up in the air

I feel jet lag is an overrated concept. I have come to the conclusion over the course of last few years with my trips to India as well as those by my friends. If you can sleep timely and comfortably in the flight; I am sure it’s possible (maybe in the luxury of first class!). Though I know that people get bogged down by traveling across time zones, and I, myself, am a victim to that, though I have wanted to prove that people give undue respect to jet lag.

My recent trip to India gave me an opportunity to test my theory. It was a very short trip for a week and I was sure that I would not have the luxury of taking time to get over my jet lagging at home. So, I was all prepared to 'sleep tight' in the flight. I was optimistic of catching a good sleep at some point of time of the flight given it was the longest ever time I had spent on the single leg of a journey. Mind you given my long legs and wide torso, just about managing to sit in the flight seat comfortably itself is a big deal, forget about sleeping well sitting. And adding to my misery was a severe and literal pain in the neck. I just could not keep my head leaning against the support and take even a small nap without feeling a pinch on the back of my neck. It was the most excruciating 18 hrs I have had to spend on a flight so far. I ended up watching 5 movies and about 3-4 one hour TV shows goes to prove that I just could not sleep at all!. I could not even sleep during the multiple layovers and ended up sleep deprived for good 32 hrs and more.

Despite of the self inflicted insomnia, I was determined not to sleep during day time in India and wait till its night there to sleep so that I can negate the effect of jet lag screwing up my biological clock and I was indeed successful in doing so. I was out of the house the very same day I landed and was back home only by night and went to bed when others in the house did. I woke up fresh the next day morning and for the next one week I was there I was successfully following the Indian timing. I was glad to have proven once and for all that jet lag was indeed not a big deal and yeah, I did spoke volumes about it to anyone who asked.

And my equal long return flight could not have gotten any better for me. The seat next to me was unoccupied and I had the luxury of lifting the hand rest and lying down and sleeping. And I did utilize my space well. I watched only 2 movies in the entire flight time is good enough testimony that I had good rest and sleep. And one of them I watched just for the heck of it. And back in US, I was again back to my US timings for I could not catch any more sleep.

Just when I was feeling jubilant for having successfully beaten the jet lag; not once but twice within a span of a week; it came back with vengeance. Two days after my return, I was walking around like a zombie in the afternoons at work - many cups of coffees having no effect on me. And for straight 2 days I was out as soon as I reached home and work up only to see the dawn of next day. Fortunately for me, it was the week of New Year and work wasn't heavy and the week was short. And within 2-3 days I was fine.

Given that I had slept for over 10 hrs in the flight, I am sure that the fatigue I was feeling was not from the return trip but from the 32 hrs vigil during my on flight to India. It took a week and more I succumbed to the jet lag. Not bad given the hectic and long flights I had! Though I didn’t prove conclusively that you can beat jet lag, at least I partially proved what need to be done to do so. Had I not had neck pain or if I had the provision of more space to sleep, I would have felt anything after a total of about 50+ hrs of air travel. And I look forward to my next trip to close this once and for all.