyed, 1,000 yard stare. During the trek back to the hotel, you catch some neck-breaking shuteye in the car.
After an 8PM dinner (8AM your time!), you feel more awake. The combination of your internal clock waking up, some food in your belly- Voila! You’re a new man! All of this just in time to hear your team mates say, “Well, I’m beat. Time for bed! See you all bright and early in the morning!”
Jet lag is a strange circumstance. I’ve heard others, those much more versed in the torture than I, speak of tricks and remedies. The one that works for me is to just fight your way through it. Yawn if you must, but keep going. Try to adapt as quickly as possible. For some reason, the trip to China seemed easier than the recovery after landing back in Boston. This time around took 3 to 5 days to bounce back from, and was far more difficult to acclimate to.
-Andrew Goddard, CEO