What it’s like to have permanent jet lag

permanent jet lag

I’m going to sleep like a log tonight.* Yep, I finally made it to the sleep doctor, and got the official diagnosis: I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. In other words, I have jet lag—but all the time.

I found out about this syndrome during a 3am Googling sesh back in November—and the second I read the description, it completely clicked. (OK, I burst into tears. Don’t laugh at me; being tired makes people emotional. Have you not read any Sylvia Plath?) But I was still cautious: we all know how easy it is to self-diagnose. WebMD is handy, but it’s also a dangerous little game; take it too seriously, and you’ll convince yourself you’ve got the bubonic plague.

So I decided to take it to the experts. And seriously, I got the expert. The doctor I was assigned turned out to be the scientist who discovered the damn syndrome. The dude knows what he’s talking about. And in his expert opinion, I have DSPS.

DSPS is when your circadian rhythm is out of whack with the rest of society’s, and most of us have had it at some point; it’s what’s going on when you’re jet lagged, and it’s what makes teenagers suddenly need to sleep all through the morning. But the majority of people grow out of it, while people like me are stuck on a funky cycle for the rest of our lives. So when I struggle to wake up to my alarm in the morning, it’s like I just got in from California.

Luckily, there’s a solution: melatonin at night, blue light in the morning, no Diet Cokes after 2pm (which is going to be a BIG challenge for a 10-a-day addict like me), and exercise strictly between 4–7pm. Fingers crossed, I’m about to become a whole new not-chronically-sleep-deprived me.

*Well, not tonight. Tonight I’m still up breaking all the rules on my laptop at midnight. Tomorrow night.