Why Manage Fatigue when You can Prevent it?

Monthly Archives: February 2015

Staying on Top of Jet Lag

What is Jet Lag? It can be described in many ways but it seems most commonly to be that feeling of being tied and “out of sorts” for a day or even several days after a long flight. Some feel it traveling from Sydney to Perth. Some need a longer trip to feel Jet Lag.

This is a topic of great interest to me because at least 7 times a year, I travel from Melbourne to the East Coast of the USA. Sometimes the trip lasts over 30 hours.

So you can imagine the number of times people say something like “How do you cope with the Jet Lag?” to me.

It is a fair question but my genuine answer is “I don’t experience it.”
I follow a simple routine. On the flights over, we fly Melbourne to Los Angeles at about 11:30am. The flight takes about 15 hours so I am in LA by about 2:00am Melbourne time. So really, there is not much of my normal sleep cycle tied up in that so, apart from a few brief naps, I catch up on a lot of movies and do some work.

Of course these days you can plug your computer into a power outlet on the plane and get internet access. So there is nothing holding you back from doing all manner of work, or socialising and making Skye calls.

By the time I get to the East Coast, it is late evening and I most often just go to bed and get up the next morning, go for a run and get to work.

Flying back, we fly out of Los Angeles at 10:30pm which is close to my retiring time, so I tend to watch a movie and go to sleep for 7-9 hours. When I land in Melbourne, I got to work for the day and resume my normal routine. I always fly Premium Economy, which is basically economy with a little more leg room.

But some look at me and say, “But I couldn’t do that. I’d be a wreck.” And there was a time when I too would be a wreck from this. And it was this situation of feeling like a wreck that led me to get interested in it and learn what was happening.

So I started out making sure I was always well hydrated. That certainly helped. But it was not the key. Sitting on a plane one day, feeling tired, restless, uncomfortable and cantankerous, I asked myself why I was feeling this way and when I had felt this way in the past. My attention literally went straight back to those long drawn out and often boring afternoons sitting in school.

Remember that feeling? I would sit there watching the clock, yawning, fighting to stay present, willing that clock to move faster. And I realised, I never felt that way on the weekends. I never had that feeling of “afternoon fatigue” on weekends. A clue!

So in that moment, I realised that I was totally bored and completely resisting the situation. Here I was, sitting on the plane, desperately not wanting to be sitting on the plane. I was having an internal tug of war with myself that I could not win. No wonder I felt completely exhausted by the end of it.

So I stopped and asked myself, “What would happen if I stopped and chose to enjoy this experience?” So I sat there and wrote down all the good things about it. The list went something like this:

  • I get to watch lots of movies which I never normally do.
  • I can doze off whenever I want to.
  • I can do lots of Sudoku puzzles.
  • I can go for a walk down the back and chat to some folks.
  • Nobody can harass me here or demand anything of me.
  • I am completely at peace here….no demands!
  • No phone to answer!
  • I can catch up on some reading.

The list got longer and longer and I started to lighten up and enjoy the experience.

These day, I look forward to the flights. They are my scheduled “Time out” and boy do I love it. When I land, I am full of beans and ready to ‘rock and roll’. No Jet Lag.

You know, there are always many ways to look at a problem.

Keep up the great work you are doing in your life.