Over the three-and-a-half weeks of Sleep Challenge 2010, I've faced numerous challenges in meeting my sleep goal. But this week has presented me with perhaps the toughest obstacle of all: the travel week from hell.
Starting this past Monday and continuing until late Sunday, I'm spending more time in planes and airports than George Clooney in Up in the Air. And in the process, I'm wreaking havoc on my newly improved sleep regimen.
A quick check online lays out the consequences of messing with the primal forces of one's Circadian rhythm. According to Medicinenet, a case of jet lag can lead to "anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, sweating, coordination problems, and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness." Other than that, Ms. Huffington, how are you enjoying your week? It's enough to make you swear off flying across multiple time zones.
Unfortunately, teleportation is still reserved for Kirk, Spock, and the other members of Starfleet Command. So, on Monday, I caught a midday flight from Los Angeles to Toronto, three time zones away. I landed around 5pm body clock time -- but it was suddenly 8pm for everyone around me. When everyone else was ready for bed, I was still wide awake. But I knew I needed to try to get to sleep, since I had to be up bright and early the next day.
I was only mildly successful, and ended up getting less than my optimal 8 hours. My wake-up call came before my body was ready, and I got out of bed feeling much less refreshed than I'd gotten used to feeling over the last few weeks.
I hoped to make up for the missed sleep by fitting in an hour of meditation or a quick power nap on Tuesday, but between a full schedule of appearances, TV interviews, and business meetings (where the possibility of a Canada section on HuffPost was discussed), the downtime never materialized. Plus, I was staying with friends and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. Another night of less-than-hoped-for sleep followed.
Wednesday started with a very early flight to Chicago, one time zone behind Toronto. It too was followed with a full day of speeches, HuffPost meetings, and post-State of the Union TV interviews.
But my hellish travel week is just kicking into high gear. Thursday morning I begin the 15-hour journey taking me from Chicago to Washington to Zurich to Davos, to take part in this year's World Economic Forum. Davos is 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles, but who knows what time my internal body clock will think it is by then.
After a very full Friday in Davos, and a Saturday morning panel discussion for CNBC, I'm set to drive from Davos to Zurich to catch a flight back to D.C. -- praying for my 8 hours before Sunday morning's roundtable taping on ABC's This Week. Barbara Walters is guest hosting, Scott Brown is her main interview, and I'm taking part in a discussion with George Will, Paul Krugman, and Roger Ailes. Straight from the studio, I go to the airport to fly to L.A. in time to have dinner with my daughter. Phew. I'm feeling exhausted just typing that up!
So what am I going to do to avoid the above list of symptoms?
For starters, I'm going to follow all the anti-jet lag rules I can, including drinking as much water as possible, avoiding sugar and caffeine (not sure how well I'll do with that last one... do they have Starbucks in Switzerland?), moving around the plane as much as space and security restrictions will allow, stretching when I can, and, above all, sleeping on the plane for as long as I can with the help of my meditation music and tapes.
So, what else do you think we should do to minimize jet lag and the upsetting of our sleep patterns? I'm open to any and all tips and helpful hints.
Time for me to board!