Letter from Felixstowe: The Continuing Joys of Jet Lag


Flying from the U.S. east coast to Europe causes the most severe jet lag for me, worse than, say, flying from the U.S. or UK to Australia.

The journey across the Pond takes a mere 6-7 hours, with most flights leaving at night. London is five hours ahead of New York, so a flight leaving NYC at 7pm,  when it’s midnight in London, arrives around 6 or 7am UK time, when the body thinks it’s 2am — notwithstanding the cabin crew serving orange juice, coffee and breakfast in an attempt to trick you into thinking it’s morning.

As described in my Jet Lag Jambalaya post, the direction flown often is a key factor in the severity of jet lag. Flying west and ‘gaining time’ generally produces less jet lag than flying east; I’ve read that senior airline staff prefer western-bound flights. We definitely find flying west easier, with the kind of jet lag that results in waking before dawn and feeling sleepy soon after dinner. It always seems easier to readjust that way.

Flying east, on the other hand, means ‘losing’ time – resulting in the body wanting to sleep until lunchtime and then being wide awake until 3 or 4am, when it’s starting to get light this time of year in England.

This week, despite forcing ourselves to get up by 8am, being out and about getting natural light during the day and trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour – we’ve yet to overcome the lingering effects of jet lag.

Over the years we’ve learned jet lag is a powerful force and sometimes the body clock takes its sweet time to get back into the local time zone. I know it’s not the end of the world to be in this situation, but we’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep sooner rather than later.

We’ve more or less caught up on the practical tasks of returning home, but back in New Jersey, my mother’s leg wound is slow to begin healing. This is also keeping me awake at night, worrying as I do about how she’s doing (fine, she tells me) and if the medical team are doing everything they can to prevent infection and care for her (I believe they are). I’m thankful to know I’ll see her again in a couple months, unless she needs me before then. In which case … flying west.

Wishing everyone a good night’s sleep and sweet dreams wherever you may be.


Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.

4 Responses

  1. What you say about East vs West, gaining time vs losing time makes sense. We don’t suffer Jet Lag to badly flying from Australia to England. But get bad jet lag flying home. I must say the one thing I’ve found worse than suffering jet lag, is suffering jet lag with 3 kids who are also suffering jetlag. For some reason they all are awake at different times throughout the night, which results in the parent being awake ALL night and not being able to get over their jet lag. Ah the joys of travelling to different time zones LOL

  2. Jen, that’s a challenge!

    The only thing I offer is that as the kids get older they get better at amusing themselves eg making snacks, reading, whatever — without waking up the parents. Or maybe that’s a fantasy when you have three …

    Looking forward to seeing all five of you later this year 🙂

  3. Totally agreed about jet lag. It takes me 9 days to adjust to France’s time because there is 9 hours difference between the West Coast and France. It is just awful and it is one of the main reason why I don’t go to Europe much anymore. Coming back, it takes me 2 days. Hope all is well in your world. I have so catching up to do as I don’t read too many blogs anymore. Have a wonderful summer!

  4. Hi Nadege! Great to ‘see’ you and thanks for your comment. I hear you … it really does take that much time to adjust.

    Can’t stay away from Paris — happily, living in the UK means we’re only a 2-1/4 hr. train ride away and only a 1-hr. time difference.

    Cheers and all the best to you for lovely summer in LA!

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