I’m suffering from desynchronosis.
That’s just the fancy name for jetlag…one of the fascinating things you learn when you are up at 3:30 in the morning because you have jetlag.
After travelling tens of thousands of kilometres across 12 time zones and the international date line, it was to be expected that my circadian rhythms would be a bit out of whack. But I didn’t quite expect to find myself day after day wide awake in the middle of the night. I don’t recall being this jetlagged after my last trip to India, but that was 11 years ago and apparently jetlag tends to get worse as we age – another fun fact I discovered in my nocturnal google searches.
This jetlag felt like my body and mind were somehow disconnected –sort of like a Star Trek transporter experience gone wrong – that Captain Kirk had said “Energize”, but some parts of me didn’t quite make it back to the Enterprise and were still floating out in space.
Initially my plan was to simply power through it.
Taking the google advice on managing jetlag, I would force myself to stay awake in the late afternoon and evening so that I would go to sleep at a normal bedtime. Apparently my body had other plans.
In the late afternoon, or on good days in the early evening, the grogginess started rolling in like a fog and before I knew it I would fall into a deep sleep. Then I would wake up with great confidence that I had slept until the morning, only to look at the clock and see that it was only 3 am.
After a few days of unsuccessfully trying to compel myself to overcome jetlag, I knew I needed another approach.
So I decided embrace a fundamental mindfulness concept.
Accept what is.
Apparently it takes your body at least one day for every time zone it crosses to resync your circadian rhythms. That meant I probably needed 2 weeks to get myself sorted out. I had to accept that my body was actually in control.
That was the first step.
The second was accepting that I was going to be awake at 3:30 in the morning so I might as well get up and start my day.
That’s when I discovered the upside of jetlag.
Being an early riser is a good thing.
There’s a lot of anecdotal support for being an early riser. Many highly successful people are part of what is called the “5 a.m. club”. They routinely get up very early and begin their day. Some people take that even further – Apple CEO Tim Cook apparently wakes up at 3:45 a.m.
Now I am quite certain that every successful person does not jump out of bed before sunrise, but there are some distinct advantages to doing just that.
I never imagined that my experience of accepting and embracing my jetlag-imposed early start to the day would have some real benefits:
First it is really quiet early in the morning. There is something about being alone in the darkness that creates a sacred space in which you can connect with yourself before you start connecting with others in your day. I’ve long been a fan of setting morning intentions but in this early hours quiet space they seem even more powerful.
Next there are a lot fewer interruptions. Let’s be honest – that is because most people you know are not out of bed yet. Fewer interruptions mean you are actually able to get a lot of stuff done because no one is distracting you. You can pick one thing and give it your undivided attention. The only one interrupting you is you.
And with more time available and less spent rushing around, you just might be more productive. It’s amazing what you can get done in the few hours before the rest of the world is moving. You actually have time to do things you don’t normally feel like you have time to do. I checked all kinds of things off my to-do list that I normally try to avoid. Maybe you would find the time to exercise, meditate, do some meal prep, write in a journal, or any one of a number of things you can’t currently fit into your day.
I’m fortunate that my pre-jetlag lifestyle already allows me a lot of flexibility in my morning routine. But I have to say I’ve been persuaded that being an even earlier riser makes a great deal of sense.
The trick for me will be maintaining an early start once the jetlag wears off. I’m pretty sure it won’t be 4 a.m. but 5 a.m. might be worth the effort.
What about you?
If you got up an hour earlier every day, you would reclaim 15 days in a year. Imagine what you could do with 360 extra hours.If you got up an hour earlier every day, you would reclaim 15 days in a year. Imagine what you could do with 360 extra hours. Click To Tweet
Here’s the key – you have to ease into it. Unless you want to try my jetlag system and cross multiple time zones, begin by shifting when you go to be and when you get up in small increments. Remember you can’t get up earlier without going to bed earlier.
I’ll admit that deciding to wake up early requires a both a mindshift and a lifestyle change. Based on my highly unscientific but real life experiment, I’d say it’s definitely worth the trip.
What are your thoughts about being an early riser?