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Never Recovered From Jet Lag

by Reed
(London + Los Angeles)

This article describes very well the condition I have had for years, recently exacerbated by moving from California to London for a study abroad program in college. It is as if I never recovered from the Jet Lag 8 hour time difference. Of course, I was a late sleeper (night and morning) before, but it seems like I was only a few hours off everyone else, going to bed at 1 or 2 am and getting up at 8:30 or 9. That was perfectly acceptable in a college environment, although annoying to my parents when I visited home (especially my father who goes to bed no later than 10pm and gets up at 5am).

Anyway, after coming here I have been consistently plagued by an inability to fall asleep, or stop activity like reading or watching TV, before 4 or 5 am (6am sometime) and dragging myself out of bed for a class at noon. I have occasionally forced myself to get up/ fall asleep on a regular schedule, so I know I am not still suffering normal jet lag. But every weekend I instantly relapse to a ridiculous sleeping pattern that ruins the following week.

For me it seems sleep discipline, which I desperately want, is the one thing where my willpower is totally out of control. I can convince and lecture and punish myself mentally all day, assuring myself that getting up early would be a virtue, and take elaborate steps like multiple alarms and notes to my "morning self", but when that after-midnight part of the day sets in, or when I am facing an alarm clock ringing in the morning, a whole different animal takes over. I am totally unable to tell myself to go to bed, and even if I get there, I am driven to find a distraction rather than tortuously lay there and stare at the ceiling for hours.

Every few weeks, it culminates in a "crash" where I may stay up all night, and either face a miserable groggy day, or fall asleep in mid-afternoon and spend the next few days on what I call "China Time", being completely out of sync with any time zone I've ever lived in.

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