Monday, April 27, 2009

Jet lag and circadian rhythms

Yep, it's over. I'm here sitting at my beautiful iMac blogging from home again. I've been awake after all that travel and the 9-hour gap in my day won't be missed after a day or two or three. Just about the time you get completely adjusted to the time change, it's time to turn around and come home. Yesterday I started the day watching the sun come up in Zurich at 6:00 am, and then it didn't go down again for 20 hours, traveling with the sun. Arriving in Seattle at 8:00 pm, the sun was just going down for the first time since I watched it rise in Zurich.

But I'm home now, and I'm determined to stay awake until somewhere near the normal time to sleep. I started my usual routine, although I couldn't stay asleep and woke at 4:00 am. Wikipedia explains why jet lag is supposedly more difficult traveling from east to west. Here they use two scenarios, traveling east from LA to London and traveling west from London to LA, an 8-hour time change:
The first scenario is equivalent to staying up all night and going to bed at 6am the next day — 9 hours later than usual. But the second scenario (eastward) is equivalent to staying up all night and going to bed at 2pm the next day — 14 hours after the time one would otherwise have gone to bed.
Maybe that's why I seem to have more problem traveling east to west: my circadian rhythm seems to be shorter than normal. Most people's circadian rhythm (their normal sleep/wake cycle) is slightly longer than 24 hours. Studies also seems to show that it takes about a day per time zone to recover. Of course, that would mean that I didn't fully recover before it was time to come home, but I know I did.

It sure helped to work out at the gym today, and visit my friends at the coffee shop. This is a wonderful place to live. Yesterday when we arrived at Dulles and stepped off the plane, it was a shock: more than 90 degrees F and, being a Sunday, packed full with people, almost every flight oversold. And stepping off the plane in Seattle, the air was crisp and cool, aahhh, Pacific Northwest, you are my home. I now proudly call myself a Bellinghamster...


  1. Welcome home DJan. I'm glad you got back safely! I also suffer more when travelling east-west. It takes me 3 - 4 days to adjust. However, when I travel back to London, from Atlanta, I arrive in the morning and I just live my normal day. The fact that I've been up all night on the airplane doesn't seem to bother me in the least. I'm even ok the next day, but oh, going west, it's a different story...
    Love your computer...
    Blessings, Star

  2. Hi Star!

    Isn't it pretty? I looked at it when I turned it on and said, "hi sweetie, did you miss me?" (it didn't answer) It's weird how jet lag affects different people. Mickey doesn't seem to notice it, but he doesn't need much sleep. I, on the other hand, usually need 9 hours a night, so I really feel it! Are you still needing to jump through more hoops before becoming employed?

  3. I was just about to call Ben, and maybe President Obama, to figure out where the heck you were! I'm sure glad you made it home safely, though. Now I can stop flipping back and forth between your blog and your FB page all day.

  4. Dear DJan,
    I am so happy to hear that you arrived home, finally! After Skopje I went to Sarajevo immediately and I was so very tired.
    I don`t know if Mickey informed you but we were looking for you that last day to say good by and to kiss you! But he said you were sleeping and we did not want to wake you up.
    Just wanted to say that I miss you very much (both of you actually) and I hope you will not forget us :)
    Kisses, Dragana

  5. Home at last!
    I've enjoyed your blogs, even though I didn't comment as much as I would have liked, because my internet connectivity was intermittent, non-existent, or expensive.
    Love the photo of you at work!


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