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Secrets for getting over jet lag

I was wondering what everyone did to combat jet lag?

Posted by
3580 posts

I've tried almost everything against jet lag. What works for me is to sleep some on the plane over, stay up and awake until at least dark, then take a prescription sleeping pill. The main problem a lot of us have is not being able to sleep well for the first few nights.

Posted by
1568 posts

I've never had a problem with jet lag. Our last flight left SFO at 4pm PST - 11 hours non-stop and A'Dam was 9 hours ahead of us.

By the time we got to our room - unpacked - went to eat - did some sight seeing - ate again - it was time for bed and we had no problem sleeping.

My daughter and I have no problems sleeping at home. I suppose that may have something to do with it.

Posted by
18 posts

The best remedy for me is to try to sleep as much as possible on the flight over there (even if it's only 3 hours) then when you arrive early the next morning, stay active and awake until dinnertime, have a light dinner, then go to bed around 8 PM. I tend to wake up early the next day, but by that point, I'm pretty much on Europe time. That night I go to bed at a usual time and then I'm fine the rest of the trip.
The key, I think, is not napping the day you arrive. Easier said than done, but if you can tough it out that first day, you'll get "on schedule" much faster.

Posted by
473 posts

I'm with Swan from CA. We've gone to bed at 9:00 PM local time, only to wake up at midnight, totally wonky. Our solution is to walk as much as possible during the day, to establish what I call a "physical tiredness". then about 9:00 or so at night, take a sleeping pill, such as Ambien, and go to bed. We wake up feeling pretty darn good. You may or may not need something as strong as an Ambien, depending upon your body. Over the counter sleep aids have worked well for some people at my work.

Posted by
2788 posts

The first two years I went to Europe (from Seattle) I did the most recommended ways of curring jet lag - napping on the plane, staying up and going out after arrival, and I felt terrable for several days.
Then I started to go to bed and take a nap as soon as I check into my hotel/B&B, getting up for dinner and then going for a walk, then back to bed and take a Bennedryl, get a good nights sleep and am good to go. Different strokes for different folks.

Posted by
705 posts

I'm with Charles. My last trip to Europe involved 26 hours travelling to get to my destination and boy was I travelling on auto pilot. When I arrived at my hotel just after lunch I went for a quick walk to get some air and get the body moving and then went to bed around 3pm. Slept until 9pm when I was woken by the phone and then went back to sleep and slept until 8am the next morning and felt fine for my business meetings that day. I've also tried everything and this works best for me. I just can not sleep more than 2 - 3 hours on a plane even if the flight is 13 - 14 hours. I have stand by sleeping tablets if I need them.

Posted by
221 posts

I have found that going east isn't the problem, I am always so excited to get out and start going, I do what others suggest, staying up, eating and walking and going to bed early. it is coming back west that kills me. I went for a week once and said never again, it took me nearly a week to get over it coming home. my husband and I spent 4 nights up at 4 am. wide awake and watched movies when we got back home and then had to go to work exhausted. I also plan now to not go back to work for at least two days after I get home to readjust my internal clock.

Posted by
53 posts

I'm actually the opposite! It kills me going east, but since it's daylight (of the same day) when I get back to the US, I just stay up till time to go to sleep.

For my flight over, I usually get in early in the morning, so I leave my bag at the hotel, walk around & kill time until my room is ready (usually around 2 p.m.). {I have to keep walking so I won't fall asleep head-first on a marble table like I did in London at my hotel! :P} Then I go in & take an hour or 2 nap, get up & go to dinner, then go to bed around 9 or 10 p.m. I'll sleep thru the night & be ready to go first thing the next morning!

Posted by
23 posts

I try to go to bed and get up an hour or two early for a couple nights before I travel east. Then I can sleep on the7pm flight to europe.
Coming home from Europe I go to work the next day. No kidding - if I have a day or two off I feel rotten, but if I get right into my normal routine I feel a lot better a lot sooner!

Posted by
1 posts

We have used a homeopathic product called NO-Jet Lag(made in New Zealand) for the last 3 years .
We settle in our room upon after arriving and go for a walk(hopefully some sunshine) and take in a nice easy day and retire perhaps an hour or two earlier then normal.The trick is to adjust to the new time as quick as possible. We may be somewhat tired , however we function very well.
We especially find that when we return home we no longer feel like zombies for 6-7 days.
You take 2 pills upon takeoff and therein every 2 hours until landing (going and coming).
Last year I also started (a week ahead before flight) going to bed an hour earlier each nightto help the adjustment.
Hope this helps?

Posted by
91 posts

jet lag is a huge issue for me. the one thing i've found that works for me is to find a flight that arrives in the evening. that way i can check in right away, take a short walk, eat dinner and go directly to bed. i usually end up waking up feeling pretty good. i know it means i essentially miss out on a day of exploring- but i design my itinerary around it.

