By: Blonde Two
‘I got rhythm, I got music
I got my man
Who could ask for anything more.‘
Thank you Mr Gershwin. Actually I haven’t got my man at the moment because we are on opposite sides of the globe; but I have finally got rhythm.
This doesn’t mean that I have been dancing around the farm to the beat of Kiwi drums (for the uninitiated, kiwis don’t actually have drums, they are birds). It means that I have finally sorted out my circadian rhythm and am no longer in the throws of jet lag.
The term circadian rhythm (who on earth decided to spell rhythm like that?) refers to changes that happen to most living things in a twenty-four hour cycle. The usual ones would be physical changes (e.g. being awake), mental changes (e.g. wishing that you weren’t awake) and behavioural changes (e.g. burying your head under the pillow).
Most animals don’t find themselves in a situation where their circadian rhythm is turned on its end. This only happens to humans, who are silly enough to travel to the other side of the world. This upturning of rhythm is what causes jet lag; a heinous experience (well maybe heinous is too strong) that can leave you disorientated, lacking in sleep and over-emotional. Jet lag can be so severe for some people that it can also cause stomach problems including diarrhoea (this is probably called jet-poo).
Cue picture of Two Blondes making sure that their circadian rhythms are in order.
I seem to suffer particularly badly from jet lag, so I am glad that it is over for this trip. Tips for dealing with it include: 1. Light management – make sure that you have bright lights during the day, dim lights in the evening and no lights at all at night. This sounds simple, but even turning the bedside light on to check the clock can cause circadian confusion (Blonde term). 2. Eating meals at the times that your new time zone dictates. For example, if you usually scoff a bag of Jelly Babies just before you go to bed, do so while you are away as well. 3. Avoiding napping during the day. This can be tricky, I caught myself swaying with sleepiness whilst standing talking to some very lovely NZ people the other day. I seriously contemplated just falling over and sleeping on the spot. 4) There is a sleep hormone supplement called Melatonin, this has worked well for me in the past; but is definitely something that you should talk to your doctor about, and is difficult to get hold of in the UK.
If you are planning an overseas trip, don’t let the possibility of jet lag put you off; but I would recommend factoring it into your plans.
Circadian rhythms are not fixed throughout the 24-hour cycle, though in my opinion, each cycle adds up to the same total of activity/inactivity. Thus, when I started getting up at 06.25 because I suspected I could concentrate better on writing at that time of the day (You would agree, wouldn’t you? I’m doing it now.), the temptation to doze, post-brunch, grew. This was not a bad thing. There is nothing more seductive than knowing you want to doze while simultaneously realising – post-retirement – there is no reason why you shouldn’t. Doesn’t apply to you of course.
Jet-lag is a real bugger. If I left NZ at the week-end it stayed with me until Thursday. Never be tempted to go to NZ “the wrong way” – ie, via Los Angeles. Jet lag lasts even longer.
Oops! It was LA for a certain Air Nz comfy seat, Still feeling a bit misplaced.