Jetlag – the DXpeditioner’s Curse

‘Jetlag’ (also known as desynchronosis) is a physiological condition commonly affecting DXpedition enthusiasts — one that results from rapid long-distance transmeridian travel.

Once called ‘boat lag’ by maritime mobile dx devotees before airplane (or helicopter) journey existed, this serious condition can impact heavily on the functioning of a DXpeditioner in the first couple of days of an operation.

In addition to disruptions to time on the mic, it may cause digestive problems, headaches, fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, temporary insomnia, disorientation, grogginess, irritability and/or mild depression.



What Causes Jetlag?

Old school DXpeditioner 43DA021 Brian (See pictured right, enroute to Nauru Atoll, with 43DA001 Darren), will attest that when roving across a number of time zones for dx adventure, the body clock of a dx tourist will be out of synchronisation with the DXstination time.

This is because it experiences daylight and darkness dissimilar to the rhythms to which it has grown used to.

The body’s natural pattern, then, is disturbed as the patterns that dictate times for eating, sleeping, hormone control and body temp variations no longer correspond to the surroundings.

In particular, DXpeditions which require air travel from west to east (e.g. From 43 Division to distant Pacific or NA or SA Islands) are thought to be more likely to cause jetlag.

This may be because most people have a circadian period which is a bit longer than 24 hours, making it easier to stay up later than to get up earlier.

It may also be that flights to the east are more likely to require DXplorers to stay awake more than 1 full night in order to adjust to the local time zone.



How to Avoid Jet Lag

Evidence shows that the speed at which the DXpeditioner’s body adjusts to the new schedule of a DXpedition activity depends on the individual DXer.

Some DXpedition team members may require several days to adjust to a new time zone.

Others experience little disruption at all.



Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to help avoid or lessen the duration of jetlag.

Firstly, a dx adventurist should drink lots of water the day before and also on the day of their trip to keep their body hydrated.

Airplane cabins, after all, are notoriously dry and can make a dx trailblazer feel dehydrated contributing to that horrible jetlagged sluggishness effect.

On this note, dx adventurists should also avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks which can contribute to dehydration and make the jetlag worse.

(Note the term ‘avoid’ rather than abstain hihi)



Another thing DXplorers can do to avoid jetlag is to set their watch to the local time of where they’re going when they commence their trip.

This is more a psychological ploy to dupe the body and mind but it has been known to help!

A third way of dodging the jetlag bullet is for the dx tourist to get up and walk around the plane to avoid circulation problems and stiffness in their legs. 

Moreover, once the plane has landed, a brisk 15 minute walk in the sun to get the blood circulating again before setting up the station and putting out that initial CQ DX call is also suggested.



The last piece of advice to wipe the floor with jetlag is to wear ear plugs on the plane, as well as an eye mask, and try to catch some shuteye.

This will dull the senses so the dx adventurist is not completely wired when they land…

In conclusion, performing these deeds will help guard against the inconvenience of jetlag and its impact on the enjoyment of those first few days of a DXpedition.

The condition though is destined to affect dx holidaymakers who engage in transmeridian travel to varying degrees.

If you’re patient, however, the digestive troubles, headaches, tiredness, irregular sleep patterns, short-term insomnia, disorientation, wooziness, tetchiness and mild depression will pass, leaving you in great spirits to enjoy the DXperience.

73 de Darren