I’m back home after a bit of a whirlwind visit to the US for An Event Apart in Atlanta (which was, as always, superb). I’m currently battling east-west jet lag. My usual technique is exactly what Charles Stross describes:
Simply put: go to bed immediately but set an alarm to wake you after no more than 3 hours. Then get up, and stay up, until 11pm. That’s around 3-5 hours. During this time, do nothing more intellectually challenging than running a hot bath. You haven’t caught up with your sleep deficit, you’ve just pushed it back a bit: you are as cognitively impaired as if you are medium-drunk. Now is a good time — if you have the energy — to load your dirty clothes into the washing machine, have a bath, watch something mindless on TV, and catch up on web comics. Don’t worry: you won’t remember anything tomorrow. Just refrain from answering urgent business email, driving, assembling delicate instruments, or discussing important matters — if you do any of these things, odds are high that you’ll get them horribly wrong due to the impairment caused by cumulative sleep deprivation.
He goes on to wish for the invention of teleportation (and to describe a jet-lag inspired RPG).
There’s another situation where we have to deal with sitting in one place through a long uncomfortable experience: dental surgery. In that situation, we rely on medication to get us through. A little bit of nitrous oxide and the whole thing is literally over before you know it.
Why don’t we do the same thing for transatlantic air travel? The equipment is already in place—those oxygen masks above every chair could easily be repurposed to pump out laughing gas.
If this is a stupid idea, you’ll have to forgive me: I blame the jet lag.