Somehow; by the grace of Tylenol PM, sugar-free Red Bull, and possibly some unicorn horn powder sprinkled by a magical elf upon my lucky, lucky head; I did not have ANY jet lag on this trip.
Usually, traveling 20+ hours with a frantic layover in Heathrow (which I swear haunts me in my nightmares - I'm running through endless hallways trying to find gates that don't exist in terminals that you can only get to by taking two commuter flights and a U-boat) through eight time zones leaves me fractured shell of a human being. I spend the first few days feeling jelly-legged and feverish, with the overwhelming urge to fall asleep only to be met with a racing heart and wide-dry-eyes the moment my head hits the pillow.
But thankfully, and I cannot tell you how happy this makes me, Etihad airways now has a direct flight from DC to Abu Dhabi. A shuttle picked me up at my doorstep in Baltimore, and a mere 20 hours later The Gentleman picked me up at the airport in Abu Dhabi where I arrived fresh as a daisy after a 13-hour flight where I not only watched that Seth Rogan-Barbara Streisand film but also got a few hours of work done, had a 3-hour nap, and decided that I don't like 'Mike and Molly' after three episodes of trying to be open-minded.
Here's the key, I think- I only slept for 3 hours, and then woke up and "started my day" with coffee. I drank so much water on the flight that the crew member handed me the giant bottle of water and told me I could keep it so he didn't have to keep refilling my cup. I had two glasses of wine with "dinner" and a beer with "lunch". I followed every rule of what you are supposed to do to avoid jet lag, and somehow it worked.
I stayed up until midnight the night I arrived, and popped out of bed at 730 the next morning. We spent the day on the beach with friends, which was helpful because being outside in natural sunlight is one of the best ways to get your body acclimated to a new time zone. I went to sleep around midnight again and was up at 8 the next morning. A perfect 8 hours.
Now, I'd be lying if I said I didn't rely on chemicals to a certain extent. I took Tylenol PM the first four days of my trip, but mostly because I suffer from the kind of jet lag where I have no trouble falling asleep, but I then wake up at 3am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed only to crash again at 9am and be down until early afternoon. Which is a terrible way to spend your vacation. The Tylenol PM works to KEEP me asleep,and doesn't give me that nasty, groggy sleeping pill hangover.
And, of course, excessive amounts of tea, coffee, and sugar-free Red Bull throughout the day. But that's nothing new.
I am trying to memorize this perfect alignment of the zodiac and equatorial lines and physics and bottles of water and sleeping patterns prior to my trip because jet lag has straight up ruined plans for us in the past. I hope this wasn't a one-off and that the formula can be repeated. Jet lag makes me sympathetic to torture victims who have suffered sleep depravation, and it basically turns me into the world's worst human being.