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I will be traveling to a timezone 10 timezones ahead of mine. I need to be productive and work while I am there. I can't afford jet leg when I get there and then jet lag when I get back.

Is it ok for me to keep my home timezone sleeping pattern, essentially staying awake at night in the new timezone, and sleeping during the day in the new timezone? Someone told me this would severely mess me up.

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How long will you be there for? –  Mark Mayo Sep 15 '12 at 5:00
    
I will be there for 9 days. –  Richard DesLonde Sep 15 '12 at 6:21

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It all depends how long you're there for.

Anecdotally, many travellers will tell you it can take one day per hour difference - ie 10 days for 10 zones, to 'catch up'. In reality, it's different for each person, and when the flight is. In addition, it's generally harder flying east than flying west.

I recommend reading "How can I avoid or minimize jet lag" to help with that aspect at least.

If you're going for more than a week, I'd say use the new timezone - that is, sleep at night. The natural body's reaction to the sunlight in the morning is DEFINITELY going to be hard on you if you're trying to sleep during the day, but on the other hand, you may be not too bad with the jetlag.

Make sure to stay up the first day as late as you can, no matter what, until the sun has gone down at the very least. I've changed big zones many times (London to NZ), and this is the best rule. You'll be tired, but you'll get a good first night's sleep this way.

On the other hand, if you're only there for 2-5 days, you could consider keeping your zone, and hours, but any longer and use the new daylight. Above all else, listen to your body - if it's tired, you need sleep.

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Thanks Mark. I'm flying east, and will be flying overnight. –  Richard DesLonde Sep 15 '12 at 6:22
    
I'm just a bit scared...last time I did this, I was up for 48 hours traveling (missed connecting flight, had to wait an additional 20 hours for the next flight, and was too scared of missing the flight again that I stayed up the whole time. After the 48 hours travel, I couldn't sleep for more than a few hours at a time for several days, my whole rythm was messed up and so I'm just a bit nervous about this. –  Richard DesLonde Sep 15 '12 at 6:24

I think 3 hours is the most I would be prepared to be "out of sync", unless I was only going for a weekend. Presumably the reason you are traveling is to work with people in person, not to sit alone in your hotel room from 11pm to 7am local time getting in a full day's work, then head out for a little sightseeing and a few beers at 8am. (Or if it's the other direction, working from 7pm to 3am and then catching a few sights and activities.

You might be able to do some strange things like getting up 4 or 5 hours before you need to, doing some personal things, then working and going straight to bed, but you will miss out on the opening hours of most leisure things you might want, on the daylight to see the sights, and on the time of day they serve dinner in the restaurants.

Two tips for you. First, learn to sleep. You should sleep on planes. We've had some questions here on it, but it's mostly about equipment: pillows, lightweight blankets, ear plugs, noise cancelling headphones and a device that plays music, etc. Under some circumstances, you can also sleep in airports - bring your own alarm clock from home if you're afraid you won't wake up. In fact, learn to nap in general and how to wake up after a short one. This is something practice will make you better at.

Second, learn to adjust to a new timezone or start to pre-adjust before you go. Anxiety makes it worse, and can lead to some really bad decisions like staying up for 48 hours, so practice and get better at it and more comfortable at it.

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