Adjusting to Irish time

time fliesGoing from Ireland to California isn’t too bad. There may be 8 hours in the difference between them, but when you arrive in California from Ireland, the challenge is to simply stay up later. You’re wide awake in the mornings and tired in the evenings – no problem. Going the other way though is a nightmare.

Arriving in Ireland from Pacific Standard time is a miserable experience. You’re wide awake in the evenings and exhausted during the day.

One must struggle to fall asleep when one’s brain is insisting it is early afternoon. One must fight to keep oneself alert mid-afternoon when one’s body is telling one that it is 4am and one hasn’t slept. The experience must be exponentially worse for babies – the poor little munchkin is far too young to understand why she is being put to sleep when she wants to stay up and why she is expected to be sociable when she’s cranky, tired and ready for bed.

So, what should be done? Well, here’s what we’ve found works the best:

When you leave Ireland for California, try to stay awake until 9-10pm and then allow yourself to sleep. You’ll be able to function pretty well and, after a day or two you’ll be adjusted.

When you leave California for Ireland DO NOT sleep during the day for the first couple of days – no matter how hard it may be. Doing so will ensure you’ll be off local time for days. If you can get some over-the-counter melatonin stateside – use it in the evening when you go to bed in Ireland; some people find that solves all their problems (Melatonin is the neurotransmitter the brain stores up during the day and releases at bedtime to let the body know it’s time to sleep. When taken orally, its presence in the bloodstream causes the brain to release its store of melatonin – effectively resetting your internal clock!).

Otherwise, plan some active, stimulating activities for your daytimes in an attempt to tire yourself enough that you’ll sleep at night. Careful with eating large afternoon meals the first couple of days – staying awake as the seratonin from a big meal washes through your system can be just about impossible. Also, avoid turkey and milk except at bedtime – the tryptophane amino acid in them is a natural sleeping aid. Also, alcohol taken at bedtime might help you get to sleep, but will also help you wake up before you’ve rested. Alcohol disturbs your sleeping patterns – the body has a hard time getting to a deep sleep state when there’s alcohol in the system, so avoid heavy drinking (especially before bed) for the first day or two.

Irish tea is a lovely thing – drink a lot of it during the day to stay awake – it’s much better for you than coffee, coke or *shudder* red bull.

Ireland is such a stimulating place that, chances are, you’ll be adjusted to the time zone within a day or two with little or no fuss.