Advil PM as sleeping aid on Eastbound Flights

I was wondering if anybody has experience in using Advil PM as sleeping aid on a flight from East to West. I will fly in 2 Weeks from NYC to Frankfurt and have really busy days starting the day I arrive. I couldn't change any flight dates so I could rest more, because I have to work till the day before depature. I read about No Jet Lag (the Pill) and most people said it wasn't the money worth, so I assumed Advil PM is cheaper and if I can sleep I should be able to go to the seminar. Right ? I also heard about a anti jet lag diet.... you start 3 days early and prepare your body to the new time zone! Any experiences with that ? Would love to know what your hints and tips are for No or less jet lag.... thanks

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

I've used Tylenol PM and it seemed to help a bit. I fly from California and generally arrive in Europe early to mid morning. I just keep moving that first day, eat dinner then go to bed. I have never suffered from jetlag going from west to east. I do tend to suffer when I get home, but at that point who cares!!!

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
983 posts

I've done the anti-jet lag diet, and in my experience it does work pretty well. The downside is that I found it pretty unpleasant, especially the high protein, no carb breakfast and lunches. I also find the restrictions on caffeine drinks a problem in the three days prior to flight. I don't bother with the diet these days unless I absolutely have to hit the ground running the day I arrive. One thing I do routinely take from that system is the advice to switch over to European time as soon as you get on the plane. Cover your eyes with an eyeshade when it is night at your destination, and when it would be morning, rouse yourself, get a cup or two of coffee, turn on your personal light and try to move about a bit and engage in activities that make you mentally alert. Eat a high protein snack for 'breakfast.' And, once off the plane, be outside in the sunshine as much as possible, leaving sunglasses off. The combination of light stimulation and adopting the local time for activity helps, even without the three day diet part of the system.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11076 posts

Advil PM is just ibuprofen + diphenhydramine (which is the generic name for benadryl). This might not be the best choice if you have to attend a seminar right away, because it has a long half-life and you may feel significantly groggy when you arrive. You would probably do better with a short acting sedative, like zolpidem (Ambien) or lorazepam (Ativan). Both of these are strong enough to get you to sleep easily, but the residual effects will be completely gone by the time you get to the seminar. But both are only available by prescription, so you'll need to talk to your doctor... which is preferable to getting random advice from complete anonymous strangers who do not know your medical history and can not examine you.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1617 posts

I tried to use it once on a flight. I took 2 pills, and it got me so jumpy, it was worse than taking nothing. That being said, taking one does help me sometimes at home. It's not a sleeping pill, it does help to relax your muscles and takes away aches, as any Advil will. All I can say is, it can't hurt (just make sure you take the right dose). Expect to not sleep more than 3-4 hours. Just keep moving when you get to your destination and try to get to bed at a "normal" time....maybe you can make it to 8 or 9PM the first night. I've flown to sales meetings in England and I was falling sleep mid a warm room with low lights and's hard to keep the eyes open! you might try that 5 Hour Energy drink when you start the working part of your trip to keep you awake, instead of trying to sleep on the plane!

Posted by Kris
Saratoga, NY, USA
75 posts

After flying to London in November on an overnight flight and getting NO sleep whatsoever, I used Tylenol PM on an overnight flight from JFK to Paris in March and it worked very well. I took it once I was at the gate and it was clear that there would be no issues with boarding (you don't want to take it too early and get really tired if your flight is delayed). I probably got between 6 to 7 hours of sleep, but it was enough to hit the ground running the next day-- I had enough energy to rent a car and drive to Versailles! I would just advise you to drink lots of water leading up to the flight, and also have something to eat when you take TPM. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

I've had some success with Tylenol PM (actually, cheap WalMart brand); you can buy just the 'PM' part, but generally I need the 'Tylenol' part by the time I'm boarding the airplane LOL! It's no fun when aches and pains prevent you from 'drifting off' to sleep. It seemed to help me to better get into that zoned-out place that is my poor substitute for airplane sleep... MY suggestion is to do whatever is necessary to get lots of good-quality sleep in the days leading up to your trip. Assume you will be going on NO sleep that first day; having a well-rested body allows you to function after the occasional sleepless night. And coffee ;-) **I hope your seminar is interesting and you get engaging speakers (fingers crossed)...

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4040 posts

Everyone is different, as you can see from these answers. No one can tell you what will work for you. I usually do have very bad jet lag when I go to Europe (from San Francisco). I've tried everything and nothing has helped me. I take diphenhydramine (as previous poster mentioned - cheaper than Advil PM) at home b/c I have terrible insomnia, and it does help me here. It doesn't make me feel groggy. As others have said, I just stay active the first day in Europe, and stay outdoors as much as possible. A lot of it is psychological I think. I know I'm not going to sleep on the plane and will be up for over 24 hrs. I just accept that and I don't let it bother me. I'm so happy and excited to be in Europe I don't care if I miss one night's sleep. If a person gets stressed out because they're missing sleep, it will only make it worse.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4633 posts

I usually take either Advil PM or Tylenol PM (or the generic equivalents). But I also always use the eye mask and I use ear plugs. The mask does two things. First it blocks the light, but it also tells people around you that you are trying to sleep. The ear plugs don't block all the noise, but they do reduce and make it easier to drowse off. Pam

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8198 posts

I don't usually take any sleep aid so one PM tablet is plenty for me on overnight flights. My wife has the opposite reaction, she usually can't go to sleep if she takes something but otherwise sleeps anywhere. I'd suggest trying it at least once before your trip to guage how it affects you. Remember alcohol can also affect your sleep. I try to adjust my sleep pattern at least an hour earlier during the week before the trip. Any adjustment I can make before the trip reduces my jet lag.

