HOT BLAST: A losing battle with the sun
Oct 24, 2013 | 1240 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
"The term jet lag was coined in about 1966; before that, a slow boat across the Atlantic or a horse ride across Asia allowed humans to adjust gradually to their new surroundings (internal clocks can adjust by approximately one hour per day)," writes Cara Parks. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
"The term jet lag was coined in about 1966; before that, a slow boat across the Atlantic or a horse ride across Asia allowed humans to adjust gradually to their new surroundings (internal clocks can adjust by approximately one hour per day)," writes Cara Parks. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
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Cara Parks explores what happened when she indulged in "circadian desynchrony," which, as described in her article, means she was "estranged from the solar day."

The aim was to travel abroad while remaining on U.S. East Coast time. In other words, to defy jet lag and the signals sent by the sun that a traveler needed to adjust to the rising and set of the sun. It might be noon in Lisbon, but she treated it like early morning on the East Coast.

That first day in Lisbon, I eventually fell into a light sleep. From then on, my body fought me with increasing urgency as each day passed, prodding me awake when sunlight began to filter through the curtains, no matter how recently I’d gone to sleep. The jet lag originally made it relatively easy to stay on East Coast time (rising at local noon and staying up until dawn), but that quickly faded as my circadian rhythms scrambled to adjust to solar time. I would become extremely tired at strange points in the day, and almost always had to take a nap by about 11pm. During my mornings (Lisbon’s afternoons) I was disoriented and short-tempered. Meals were difficult to schedule and we often skipped them, relying on snacks and coffee when eating at midnight felt too unappetising. I began to gain a little weight and was put on a mild antidepressant. And always, I found myself waking slightly earlier and fighting off sleep a little earlier every day.

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