When our plane left London, it was 4 pm GMT on Friday afternoon, and 4 am New Zealand time. When we arrived in Wellington, it was about 10.30 am Sunday morning, and would have been 10.30 pm Saturday evening, except for the fact that the UK and Europe ended Daylight Savings Time during my flight. So we had moved as far as you can on the planet in terms of time zones. And adjusting to that takes some time.
They say that it is easier to adjust to flying west, not east. That’s true. Flying to Asia (west) is usually easier than flying home (east). I also think it has a lot to do with the fact that flying west usually means you fly during the day, arrive in the evening, and then have a full night’s sleep, even if you find that you’re going to sleep about 4-5 hours later than usual. Whereas flying home is usually an overnight flight, with broken or no sleep, and arriving first thing in the morning. Adjusting to the sleep deprivation as well as the time zone change is, well, unpleasant.
They say that it takes one day per time zone (or hour) for your body to fully adapt. That means all those people who blithely say “I never suffer from jetlag” or insist that they alone know the secret to adapting, don‘t know what they’re talking about. I’ve travelled across time zones a lot for business, and I’ve tried a lot of so-called solutions. Sometimes they work and that’s great. Sometimes they don’t. I usually ignore the sleeping advice, taking the view that when in the air for any length of time “any sleep is good sleep.” That has served me well. Getting sun and exercise, and eating at the appropriate time for the local time zone both help. But they don’t eliminate jet lag.
And when your body has to flip its schedule completely, east/west issues are irrelevant. And it takes time. We’ve been pretty lucky. Not too many sleepless nights. Forcing myself not to nap in the middle of the day helps. But I’ve certainly endured that energy-sapping, eyelid-drooping jet lag fatigue every day around 11 am, and I’ve woken up unnaturally early (for me). It’s easing now though. We’ve been home for over a week. And I’m starting to sleep in.