Beating Jet Lag (With Brass Knuckles If I Could)

Jet lag. I hate those two words, but they seem to find me several times a year and cuddle up beside me in bed while I stare at the ceiling at 3 am. I  returned recently from a 3 week trip abroad for work to Taiwan and South Korea. Since I’ve been back, my family, friends, and co-workers have all asked how my trip was and how I’m doing now that I’m back. My reply is usually that I am tired and grumpy because jet lag woke me up too early this morning,and that my body is confused so I ate the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich I was craving for breakfast. I discovered that many don’t know what jet lag is, because they haven’t traveled through time zones, so they don’t understand why I want to take a 5 hour “nap” or can’t go to bed until 4 am when I come back from a trip abroad. Please allow me to graciously explain so that you’re not offended next time jet lag causes me to snap at you. (No really, it’s not me!)

According to the Mayo Clinic, jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder when the body’s internal clock is confused about when it is time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep. Additionally, the body is confused about when it is time to eat.

If I arrive in Taiwan at 11 am, because of the 12 hour time difference, my body thinks it’s 11 pm and wants to go to sleep. When it’s 6 am and time to eat breakfast, my body thinks it’s 6 pm and dinner time and wants some pizza.

There’s also a general feeling of sickness. Many people compare it to having a hangover- a slight headache, nausea, a general feeling of unwellness. But imagine having a hangover for 2 weeks! Many sufferers also complain of stomach problems and difficulty concentrating.

Doctors say that it takes one day for your body to readjust for every hour of time zone change you go through. Taiwan was 12 hours ahead, and South Korea was 13 hours ahead, so it should take me about 2 weeks to fully get rid of my jet lag. I will admit that the first week is the absolute worst though.

Usually when I am on the trip, I do better with jet lag because I am there for a purpose, have things to accomplish, and am generally excited to be there. When I come home though and have to go back to the daily grind, it’s much harder to readjust.

So here are a few tips I have for beating jet lag.

– When you get to your destination, if it’s night, you must go to sleep even if you’re not tired. If it’s day, you must stay awake, even if you’re about to pass out. You need to get your internal clock adjusted to the time at your destination. This also means trying to take as few naps as possible, which trust me, is SO hard!

– Get as much sunlight as possible. This will help your body produce more melatonin to regulate cells in your body. It’s all very scientific. Don’t ask me the details; just get more sunlight!

– Cool it on the caffeine. Caffeine messes up sleep, so it’s no wonder this can enhance the symptoms of jet lag. Also, drink as much water as possible. Dehydration makes jet lag worse.

– Take sleep aids. But, be careful with this one. Usually for the first 2 or 3 nights I’ve crossed a considerable amount of time zones, I take a few Tylenol PMs or the like to help myself sleep through the night. If I don’t, I’ll wake up at 3 or 4 am no matter how tired I am. Doing this helps me sleep until at least 6.

Well, I’ve been back from my trip for about a week now. I’m still consistently waking up at 6 am, but at least I’m not taking naps at 7 pm anymore, because I just can’t keep my eyes open for a single second longer. I’ve been eating breakfast food for breakfast and dinner food at dinner time. I don’t feel nauseous for no reason, and I haven’t yelled at anyone today because I’m grumpy. I’d say I’m on the up and up!

Until next time, jet lag. Until next time.

United Airlines 777

Bowing Out

About 20 hours later, I have made it to Japan! It happened to turn into my birthday as we were flying, which was kind of strange. I didn’t really know if it was my birthday or not! It makes for a strange birthday when only 9 hours of it exist! (Well, 6 for me, because jet lag wouldn’t allow me to stay awake for the rest of those hours.) Well, at least I have had another Asian birthday!

I landed at the Tokyo Narita airport and already started the adventure! My first stop after stepping off the plane was the bathroom. I have always heard that Japan has crazy toilets. Well, it’s true! They have squatty pottys and western toilets as well. The first one I used was a western toilet.  I was literally in the stall with my hand over my mouth trying to stifle my laughter once I accidentally pushed the button for fake flushing sound. You could also have a water spray, a deodorizer, and a seat warmer.

Japanese Toilet

See all of the wonderful functions?

Japanese Toilet

And there’s more!

My contact here, Mr. M, picked me up from the airport,  along with his wife, and drove us to downtown Tokyo (the steering wheel is on the right side of the car and they drive on the left!) They both seem very sweet! They took me to dinner (we had a weird German-Japanese hybrid meal at a German restaurant), then took me to my hotel to settle in.

I haven’t been to a country for a while where they bow (Myanmar and Thailand being the last ones). It is neat to see! When we checked into the hotel,  it seemed Mr. M and the hotel manager would have a bowing contest to thank each other for allowing me to stay here. I myself have already bowed to my waiter and the lady that gives me my key at the hotel! I was watching Japanese tv this morning and at the end of the newscast they even “bow out”.

I slept from 9 pm- 5:30 am. That’s not too bad. (What was bad was only sleeping for 2 hours on the 12 hour flight, which made for 2 hours of sleep in 24 hours because of traveling.)

In a few hours, I will meet Mr. M for an orientation, and he’s going to show me how to use the subway (gulp!). I think I’m in for an interesting and exciting trip!

Attack of the Grumpy Flight Attendants

Stewardess, flight attendant, cabin crew. They exist to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers on a plane. Ever since airlines starting having flight attendants, they used them to their advantage. They had to be beautiful, unmarried women of a certain height and weight. In fact, in the 1960’s airlines really started to use their flight attendants to advertise and to attract customers. Ever watch the show Pan Am?

Flight Attendants in the 60's

(Image from Google)

However,  lately, I think flight attendants exist to be grouchy. They exist to yell at passengers and hate their job. Has anyone else noticed this? The last couple of flights I have been on, the flight attendants have literally yelled at people. That is definitely not “ensuring my comfort”! I hate to say it, but I think they are just old and tired of their job. Almost all flight attendants in the US are in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s. They probably began this job when they were 20 and it was the trendy and exciting thing to do and have been doing it for the past 30 years.

Flight Attendant

Don’t let the smile fool ya! (Image from Google)

When I flew to China in March, we had a fleet of grouchy 50 year olds. The flight was mostly Chinese people, and Chinese people travel quite differently than Americans. There was one particular flight attendant who made it her personal mission to yell at as many Chinese people as possible. I got so tired of hearing her say, “You can’t do that!”

I just flew from Little Rock, Arkansas back home, and we had a male flight attendant who was in his 40’s. You know how they don’t even bother to actually tell you the safety information themselves anymore but just play a recording? Well, during the recording, he stopped it and said, “Wow. Can you even pretend to be considerate for just a few minutes?” I didn’t think anyone was being particularly loud or rude. And really, who actually listens to that recording?

Flight attendants outside of the US are a different story. I actually love them! They are always sweet, helpful, and instill confidence. I have yet to see one of them yell at someone, and they have the “the customer is always right” attitude.   It is still a sought-after job overseas. They still have the 60’s vibe-they are dressed to the nines (where did that phrase come from anyway?!) with perfect hair and makeup and are usually young and beautiful. But, most importantly, they seem to enjoy their job, and that makes a huge difference.

China Eastern

China Eastern Airline Attendants
(Image from Google)

Gulf Air

Gulf Air Attendants from the Kingdom of Bahrain
(Image from Google)

So, I don’t know what to do about this problem, but I will continue to be as sweet as pie to these grumpy flight attendants and hope they’ll start do the same!

Have you had an encounter with a grumpy (or sweet) flight attendant?