Jet lag sucks. I’ve never had a huge problem with it on European trips, taking the approach of toughing it out and staying up long enough to sync with local time. Australia/New Zealand are so far ahead in the time zone that you just sort of shift into the next day without experiencing a lot of issues. Asia kills me. The first time we went (in 2005) I kept wanting to fall asleep during dinner. I never had difficulty falling asleep when we finally did go to bed, rarely before 11 PM, but would consistently wake up around 3 or 4 AM and be unable to get back to sleep. This lasted for more than half of our 2 week trip, leaving me feeling like a zombie.
When I traveled to India for work in 2007, I resorted to taking sleeping pills. They didn’t really help me on the flight, I think I managed less than 3 hours on a full dose of Ambien, but they did allow me to fall asleep and stay asleep once I arrived. I made the mistake of not taking one after about 3 nights, thinking I had to be adjusted to the time zone by then. Bingo, I woke up at 3 AM the next morning. At least I’m consistent. So I went right back to taking sleeping pills for the rest of the trip.
I’ve never been able to sleep on airplanes, even in the relative comfort of a business class seat. When we took our epic first trip to Australia, spending 46 hours in transit, I only managed a few short cat naps on the plane. This trip to Japan was no exception. The coach seats were extraordinarily uncomfortable, with less leg room than a typical domestic Delta flight. We also experienced a lot of turbulence, which I don’t generally find to be conducive to sleeping.
We stuck with our strategy of toughing it out and staying up until something close to a normal bedtime once we arrived. We did wake up early (4-5 AM) every day, but since we were able to go to bed by 8 PM it wasn’t bad. Staying on a super early schedule fit with the buses to the track and seemed to lessen the effect of the jet lag. At least while we were in Japan.
Our first day home we managed to stay awake until after 8 PM before crashing in what turned out to be an epic (nearly 15 hour) sleeping jag. Since we had been up for over 30 hours, I assumed this was just catch up sleep. When we flew to Phoenix the next day, I actually thought it would help us readjust, since the time would be 2 hours earlier. So we hadn’t really slept until 11 AM, just 9 AM Phoenix time. No big deal right?
Hah! We didn’t even try to go to bed until 2 AM, since neither one of us felt tired. It took at least an hour to fall asleep and by 6 AM we were both awake again. Now I’m just getting a little annoyed. We needed to be up early today, so we went to bed at 8 PM last night, hoping for a better night’s sleep. Now it’s not even noon and I’m tired already. Maybe I’m getting too old for this.
Jet lag sucks.