Friday, August 13, 2010

The W's of Reading: Why Reading Causes Jet Lag

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Monday night, I took an overnight flight back to the mainland from Hawaii.  I had enjoyed lots of sunshine, sleep, water, and good food while I was there, but NOTHING prepared me this year for the bone-jarring jet lag that set in!

Like many of us, I love to travel and have faced jet lag after trips to Australia or even Greece.  It has always taken me a day or two of sleeplessness to kind of get my "mojo" back, but this time is way different.  Why then was this time so different?  That is the question I've been asking myself and have come to the conclusion that I can blame most of it on reading.  Yep, reading.

Here are the things I vow not to do next time I travel:
  • Read until 2 am for the two weeks prior to a trip.  Hawaii is four hours behind MST, so I was essentially going to bed at 6 am!  No wonder I can't go to sleep now that I'm back.
  • Get so sucked into a book that I don't sleep even for five minutes on an overnight flight.  Next time, I will find a way to FORCE myself to put the book down and get a little shut eye before landing. 
  • Use reading as a way of nodding off at "normal" bed time here.  Why?  It doesn't work!  It's still terribly early to my internal clock, and although I'm bone tired, my brain is fully engaged and willing to keep reading.
  • Finally (not related to reading), not schedule early morning appointments once I get back.  I always used to just jump right back into the schedule of the place I traveled to, but this has only made me more tired, and ready for a good nap about mid-morning.  
Yes, I have had a little extra time to read, but it has been semi-miserable time.  This newly initiated jet lag pansy now sees that the bone-jarring fatigue, low-grade headache, and semi-queasy nausea that has tagged me for four days now just might not be worth it!  Next time I travel, I will PUT THE BOOK DOWN and try to get a little sleep.

Has reading ever caused you jet lag?  Any advice for the newly titled "Jet Lag Pansy" that I now claim for myself?


  1. Jet lag can be brutal! Try to get as much sunshine as possible - it helps re-set your internal clock. Hang in there!

  2. Yes, it has about killed me! I'm still not able to fall asleep before about 2 am. I think you're right though. I need to head out into the sunshine and try to wake up! :)

  3. Hi! There's an award for you at
    Thanks, Dianne

  4. Those red-eye flights from Hawai'i weren't so bad when I was a teenager, but I was a lot more resilient then. I've got one scheduled for February and I'm not looking forward to it.

    I have one of those big inflatable lap pillows, and it has helped me sleep on a couple of shorter early-morning flights. Hopefully that will do the trick on the over nighter.

    Reading doesn't keep me up nearly as much as it used to, because my eyes refuse to focus and then trying to read is kind of moot at that point.

  5. I've never NOT read when traveling internationally, but I don't think it's contributed to jet lag. My last trip I decided to have no caffeine on the travel did the trick! I had NO jet lag coming back.

  6. I just got back from Southeast Asia Friday morning at 5am.. I am dying. Had to go to work this morning for a wonderful faculty meeting & I am struggling to stay awake today. I have NEVER been sick with jet lag before & I've been to Europe three times! Tylenol Pm, SUNSHINE, and caffeine for me for the first few days.. Today is my first day with no caffeine...We opened all of our windows before we went to bed last night & the sun woke me up this morning. I should be back up & running by next Wednesday hopefully. uh, because that's when I have students!

  7. I can't read while I'm on a plane. Too many distractions. And it usually takes me a good week to get settled to the point where I can just sit down with a book and read for long periods.

    So to answer your question... no. :)

  8. Ordinary Reader--Thanks Dianne! I am really bad about getting to these rewards!!! Please don't hate me if I forget. :(

    Don--Thanks for the empathy. I really struggled this time around, and wish I would have taken more time before I left Hawaii to adjust back to this time zone!

    Ronnica--Sigh. I stayed away from caffeine as well, but it didn't seem to matter. Honestly, I have no clue why it was such torture this time around, but it literally took me almost two weeks to get over my jet lag! Torture.

    Erin--Good luck adjusting! I'm glad to hear that it's not just me though. It can be pure torture, especially when you're so tired.

    Heidenkind--That's sad you can't read on the plane! That is one of my best reading environments. Isn't that weird?!?