It is documented that humans don’t actually have a 24-hour sleep cycle. In fact, our bodies have more of a 25-hour sleep cycle. This is quite inconvenient considering that the earth is on a 24-hour cycle. While it varies from person to person, most of us have a perpetuate desire to sleep later than we did the previous night.
I have traveled long distances west many times in my life, usually from the west coast of the United States to somewhere in Asia or Australia. Before my travels, I usually begin sleeping in for a week or two before my trip until my sleep cycle has me waking up at roughly 6am at my destination. This does wonders for jet lag. It generally only takes a few days to adapt to the new time zone after stepping off the plane.
Once I’ve spent a few low stress days on holiday (something I always try to do immediately upon arrival), I find that my sleep cycle is down right pleasant. At home, I can hardly fall asleep when I would prefer and much less wake up naturally when I prefer. But after making the long haul over the pacific, I usually find myself nodding off abruptly at 10 or 11pm and waking up naturally without even the need for coffee at around 6 or 7am. This phenomenon is something I look forward to almost as much as the trip itself.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long. The 25-hour cycle is always pulling on me. The first thing to change will be the natural wake up time of 6am. One day, I will sleep until 8 or 9. Maybe it will happen suddenly or maybe it will slowly move up over the course of a few days, but it always happens and is unavoidable. Even if I use an alarm to get up at 6am, my body will want to sleep until 9, and trying to trick it with an alarm won’t work, it will just make me enjoy the day slightly less.
After that, it will be more difficult to go to sleep at 10pm. I will lay in the bed waiting to sleep more and more each night. I can reduce the amount of time laying bed with Melatonin, but my body will still want to stay awake later and this causes my sleep to be less natural and provide less energy for the following day.
Of course, the little battle we do with our 25-hour clock is far from life-destroying, and for many is not even noticeable past a few yawns in the morning. But I’ve often wondered what it would be like to spend a year traveling on my 25-hour cycle. Every time my internal clock has me sleeping too late, I’d simply move west, to where the sun came up with my clock, instead of me waking up with its clock.
Contact: helpmetravelhack (at) 25hourclock