Jetlag and daylight saving

Nothing quite like being up with a jetlagged toddler at 3 a.m. Alex has some ideas on that too…..

 

Being 12 hours jetlagged makes for a really mind-bending experience, and such experiences are very good subjects to describe!

For Walter, it’s actually pretty easy, because he has bi-phasic sleep. He sleeps twice a day, so his sleep schedule naturally allows for a 12-hour time change – his afternoon nap is longer and it’s dark outside, and his nighttime sleep is shorter and the sun is up. Not a big deal, actually, which is part of why Walter did fantastic in India and didn’t really get overly sleepy and cranky that first week.

For those of us with single-phase sleep, however, it’s a pretty massive jump. When we flew to India, the sun set on us twice during 12 hours. When we came back, it was in the sky for over 24 hours, which is even longer than the longest day on the north pole.

It so happens that we were in India during the US daylight saving time change, and the clocks don’t change in India. The stats: India is GMT +5:30. and Pacific is GMT -8:00 in the winter and GMT -7:00 in the spring. That means heading east, we stashed 13 hours and 30 minutes in the DST bank, and on our way home, they gave us back only 12 hours and 30 minutes. (I guess they charge some hidden fees!)

It doesn’t seem like you’d notice that one lost hour, if you were away when the clocks actually changed, and it was a week ago that it happened. Can we really tell the difference between a 12:30 mindwarp and a 13:30 one? I would have guessed we’d completely miss the usual DST-induced jetlag, just a bit of noise in the signal.

But here’s what Eva and I both felt this morning: the sun rose later than it should have. If you were here for the DST change, the clocks jumped ahead, so the clock also showed a late time when the sun rose. Are we actually feeling the daylight saving loss on top of the jetlag? Sunrise went from 6:30 in India to 7:20 here, so I think we’re confused by what the clock says, and the DST change actually matters. I guess you also feel the same way if you travel far east or west in China, where they have only one wide timezone.

It also was dark longer last night. We got up before dawn every day in Mysore and got used to how long it took to get light. In my case, I was always practicing at the yoga shala at dawn. Now that we’ve gone further North, the daylight time is 9 minutes less. That’s not much, and it’s hard to think that would have an effect, but maybe we’re feeling that too?

There are actually a lot of changes that contribute to the disorientation this morning. For one, we went back in time one season, from almost summer to almost spring. We forgot how to wear sweaters and Walter doesn’t seem to remember socks very clearly, not having seen them in a month. Life moves faster, everything looks perfect, everyone is white. There are no animals in the street except the ones on leashes, which means the cars are more dangerous when we cross the street (they go fast and expect no obstructions in the road).

Of course we really feel the day-became-night change. It’s just so unnatural to add an extra 1/2 rotation to the earth overnight. But there was so much travel (1am to 8pm yesterday plus 12:30 is 31.5 hours) that I was ready to sleep last night, and we slept a nearly normal amount. So I think we’ll make it up just as quickly as a return trip from London.

I guess my summary is: the culture change and the DST change seem just as disorienting this morning as losing a night and half of sleep and being on the opposite side of the Earth.

To add one more insight: even if you don’t ever travel, it was pretty strange for our bodies when they changed the start and end dates for DST. I want to think it’s spring now, because it used to be close to spring when the clocks changed. But it’s still not light for enough hours to be spring. So that’s one way the clock can mess you up.

PS: it was nice having the moon still behave the same in India. That and the same gravity was all that made it feel like we stayed on the same planet.

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