Posted by Jen
Charlotte, NC, USA
78 posts

I like to use Unisom. It's just a sleep aid (no pain killer like Tylenol and Advil have), and you can buy it at any pharmacy, I usually get mine at Target. It's non-habit forming. I use it on the flight east and then if necessary the first and second nights of my stay. The last time I went over there, I passed out at 6pm my first night in Europe, and woke up at 2am ready to go. So I took a Unisom and slept until 9am. After that I was completely on the right cycle. Before you go to sleep on the plane, and as soon as you wake up, have a lot of water, that seems to help.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4040 posts

Unisom is diphenhydramine. It's cheaper to actually buy diphenhydramine, rather than a name brand like Unisom, Benadryl, Advil PM. CVS has it.

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
1000 posts

Ambian. Test it out ahead of time to see how It works on you. Benadryl works well on me also but makes my wife edgy. I still think it takes at least three days for your body to fully adjust. Just push on through, after all you are a professional.

Posted by Mike
Clawson, MI, USA
195 posts

Here are some things I do that help. The night before my flight I have a caffinated beverage very late and I try to pull an almost all-nighter. Since it's an overnight flight I'm now naturally tired when we depart. This is easy for me because I get overly excited about the trip and can't sleep anyway. If you're flying coach try to book a seat as far away from the bathrooms as possible. The closing of the door and the people chatting are distracting. The middle seat in the center section of seats is a good spot. So is a window seat. You will have fewer people getting-up in front of you. Earplugs or noice canceling headphones help. So does an eye cover. A "C or U" shaped travel pillow worn in the reverse direction will keep your head from falling forward when you sleep. Take some Tums or Pepcid Chewables so your stomach doesn't work against you.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
829 posts

Mike's advice is great if you actually sleep on planes. Regardles of how tired I am, sleeping on planes just doesn't happen for me outside of few cat naps. So I try to be as rested as possible before the trip, then muscle through the first day until around 9PM. Then 10 hours of sleeps puts me on local time for day 2.

Posted by Debra
Celina, TX, USA
256 posts

I don't sleep on planes, either. I usually only cat nap, because I am too hyped up about our fabulous trip. I just push forward with the day and try to go to bed at regular bedtime (of course it is Europe time). Then, I have discovered if I take an advil, not a PM, before bed it will relax my enough to fall asleep. I will sleep right through the night. I will do the same thing the next night, and then my body's clock is set. I have no problems for the rest of the trip.

Posted by Adam
2925 posts

Benadryl might help you sleep but it won't reset your circadian clock--won't reduce your jet lag. There might be some benefit if used in conjunction with a regimen that will (e.g., diet, melatonin, light exposure). But as others note it might remain in your system for longer than you'd like.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
806 posts

"Unisom is diphenhydramine" - NO, IT IS NOT. UNISOM is Doxylamine Succinate 25mg. This has a shorter half life than diphenhydramine - you will not get that groggy feeling in the monring like you do with BENADRYL which IS diphenhydramine. If you've never taken UNISOM, you probably won't need a whole tablet. They are not scored but they break into halves easily if you have any kind of a thumbnail. I have taken Unisom off and on for years and still usually only take a half tab. Whatever you decide to try, do a few "trial runs" BEFORE the trip.

Posted by Sharon
2739 posts

Marius, Don't make the mistake that I did! I took a Benadryl to help me sleep and then couldn't resist the complimentary wine. I felt terrible--both on the flight and the next day! No matter what you decide to take, I agree with taking a trial run before your trip. I might be tempted to go without any sleep aids since you need to "hit the ground running." I've been able to sleep pretty well with earplugs and a mask.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4040 posts

Elaine, when shopping and comparing I looked at the ingredients for Unisom at CVS and it said the active ingredient is diphenhydramine. I googled it just now and this is what Wikidpedia writes: Unisom is the Chattem brand name for an over-the-counter sleep-aid medication. While marketed under a single trademark, the active ingredient may be one of two drugs, depending on the type of preparation. Doxylamine succinate is sold in 25 mg dosages as tablets, and diphenhydramine hydrochloride is sold as tablets, and also in liquid/gelatin preparation in dosages of 50 mg. Apparently it can be either of the two.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2320 posts

Whatever you decided, check out the ingredients on the name brand you select and then find the house brand with the same ingredients and save yourself lots of money. I buy the house brand at Costco all the time for my needs.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
806 posts

I only buy the blue tablets and I have been using the doxylamine succinate for about 8 years. How very odd that they would market the same brand name drug using two different generics. That doesn't make much sense. People get varying reactions between those two drugs. Of course Sudafed is no longer Pseudophedrine Hydrochloride if you buy it off the shelf ( but you can get it from behind the counter)

Posted by Kathleen
Reston, VA, USA
553 posts

To echo Brad's suggestion, I usually try to move my clock several hours earlier during the week before the flight, so I'm getting up at 4.30 am on the flight day. That has two results - it's easier to go to sleep at 9 pm on the plane, and I have a 2 or 3-hour jump on the time change. I used to take a 1-hour nap on the day of arrival but haven't needed to do that the last few trips to Europe - and it sounds as if that wouldn't be an option for you anyway. Good luck and have a great trip!