When most people suffer from jet lag, it’s after returning home from a week-long vacation in a different time zone two hours ahead or behind. In those cases, you tend to fall asleep unusually early or unusually late. Returning to your home country after a year is another story.

I left the US in March 2013 to teach ESL in South Korea. I returned to California in July 2014. Living in a time zone twelve hours ahead for fifteen months made it much more difficult for my body to readjust. Every day for the first week, I would nap away the afternoon and be wide awake until the following sunrise. Most of my plans for visiting and sightseeing had to be canceled or postponed because I couldn’t stay awake. Having never been overseas for longer than a week, I didn’t know what to expect. Personally, I did not try any tricks or home remedies to help myself recover from jet lag. One week was how long it took my body to naturally readjust to the time change.

Of course everybody is different. Additionally, some other factors at play here that can determine your recovery time are the time your flight departs, the length of your layover, and the duration of the flight. For example, I flew out of Seoul at night and my layover in Taiwan was only one hour. After sitting in a plane for thirteen hours awake, I arrived in San Francisco around 8 pm, close to the same time I left Korea.

So my recovery from jet lag could have been shorter if I departed on a non-stop flight in the afternoon, slept throughout my flight, and arrived in the morning, refreshed.

But when it comes to traveling, there are so many factors we cannot control. We can only plan and prepare so much. Sometimes there are delays, changes, cancelations. Sometimes you just have to make like a plane, and wing it.