It’s now been exactly a week since I landed back in England, and I still don’t feel able to do a retrospective post about my year abroad. It would be difficult to put down in words exactly what the people I met and the experiences I’ve had mean to me, and I hope that doesn’t seem too much like a cop-out! Maybe one day I’ll be able to reflect in a coherent way about Texas, but right now it doesn’t seem possible.
This first week in the United Kingdom has been a quiet one, and apart from spending some time catching up with friends and family and unpacking I have not done too much. What I have been, however, is severely jet lagged. My flight left Toronto airport after a stressful connection at 9.25pm local time, and landed just before 10am British time in London. It would have been perfect if I could have slept, but my inability to sleep on the flight meant I didn’t adjust to the time zone on the flight. This combined with the fact you can’t get melatonin supplements in the UK, and the fact that in the past two weeks I have traveled through six different (but not distinct) time zones means that I have been well and truly jet lagged.
Symptoms of jet lag include tiredness, confused behaviour and poor cognition, and depression or irritability. Although I have experienced it before, I have not been jet-lagged this severely for this long before. It’s been a week, as I said, and I’m not completely ‘over it’ yet. I think this is because on a two week long, or slightly longer, holiday your body does not adjust to the new time zone completely. However, in nine months by body had well and truly adapted to central time which has made it all the more difficult to adjust. I also generally find jet lag worse when returning home compared to travelling to America.
With that being said, here are some trips to combat jet lag for any international students coming from far afield to begin at the University of Leicester in September!
- Adapt to a new sleep schedule
When you get off the flight, the first temptation is to nap. However, it’s very important for you to stay up until an at least ‘reasonable’ bed time local time when you arrive. That will lessen jet lag more than taking naps when you land will. Wake up at a usual time the next morning, and continue from there. It will make the process so much quicker!
- Get some sunlight
If you feel sleepy when you wake up, taking a brisk walk outside in direct sunlight will help your body ‘wake up’ and adapt to the new time. Taking a short walk will refresh you if you’re flagging.
- Stay hydrated
I know I give this as advice for almost everything, but it’s true! Dehydration can be a symptom of jet lag, but keeping hydrated can lessen the symptoms of the condition too!
- Eat at regular meal times
Eating at your usual meal times can help your body adjust more quickly, so try not to snack no matter how hungry you are when / if you wake up in the middle of the night or early morning.
All this being said, I wish all new international students to Leicester the best of luck beating jet lag but I’m not a doctor (plus jet lag is different travelling West to East compared to the other way around) so if you have any concerns consult your doctor or use the internet to find specific advice!
Until next time, Courtney