I don’t think I had jetlag going to or returning from China, a fact which I am recording here just so people reading this can know that it is not inevitable.
I left Seattle at 2 p.m., spent 11-plus hours on the plane and arrived in China at about 1:30 a.m. body time, or 4:20 p.m. China time. I’d slept a bit on the plane, so I wasn’t all that tired, and I went to bed and to sleep at about 10 p.m. China time.
The next morning I awoke at 4:30 a.m., which was quite nice because I had time to drink tea and do qigong before beginning my tourist day and because the Chinese Internet worked reliably at that hour. I was happy to be tired enough to go to bed at 8:30 or 9 since I didn’t have anything much to do at night.
Is that jetlag? I don’t think so.
People had told me that actually, the worst jetlag would be coming home. I left Beijing at 5:30 p.m. and arrived in Seattle at 12:30 p.m. the same day—technically, before I had left, but at about 3:30 a.m. body time. I had slept a little on the plane—very little—so I thought, well, I’ll tough it out until maybe 8 p.m. Seattle time so I can get my body back on schedule. I got involved in e-mail, didn’t go to bed until past 10 p.m. and woke before 9 the next morning. I wasn’t tired that day and resumed a more or less usual schedule.
So much for jetlag.
But what I did experience, but have never heard anyone talk about, was climate lag.
When I left Seattle on Oct. 11, we were experiencing a sort of Indian summer (which ended the day after I left). In Beijing, it sprinkled only once, and I rarely wore my light jacket. In Chengdu, it also sprinkled only once, and there, too, I rarely wore my jacket. Additionally, Chengdu was considerably farther south than either Beijing or Seattle, even farther south than San Diego, so the days were long.
When I got home to Seattle, it was cold and wet and gray. It took several days, but between coming down from the high energy/high stress of my trip and suddenly finding myself solidly into the season when I’d normally begin dealing with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), life abruptly got difficult.
I have read that jetting around from one time zone to another can be very hard on the body. But what about jetting around from one climate to another as well? Was it just me, or do other people have difficulty? How do those jet-setters do it, anyway? I’d like to know.