Surviving Jet Lag

With my 25-hour flight from Sydney back to Lon­don fast approach­ing, my mind is wan­der­ing to the top­ic of jet lag–or desynchronosis, to use the med­ic­al term.

The most often sug­ges­ted rem­ed­ies for jet lag (where recov­ery times are gen­er­ally said to be 1 day per east­ward time zone or 1 day per 1.5 west­ward time zones) are fast­ing for 11–16 hours before the flight or wear­ing sunglasses (the lat­ter is what the Brit­ish Air­ways jet lag cal­cu­lat­or is based on).

Not par­tic­u­larly a fan of these meth­ods, I con­cur with Bry­an Caplan’s advice as he frames jet lag (and infant night feed­ings) in terms of fixed costs:

My altern­at­ive: Do not sleep on the plane.  At all.  When you arrive, do not sleep – at all – until a loc­ally nor­mal bedtime.  Pay the fixed cost without cheating.  When you wake up eight to ten hours later, you will be refreshed and in sync with your new time zone.  In exchange for less than a day of sleep depriva­tion, you will feel fine for the rest of your trip.

This tech­nique has served me well for many years.

3 thoughts on “Surviving Jet Lag

  1. mamacita

    To me, instead of for­go­ing sleep and accept­ing all of the down­side that entails, I’d rather sleep whenev­er I’m tired, and then take Melaton­in again at the loc­al bed­time.

  2. Lloyd Morgan Post author

    Update: The above tech­nique (for­go­ing sleep on the plane, sleep­ing at a loc­ally-nor­mal time once at the des­tin­a­tion) worked per­fectly for me.

    The total jour­ney time from Kings Cross, Sydney to Cardiff, UK was 34 hours (door-to-door). I stayed awake for an extra 7 hours once at home and felt per­fect the next day… when I was work­ing!

    Recom­men­ded.

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