Everyone knows when you travel through the time zones you’re at risk of getting jet lag, in fact it’s highly likely. There’s tons of information on how to prevent it; but nobody ever talks about what jet lag is, or how it can affect your first week (or two!) of travel. One things for sure; we underestimated just how messed up we would feel after travelling through two different time zones in the space of 2 days. Here’s a run down on our experiences and how we got over them, some of the side effects might surprise you!!
We did everything by the book; drank plenty of water before during and after the flight. We got out of our seats often, ate when people on the ground would be eating and even tried to slightly adjust our sleep pattern accordingly; we got more sleep on the plane than we expecting to! When we landed in China, we felt great! Refreshed and excited to see the sights, upon boarding our second flight we thought we’d cracked it.
How wrong was we!
Fast forward a day and we landed in Melbourne, excitement took over the tiredness so we went about the first day as normal, holding off sleep until it reached night here; we thought we were getting the hang of things. Then day 3 came around, and boy did we take a nosedive! We were no longer able to get to sleep before 2am, but neither could we sleep past 6am! Running on 4 hours sleep it felt like it was going to take forever to recover! Google told us that on average it takes 1 day per time difference to fully recover from jet lag… that meant we would potentially have another 6 DAYS!! of feeling like this. That wasn’t something we were looking forward to.
Within the first week we (I say we… Dec suffered a lot worse than I did) experienced everything from a groggy head, lack of appetite (and major munchies), feeling like the floor was moving and constant swelling in our joints – despite being really good with moving about on the plain. The most surprising, and scary, side effect though was the difference in Dec’s pupils; every night for four days one would be really large whilst the other really small. As you can imagine we initially got really worried, but apparently it’s down to your body being so run down and tired that it doesn’t function normally, like it doesn’t really know what it wants/need, but it’s something we’d never heard about before in relation to jet lag.
The main advice given with jet lag is to fight it, sleep when you’re supposed to and force yourself awake when it’s daytime. This didn’t work with us, it’s hard to force yourself awake when your body is physically shutting itself down for sleep by 1pm. Instead, we went with the flow; it wasn’t like we were only on a two-week holiday and needed to make the most of it. If we needed to nap, we did; and each day we found we were lasting a little bit longer. Eating proper meals at normal meal times was our big break through though. Once we started eating ‘breakfast food’ in the am and a big meal in the evening; even if it meant waking ourselves up for it, it was like our bodies finally got the message and realised we were no longer on UK time.
It took about a week and a half, maybe two weeks, to be fully back to normal. It wasn’t pleasant but we got through it and amazingly we managed to get all our important things done whilst dealing with it. So if you’re about to jet off to the other side of the world for an extended period of time; don’t fight it, you’ll only prolong it. Do as much prep before hand to cut down the side effects, and eat properly. You’ll get through it too! Even if it does seem like an impossible task.
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