Every summer there comes a very subtle turn-around point at which I feel like I lose control of time and slide all the way to Labour Day in a flurry of social outings, event celebrations, and trips. It usually falls somewhere around the middle of July, when I’m basking in the warmth of summer (or wondering when the all-too-short season will be visiting Canada) and thoroughly enjoying the relaxed pace of life my favourite season brings.
This summer was no exception. From the end of May to the end of August, I had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii (twice!), Nicaragua, and lastly, Los Angeles. Sprinkle in a few visits home (Montreal) within the 101-day span and by mid-August, I was walking around with stars circling my head wondering which end was up. Suffice it to say, my wanderlusting soul had a blast.
It was at that point in the second week of August, when I had just returned to Toronto (EST/GMT-4) from Maui (HAST/GMT-10) and was prepping for my trip to L.A. (PDT/GMT-7) in 10 days, that I finally got used to just not knowing where I was. Embracing the chaos seemed the only way to go about this time in between trips, but I had a jet lag game plan going in. How did I switch so many time zones in a short span of time? I embraced the jet lag (crazy, I know).
“Oh let not time deceive you, you cannot conquer time.” – W.H. Auden (As I Walked Out One Evening)
I decided to throw common sense away because the bulk of my time away would be west of Toronto, and as anyone who’s travelled knows, west is best for jetlag. Travelling east, your jetlag will smack you in the face while you are typing an email at your desk right before your 3pm coffee break. I once took a quick, standing power-nap over the filing cabinet after travelling east. True story.
Because I embraced the jet lag, I got the chance to experience a different side of Hawaii, the early morning side. Best of all, I wasn’t that far off my regular schedule to risk looking like a vampire. This was a double win for me as I’m not much of a morning person and the idea of lazing in bed and then witnessing the sunrise was something a. so very foreign to me, and b. so very recommended in Hawaii (sunrises ftw). But didn’t I get tired in the afternoon? Sure, I’d get a bit sluggish, but a quick nap kept me going well after sunset.
9pm Hawaiian Standard Time is 3am Eastern Standard Time, right? I just pretended I was out partying! *Sigh* Remember those days? (If those days were yesterday for you, then you really have no excuse not to embrace the jetlag) All I did to recoup the next day was let my body decide when it was time to wake up! (which was at 4:30am, an hour I had previously experienced only while headed home after a long night out on the town… I saw a few sunrises when I was in Hawaii)
The best part was this counterintuitive practice eventually got me adjusted to the local time (3 days!) so I felt rested and gradually enjoyed the later hours of the day sans afternoon nap. When I got home I was on a student schedule of waking up at 11am EST/5am HAST which made getting back to work interesting (case in point: travelling east is evil!) but then getting used to L.A. was a breeze. I may have been a bit confused as to my exact geographical location but that time zone thing was easy peasy. Jetlag: minimized.
Travelling East? Check out Rick Steves’ tips on how to adjust to European time
For the science behind jetlag, check out this article from the Washington Post.