I’m back in Japan again (not that anyone reading this most likely doesn’t already know), living in Tokyo for what should be my final semester of law school. I have been here just over a month, and the time has come for me to briefly head back to the States. This Saturday, just over three days from now, I fly to San Francisco via Japan Airlines’ only non-stop flight to attend the Game Developers’ Conference. On the one hand, it’s an exciting opportunity to network and get my résumé into the hands of numerous would-be employers. But at times it feels like a nearly futile effort to break into the industry that interests me more than any other. I’m not going to give up on it, but with graduation and real life responsibilities waiting in the wings, at some point the practical side of me requires an alternative course of action. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there yet, and certainly not the focal point of this post.

It’s nearly 3 AM here in Tokyo, which corresponds to 10 AM Pacific Standard Time. I’ll only be in SF for one week, during which I’ll be required to go pretty full steam from as early as 8 in the morning till however late I can at night. I only have one law class before leaving, from 6:30 PM tomorrow night, and nothing at all on Friday. Thus, my thinking is to do whatever I can to minimize the effects of jet lag upon my arrival, and ease my transition (however brief) back into a U.S. time zone.

I searched online for any reports of others who have tried to implement a plan similar to mine, but to no avail. I’m certainly not first, but not finding anything solid, felt a need to document my experience here. Most suggestions went in the form of trying to fall asleep an hour or so a night earlier, as much as needed. That course won’t work for my situation for a number of reasons… Nearly all my classes, including tomorrow night’s, stretch from early evening until after 9 PM, and I can’t well hit the hay in the middle of a class, now can I? I’d need to go to bed in Tokyo at 8 o’clock at night to be hitting a cool 3 AM bed time in California, so even assuming I could go home right after class and immediately sleep (pretending for a moment I’d actually get to sleep), I’d still be staring down a 5 AM goodnight on the west coast. Much more likely, I’d lie in bed and gaze unproductively at the ceiling, and come out not significantly closer to my goal. By pushing myself to stay up, I force a certain level of cooperation from my body. I’m not hoping for complete success, but that’s what this documentation is meant to keep track of.

Starting out on this voyage through the Tokyo after hours, I project my ideal sleep schedule to go like this:

Current (Average)
  Tokyo San Francisco
Sleep at 2:00 AM 9:00 AM
Wake at 10:00 AM 5:00 PM

Weds./Thurs. Night
  Tokyo San Francisco
Sleep at 8:00 AM 3:00 PM
Wake at 3:00 PM 10:00 PM

Thurs./Fri. Night
  Tokyo San Francisco
Sleep at 1:00 PM 8:00 PM
Wake at 8:00 PM 3:00 AM

Fri./Sat. Night
  Tokyo San Francisco
Sleep at 7:00 PM 2:00 AM
Wake at 2:00 AM 9:00 AM


That schedule shouldn’t be too difficult, but a couple points are worth mentioning.

  • As you can see, my current sleep schedule is almost the opposite of what I’ll be needing in the U.S., so there is a lot of work to be done.
  • The hardest segment will undoubtedly be the push from Friday into Saturday, where if all goes according to plan, my already sleep-discombobulated body will need to stay awake a full 23 hours. This problem can’t be easily remedied, since my plane leaves Japan at 6 PM local time, so to attempt a “night’s” sleep before that would mean I’d be wide awake on the plane, through the wee hours by California time, and much of my work would be undone. It’ll be tough, but if I can make it…
  • …by the last day of the schedule, I’ll effectively be on San Francisco time. For the first three tables, it’s the Tokyo time that really matters, since that’s where I’ll be living. But look to the San Francisco time on the final table — that’s where I cross over the Pacific. Incidentally, my plane lands in SF at 10 AM PST.

Bear in mind, this schedule is optimistic at best. Even if I can force myself to it, there’s no guarantee my circadian rhythm will adjust at the same pace. Frankly, I’m really not sure how or if it will work, but only one way to find out, and if the alternative is to certainly be dead on my feet for 1/3 or more of my trip, I’m game to give it a try.

I’ll also keep a log in a second post of how things are going, how I’m feeling generally, and hopefully a wrap up post when it’s all through. Anyone have any thoughts?

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