On the Subject of Jet Lag

An annoying thing about traveling to a different country is that your body has this rhythm. You sleep during these hours, you’re awake during those hours. Then you land in a new country and all the rules have changed.

In recent trips, I’ve discovered a handy trick for this many people claim to know already. They say “take a nap.”

I’ve had some success with this. When Ian and I were in England, and I nearly passed out while standing up during a Beefeater tour, a quick nap before dinner made all the difference. In Peru, a quick nap really helped shake off the fact that I barely slept during the trip down from Houston. On another England trip with my parents, a nap might have really helped had the staff of the hotel not insisted on checking the mini bar no less than 3 times in 90 minutes. I should have started yelling earlier. Or put up a Do Not Disturb sign. I just didn’t think that would be necessary when there was no need for housekeeping.

But there are some situations in which this nap plan will not work.

Maybe on the Wednesday night before the Friday when you left, you had, perhaps, a couple too many adult beverages with the boys. And as such maybe you didn’t get the best sleep that night. So, one would say, that’s not a big problem. You’ll just get better sleep on Thursday.

Except perhaps your traitorous flesh body will betray you. Perhaps you will get no sleep on Thursday either, or at least far less than you intended.

Was it having a Coke at the 10:20 screening of Wonder Woman? That can’t be everything. It might explain why you had trouble getting to sleep, but not why you had trouble staying asleep.

No matter. Now it’s Friday. You’re leaving early in the morning– well not super early in the morning but early enough. And since you haven’t slept well for two nights in a row you’re pretty tired. Well, this must be ideal. Now you’ll be able to sleep on the plane with no problem, right?

Don’t be ridiculous. You have never slept well on a plane and you certainly aren’t going to start now.

So now it’s Saturday morning in Dublin. Your body still thinks it’s Friday evening. More to the point, it has not slept well since Tuesday. So it’s time to try that nap thing, right? Ninety minutes. One full REM cycle. That’s all you need. The problem is, as far as your body is concerned you have now spent two days on minimal sleep, and now your body clock thinks you just crawled into bed at 2 a.m. and then asked it to get back up at 4.  it’s like fasting for a week and then having one slice of pizza and thinking you’ll be full.

And that is how you spend your first day in Ireland too tired to function in public.

Desperate times, desperate measures. Like some 90 year old narcoleptic, you go to bed at the embarrassing time of 5 p.m. The plan? Get those 12 hours of sleep you need in order to make up for all the sleep you haven’t gone since Tuesday.

And that, sports fans, is how you end up awake and ready to go at 3 in the morning while the rest of central Dublin is finally putting itself to bed. But that’s ok. It gives you a couple of hours for Irish Netflix before you have to be at your tour at 6 o’clock. And then all you need to do is stay awake (more or less) for 20 hours and you’re finally ready to be acclimated to local time.

Join us next time when our topic will be: “Before you get off your hop-on hop-off bus tour, make sure you actually are near your hotel. Because you might be in for a longer walk in harder rain than you anticipated and then everything in your jacket will be soaked.”

Huh. Not sure that will require an entire blog now that I come to say it out loud. Maybe just some fun facts about Irish whiskey I learned.

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