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 across the internet on how to prevent it, but nobody ever really talks about what jet lag is, or how it can affect your first week (or two!) of travel.
One thing’s for sure; we underestimated just how messed up we would feel after travelling through two different time zones in the space of 2 days.
So we thought we would share our experiences with the dreaded jet lag, how it made us feel and most importantly – how we got over it!
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I really didn’t want to feel rough when we first moved to Australia. I felt it would ruin the experience of landing in a whole new world so I tried to make sure we did everything by the book.
- Drink plenty of water before during and after the flight to prevent dehydration
- Get out of your seats often. Even if it’s just a quick walk to the toilet
- Eat when people at your final destination would be eating
- Try to slightly adjust your sleep pattern accordingly
We did all of this and in fact, I think we got more sleep on the plane than we expecting to!
When we landed in China, we felt great! We were refreshed and spend the best part of our 14 hour layover in Guangzhou taking in the sights around the city, treating ourselves to a quick power nap before heading back to the airport for flight #2.
As we boarded that flight I naively felt like we’d cracked it. If I wasn’t feeling rough now, I probably wouldn’t. Right?
How wrong were we!
That first day
Fast forward another comfortable flight to when we landed in Melbourne.
It was quite early in the morning, excitement took over the tiredness. As advised. in every online guide about dealing with jet lag, we went about the first day as normal.
We successfully held off sleep until it reached our first night; we thought we were getting the hang of things. This was easy.
Then day 3 came around.
Nobody ever tells you that jet lag can be delayed.
Booy did we take a nosedive!
We were no longer able to get to sleep before 2 am, but neither could we sleep past 6 am! 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.
How did we miss that with all the research I’d done prior to flying?
Within the first week we (I say we… Dec suffered from this a lot worse than I did) experienced everything from a groggy head, lack of appetite (but also 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. Almost like he was imitating David Bowie.
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. Again, this is something we’d never seen mentioned in any of the guides we’d read.
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 to sleep by 1 pm.
The Break Through
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 breakthrough though. Once we started eating ‘breakfast food’ in the morning 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 have a big extended trip coming up and you’re curious about how the jet lag will affect you, all I can say is expect the worst and you’ll be ok.
We made the mistake of expecting to feel ‘just a little bit tired’ and instead, we suffered pretty badly.
How have you dealt with jetlag in the past? Did the ‘force it to be ok’ method work, or did you resort to going with the flow like us?