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Suppose that:

  1. You are leaving Home, travelling to Destination for 1-14 weeks, and then returning Home.

  2. Destination time is behind Home time by ≤ 6 hours (contra this). Obviously, this question is infeasible if the time zones differ by more time (e.g. you probably cannot go to bed at 5 PM (Destination time) = 11 PM (Home time)).

Does following Home's time zone (throughout your total duration at Destination) prevent jet lag?

7

Short answer: No, not entirely. Your sleep cycle might match the origin, but the environment around you won't. You've had years of getting used to the daily cycle, breakfast, lunch, dinner, darkness falls, and you sleep.

The key thing here is the darkness/light cycle. Your body is used to having the sunlight mean 'time to get up' and the pineal gland stops secreting melatonin to help with this. You trying to stay on your old time is all fine in your head as an ideal, but nobody told your pineal gland, and when that light comes, the melatonin production will slow, and indeed at night, will start.

As a result, you could take melatonin tablets when you want to go to sleep and see if that helps, but you're going to be fighting against your body's natural processes the whole time.

The usually quoted guide is it takes 1 day per hour of timezone difference to adjust to the new timezone (experience may vary), so if you're going for more than a week, it's probably going to be easier to try and adjust.

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I don't see you avoiding a timezone difference for fourteen weeks, even a small one.

What happens when your client/friend invites you to dinner that turns into a night out? Or you have to be up early for some ill-timed meeting/whatever it is tourists do before 11 am? Your whole system has gone to pot. (Okay maybe a tourist can do this if she really never has any pre-lunch commitments.)

For most people a few hours is not really a difficulty anyway, it's not much difference to having a late night or an early morning in your normal time zone. It's the ±>8 hours that really makes things difficult, but it's very hard to keep your sleep schedule the same when you are going to be ±8 hours out of sync with everyone and everything else.

On the daylight and natural light front, personally I don't think it makes any difference to my sleep cycle, given that I spend most of the waking day bathed in artificial light and in the winter arrive at work before dawn and leave after sunset. But that is my own observation.

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