One Household, Different Time Zones

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Since my wife and kids came home two days ago, there’s more activities in our household. The problem is the happenings are on different time zones.

I am functioning on Iowa time (Central time), my kids are still on California time (Pacific time, which is 2 hours behind), and my wife is still running on Manila time (14 hours advance). I am already sleepy and ready for bed at 10 PM, while my kids are still bouncing off the wall and very much awake at that time. And my wife?  She had her night and day completely mixed up, and she sleeps during the day. So we go to bed, wake up, eat meals, do our things on different times. Our circadian rhythms are all out of sync.

Circadian rhythm. That’s our internal clock that roughly runs 24-hour cycle. The center of our internal clock, or our “master clock”, is in our brain, in a part called hypothalamus (unrelated to hippopotamus). This circadian rhythm is linked to the light-dark cycle, so our internal clock is entrained to our actual environment. Cues from our surroundings (like the sunrise, sunsets and  meal times), resets our rhythm. Actually our internal clock is about 24.5 hour cycle, which is a little bit longer than the actual 24-hour day. So if we don’t have outside signals of time, our circadian rhythm will get a little bit longer and longer. And if we are in total darkness for days and have no cues of time, we will have a “free-running” rhythm. In other words, we will go berserk.

Travelers through different time zones, can cause a disruption of this rhythm, which is commonly known as jet lag. This can present with fatigue, grogginess, insomnia, disorientation and mild depression. So if a Balikbayan appears drunk as if he had a swig of “tuba,” it may just be jet lag. It may take a few days for a person to recover from this. A Balikbayan from the US (12-15 hour difference depending on time zones), who only stays in the Philippines for 2 weeks, will get adjusted by the time he is about to leave. Only to go through the same distressing adjustment when he gets back home.

I am hoping that in the next few days, my wife and kids would recover from their jet lags, so that we will be more synchronous in our activities. But then again, this weekend is the start of Daylight Saving Time, which means our time will change again, as it goes forward an hour. How much more havoc can that create to our already deranged rhythm?


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