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Wednesday
Feb232011

Sleep, Jetlag, Coffee, Alcohol, Water and Mosquitoes 

There is a mosquito in my office and I’m not sure whether it is real or just my imagination. I’m delirious from irregular sleep. The insect appears silently, floats about and then vanishes. The space is fairly empty—only a desk, several chairs and a filing cabinet, so there isn’t anywhere to hide. Perhaps it is a delusion. 

Never have I had such terrible jet lag. Several days into this trip and my mind and body are still not adjusted to the 8-hour time difference. I feel drugged. Thoughts spin about, and I’m open to the slightest distraction. That, or I’m hyper-alert.

The error I made was in taking a nap after arriving, at about 3pm in the afternoon. I should have forced myself to stay awake until the night. This has been compounded by a constant workflow here and from Washington, drafting and redrafting documents and proposals. I’ll be in the office until 8 or 9pm, return to the hotel and work intermittently for another couple hours.

Usually it only takes a day. When I traveled to Bora Bora last fall, I did not have jet lag either going or returning—and that was a 10-hour difference. Now it seems no matter what I do I cannot find a rhythm.

Yesterday, I was awake for more than 22-hours, on the heels of less than four hours of sleep. Last night I fell into a deep sleep quickly, but then was wide-awake a couple hours later. It felt like I slept an entire night. When I saw that it was 3am, frustration overwhelmed me. I lay for the rest of the morning alternating between staring at the ceiling, watching videos on my iPad and writing. By the time my alarm went off at 7am, I dozed off again for two hours, and then could barely shake myself awake.

Plenty of water, along with the right doses of coffee and alcohol, do the trick normally. Here those ingredients are skewed. The coffee seems stronger, and I tend to drink too much of it. And there’s no alcohol, which can induce sleep quickly. I tried drinking one of the fake beers they have in the mini-fridge, in an effort to fool my brain. My friend ML says this is an effective tactic. I found it to be disgusting—a frothy rice drink that left a terrible taste in my mouth.

For now I catch mosquitoes…out of the corner of my eye. At least I haven’t begun itching, the result of real mosquitoes. I’m only twitching, the result of imaginary ones. 

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