Suffering From Jet Lag

Jet lag is a strange thing. Even when you travel regularly it can be hard to predict just exactly how it will affect you. It seems to be different every time. Sometimes it’s not that bad at all and other times it’s as if you’re sick. Last night, I was supposed to finish a post and publish it, but at 8pm I was so tired that as soon as I sat down I was passing out. I tried to get a second wind going, but by 9pm I was physically hurting and threw in the towel. I barely remember my head hitting the pillow.

Talking to others who travel regularly, it seems that jet lag is always worse when you are returning to your own time zone, but it really varies greatly from person to person. In case you’ve never experienced jet lag, it is a sleep disorder that happens when you cross multiple time zones. It is generally referred to as not being able to sleep at normal times or being very sleepy at irregular times. Basically, your sleep pattern is messed up. However, it isn’t just that. Jet lag can also cause digestive problems, stomach problems, mood changes, and an overall unwell feeling. You can be so sleepy that you are blacking out in the middle of standing up and you can wake up at 3am full of energy.

If you’re on vacation these symptoms may not matter so much. You can work your day around it. When Luka and I were married we flew out at 4am to Barcelona. Our daily schedule was something like this: We would be so tired after the breakfast at our hotel that we would decide to take a nap. That nap turned into sleeping the day away. Around 9pm we woke up and went out in the city. We then came back to our hotel around 2am wide awake and would watch movies or TV shows on the computer. Around 5am we would be sleepy, but hold out until 7am when the hotel’s breakfast started so we could go have “dinner,” then come back to the room and fall asleep. It was so backwards, but we had no schedule to keep so it really didn’t matter.

When we come to California from Slovenia, it’s usually much easier. We wake up extremely rested around 4-5am and feel pretty good until somewhere around 7pm and then to go to bed as soon as possible. Trying to stay awake beyond this point is inflicting upon yourself a most cruel form of torture. I don’t know how many of you have every been so tired that you are past the point of exhaustion and your body just begins to hurt all over. For me, my joints start aching, my muscles hurt, my eyes are burning, and acting normal becomes impossible. I’m upset with everyone who talks to me because they’re not letting me go sleep. At this point the brain ceases to function. It’s just not there. That is why I didn’t write anything. Because I would sit, in agony, typing a few measly words until in wretched despair I moved to the bedroom.

This is where commitment and integrity come into play. I made a goal, a commitment, to publish a blog post every day. Now, I could have said, “My word is my word! I will write no matter what!” and gone on to write a post that was so poorly written I would later regret it was on my website at all. Or I could recognize that, with the jet lag, I am in no condition to do my best or anything close to it. With that in mind, I have two options: stick to my goal no matter what or do my best. What should I do? I really have no answer to that. Last night, my decision was that I would rather do my best. I would rather create something of value, something I could stand behind, than for the sake of my word and my pride post something I didn’t like. I don’t take these things lightly because I really believe that when you set yourself a goal you make a commitment to yourself before anyone else.

So, at 4am this morning I was awake, at 5am I was writing, and at 6:30am I was editing. I can safely say this is much better than whatever atrocity I would have come up with last night. Even though I didn’t finish the post before going to bed, it was important that I make it a priority this morning. Even if no one reads it, I need to make my word matter to myself. If you can’t keep a commitment to yourself then you cannot feel good about yourself. I truly believe there is power in that. That’s why I was so conflicted last night. To write or not to write? Maybe life doesn’t always work this way, but when I evaluated my self and what was important to me in that moment, it was to do my best and my best meant to do it better when I was rested.