Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Heart Jet Lag

Does anyone else like jet lag? I must admit that I kind of enjoy it, but I have not met m/any others who do. It isn't so great if I arrive at a distant conference and almost immediately find myself sitting in an afternoon session, struggling to keep my eyes from rolling back into my head, but there are some aspects of jet lag that I like. For example, jet lag sleep is strangely deep and satisfying for me.

I can't sleep on planes, and I don't even bother with any particular strategy involving sleep aids, flying at a particular time of day etc. I just take whatever flights work best for reasons of schedule/economy and then roll with the jet lag. I do not struggle against it. I am at peace with it. It might even make me a nicer person (temporarily).

I have been known to cultivate jet lag. When I get home from a trip, I don't mind waking up insanely early for a few days. I am not typically a 'morning person'; in my non-jet lagged existence, I require alarms and severe cat activity to start to wake up, and then I need a few snooze alarm episodes. When I am jet-lagged, I wake before the alarms and even before 2/3 of my cats. This is quite interesting and novel, at least for a few days.

You might think that jet lag would make routine administrative work even more difficult, but in fact it can be quite helpful to have a temporary, jet lag-induced feeling of detachment and distance from some otherwise tedious activities (some meetings, paperwork etc.). It wouldn't be fun all the time, but for a few days, I am happy to recover slowly from the rigors of travel, eventually emerging from jet lag into my usual mode of existence. That's fine, too, I am usually ready for things to go back to what passes for normal around here.

11 comments:

kamikaze said...

I agree. Jet lag is great for focusing on research, especially at 5 am. The only nuisance is that most hotels only start serving breakfast at 630...

Anonymous said...

Do you drink coffee or other forms of caffeine?

Cognitive impairment induced by jet lag is a source of embarrassment for me at international conferences. I don't tolerate caffeine well (it makes me anxious) and have trouble functioning on little sleep--I forget things, my executive function stalls, and I get sad more easily.

You're really lucky.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%, especially the part about how pleasant it is to detach from admin crap.

Anonymous said...

I am with you. I like it too, for a little while.

Sometimes I start not to like it so much when I still feel like crap 4-5 days or more after getting back from a trip.

Anonymous said...

FSP, with great affection...you and at least two of your readers are kinda weird. ;-)

Anonymous said...

You must have been jet-lagged when you wrote this post.

Anonymous said...

Depends on the amount and direction. Like FSP, I quite like coming back (west) from a trip and waking up early and alert. But unlike FSP I detest the jetlag induced by the 8 hour (east) time difference between where I live and my home country. Being wide awake in the night and then having to get up at the exact time I would normally be falling asleep just kills me for ~ 1 week. I try to roll with it, and usually manage that on stress-free holiday trips, but it is just awful if the trip involves anything stressful.

EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy said...

Jet lag is an altered state of being, and like other examples of that category can be fun.

Not so fun though, when there is pressure on to achieve X by Y and all the time between now and Y will be spent in that special place.

wombat said...

Amusingly, my research touches on this. Chronobiology research has found that evening people cope with jet lag better than morning people.

It would amuse me to use the comments for this in my research, but I'll forgo it. :-)

For the record, I'm an evening person, and jet lag doesn't typically bother me much at all.

Anonymous said...

you have more than 2/3 cats??....

olympiasepiriot said...

I like the description of jet lag in William Gibson's novel Pattern Recognition: "Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.

It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option now. ... She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage."