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dec 11

Is Jet Lag Always Worse Coming Home?

(Michaeljung/Dreamstime.com)

Jet lag can be a real bummer. I just got back from a ten-day trip to Spain, and right on cue, i'm jet lagged: tired by mid-day, waking up at odd and early hours, hungry at random times. Feeling these symptoms isn't surprising, per se, but what always gets me is how one-sided my jet lag experience is. Every time I travel abroad to Europe, my body adjusts perfectly—and rapidly—on the way there. But on the way home, I'm totally destroyed by jet lag for days.

My question: Is jet lag always worse from east to west? Is it always worse from your vacation spot to home? Or am I alone in my one-sided jet lag experience?

According to an August article in the New York Times, your body clock makes it more difficult to travel east. Steven W. Lockley, of NASA's fatigue management team, estimates that three-quarters of the population experience more jet lag when traveling eastward. The article also cites a study by neurologist Lawrence D. Recht, who found that Major League Baseball teams who had just completed eastward travel across a few time zones would give up more runs than usual—proof that you don't need a trans-Atlantic flight to feel the pressure of jet lag.

And according to an article in Forbes, jet lag is worse when you're traveling eastward, because you feel like you're losing time instead of gaining time. Simple enough explanation.

The studies directly contradict my own experiences, but perhaps it comes down to adrenaline and excitement. Who has time to feel jet lagged when you're starting a European vacation? Then again, when you get home and work and chores are looming, it's very easy to blame your lethargy on travel.

What do you think? Do you find yourself more jet lagged going east to west, west to east, or the same in both directions?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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