I love waking up early. I love challenging the sun and facing it upright just as it shows its face from behind the clouds. But not even I enjoyed being wide awake at 2:45 am.
Well, my preferences didn’t matter, because the day after we landed in a timezone about 11:30 hours away from home, my system was so messed up that at two am in the morning, I felt as awake as I’d have felt at 1 pm at home.
Ah, the miracles of jet lag.
The weird thing about being jet lagged, though, is that for the most part of the flight, my symptoms were different from the rest of my colleagues. Sure, we were all up by 3 am, but while they were all hungry at odd hours and remained jet lagged for over three days, I was in and out of jet lag in less than 24 hours. Apart from being jealous, to everyone else, I was the elephant in the room—the only one comfortable with the drastic change in time.
When some of my colleagues heard that I’d be traveling over the seas, they all said the same thing: regardless of how drowsy I felt, I shouldn’t ever sleep before 11 pm on the day I land. That shouldn’t be too hard, I thought as I boarded my first plane to Dubai. It was an overnight flight starting at 4 am and no sooner had I gotten on that I yawned far and wide. A few minutes into the flight, however, I was still up. I couldn’t sleep even though my eyes drooped and my brain bored. By the time the sunrise became visible over the clouds, they had served breakfast and I felt active again.
It didn’t take long for me to to doze on an off, but I didn’t ever once fall into proper sleep. It hit me hard only when I landed in Dubai. It was a brief transit, and we spent no time looking around at the massive airport—something I regret to this moment. Our next flight was even longer: 15.50 hours.
The enormity of that flight dawned on me when I felt as if I’d spent 2 days on the plane when we had in fact flown only for an hour. But we made it through, and landed not as excited as I’d hoped I’d be, but thankful beyond expectation. In hindsight, though, the flight wasn’t too bad. But at that particular moment, I was glad my feet found land. I still wasn’t sleepy, though. It was only while in the cab with end-of-summer breeze whizzing past my ear that I realised how sleepy and tired I felt.
To ensure we didn’t sleep, our colleagues sponsored dinner and we spent a long night wolfing down fancy burgers and kickass milkshakes. When we called it a night, it was early in the morning back home. Tired as a log, I had a peaceful nap—until I woke up at 2:45 as fresh as a flower, cursing the colleague who predicted it. That afternoon, the weight of the sleepless nights came crashing down on me. And it didn’t help that I was in a boring meeting with sleep in my mind.
That night, things started falling into place. I fell asleep on time and awoke on time. From that day on, I’ve been one of the few to tolerate the time zone variation without a pill or pain.
And I couldn’t help but feel proud.