"" Writer's Wanderings: Anticipating Jet Lag

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anticipating Jet Lag

Dubai, our next destination, is almost halfway around the world--an eight hour difference from our time zone. While we've had bigger challenges (Japan is 14 hours, Australia 12-14) the problem we face this trip is that our plane flight takes place when we would normally be sleeping and we arrive just in time to enjoy a few evening hours and retire to bed again. Hmmmm.

Jet lag is more difficult to deal with when traveling from west to east. It has to do with the change of daylight which regulates our sleep patterns. The National Sleep Foundation says, "Basically, our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called 'circadian rhythms.' These rhythms are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help determine when we sleep and when we wake."

What to do? We could begin to acclimate by slowly adjusting to the time while still home. From the information I gathered at the NSF and the Travel Clinics of America, we should begin going to bed earlier and getting up earlier since we are traveling west to east. That would put us to bed around dinnertime and have us up the next morning around 2-3 a.m. Not a good solution for us and besides, where's the sunlight at 2 a.m.?

I think the best advice I gleaned was that we should be well rested before we begin our trip. We will probably take a few short naps and then try to stay awake for the last half of our flight. Jet lag is always a challenge but a small consequence to pay to see the world.

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