A new theory of jet lag

I warmed up a croissant in the microwave this morning at 4am, and served myself a glass of pineapple juice and a cup of tea as I watched the sky lighten from 4:30am. Now here I am at 5:15am, having paid a few bills online and done some reading, totally unable to sleep and suspecting I’ll need another siesta today around 4pm in order to get my sleeping patterns back into gear.

But I strongly suspect part of the problem with being unable to sleep has to do with the massive change in temperature I’m currently experiencing. For the last three weeks, I’ve experienced temperatures of sub 12°C, with the last week seeing temperatures of around 0° or 1° in the middle of the day, and wind chills which have turned the apparent temperature to -4° or -5°.

Last night, our minimum temperature was 23.4° about 5 minutes ago, and for most of the night it’s been 26° or 27°, but what actually matters is that the high humidity just this week in Brisbane has meant that the apparent temperature for most of the night has been hovering around 30°. Even now, the apparent temperature is 26.7°C.

I believe my body is just as shell shocked by the change of temperature as it is by the change of time. I simply *can’t* get cool without the air conditioner on, and then I dry out and am too cold by the blast of cool air across my shoulders. But since I opened the windows the air has been heavy with humidity, the crickets have been buzzing constantly since about 4:30am and the water birds are warbling to one another, desperate to feed and return to their leafy installations in tropical flora before the sun gets too hot, or before the next storm hits. (The forecast for today, incidentally, is “Fine and sultry”. They’re not kidding.)

I think the best thing for me is to just forge ahead for the day from now – go and have a shower and get the rest of my unpacking done, organise a few things, write several emails to contacts I made overseas and follow up with dozens of emails on matters here in Brisbane rather than try to fight the sleeplessness. I will get sleepy early tonight but so what? If I get home and to bed by 10pm and just try and stay as cool as possible during the day I think my body is likely to aclimatize a lot faster than if I tried to resist the temporal and climactic confusion I’m currently enduring.

But my theory remains: I think I have suffered less from jet lag when the difference in temperature between being home and being away is more moderate. A difference in apparent temperature of above 25°C will only ever heighten the effects of jet lag, and I suspect I’m going to suffer for quite a few days.

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