Posted by
13 posts

I can suffer from jet lag especially when traveling overnight. Here is advice I got from a well seasoned traveler before my first trip to Europe. It works.
Sleep on the plane, use a eye mask and earplugs if you need them.

If you arrive in the morning, go out and walk around get some daylight, have a light meal, then when you get to your hotel rest for no more than an hour, set an alarm or have your hotel call your room. Then go out again and go to bed at your regular time.
If you arrive afternoon or early evening, check in and then go out and do something have a light dinner and stay up until your regular bed time.

Stay away from too much coffee, it will effect your sleep. You may feel like you are going to fall asleep standing up but going to sleep too early at night the first day you may start start a pattern of getting up at the ungodly hour of 4 or 5 am.

Posted by
13 posts

Oh I forgot, my friend also mentioned taking a mild sleeping pill on flights longer than nine hours.

Posted by
223 posts

As a tag on to Mike's post above with the New York Times article (very informative, btw), British Airways has a "jet lag advisor" which is basically a calculator that will determine the amount of time between your home and your destination and then give you optimal times to seek light and darkness to help your body adjust.

Posted by
31 posts

I've never found a way to get over it. It only hits me on the trip over and not on the way back. And it comes on like a tidal wave after about 4 days. No matter how much I decide, "Tonight, I'm going to go out and have a few beers." I'm in bed by 5 p.m. It happens one day and then I'm fine.

Seriously, I read recently something in Viagra combats jet lag for both men and women.

Posted by
31 posts

It is a good idea to avoid alcohol on the flight over. It may help you relax and go to sleep, but it disrupts the sleeping cycle. I would go nuts wearing a sleep mask, but ear plugs or an I-pod (white noise or quiet music) will help block out disruptions.


Posted by
9 posts

I suffer west to east. My doctor prescribes ambien which I take on the plane going over as close to what my European bed time will be. Since most planes fly at night from the US this works out well.

Then when in Europe I take melatonin about 8 pm and for three days I also take diminishing doses of ambien. I continue to take the melatonin for about a week. This works like a dream for me and I'm instantly adapted and well rested.

Warning-- only take the ambien if you can sleep solidly for at least eight hours. You don't want to have to be able to function while under its influence. If there were some trouble on the plane I'd be out of luck.

Also, at least for me, ambien works so well that I can see that it could be highly habit forming. I have heard of some people that fall in love with it and get hooked. Apparently if you take it for too long, it makes it hard to sleep without it. I've never had that problem with just taking it for three days.

I don't have a problem coming West.

Posted by
190 posts

I tried the BA site recommended above; very interesting. I don't think there is any way to avoid jetlag, but it can be minimized. I usually work backwards from the time I am arriving to find when I would go to sleep if I was living there and translate it to my time zone. That helps me judge my sleep on the trip. I have also found that Rick Steve's suggestion to dring lots of orange juice really does help - noticibly so. I also take Airborne; the extra vitamins and minerals seem to help my body make the transition more easily. I also plan my first day there as "jetlag day", gearing my activities to readjusting. This year, I will be in Dublin seeing the Book of Kells that I missed before; I hope I remember it!

Posted by
2 posts

My husband and I recently discovered No Jet Lag pills. They are perfectly safe, no drugs involved. Get the chewable ones and take one every 2 hours (if you are awake) on the plane. The next day you are tired if no sleep happened, but you don't have that shakey feeling, like internal vibrations. We are able to stay up until bedtime in the county we have traveled to and from that point on we are on current time, fabulous product. You can buy online thru

Best advise is to not drink anything but water, and try not to eat too much of the dinner on plane. Just relax with it, after all you are on vacation!

Posted by
48 posts

When we went last year...we used a product from New Zealand..No-Jet Lag & did it ever work. Arrived, slept got up the next morning like we just traveled to another state! !

Posted by
970 posts

I can't sleep on planes, so I avoid overnight flights to Europe. I try for a morning flight from the East Coast. Then, I make a point of staying up late (1 or 2 a.m. local) on the first night, and sleeping as late as possible the next morning. That usually deals with any jet lag issues on the outgoing flight and gets me in synch with the local time. Coming back is different. I just plan for the first day home to be a crash and recover day.

Posted by
808 posts

A very noteworthy comment by Peter "if there were some trouble on the plane I'd be out of luck". YES!

Sedate yourself at your own risk! There's nothing worse than having to evacuate an aircraft with sudated drowsy passengers...impaired in various forms.

In what other public forum would you sedate yourself with drugs and alcohol, earplugs to impair your hearing and eyemasks to block your vision? Top it all off, ignore or worse speak loudly through the safety demonstrations?

Flight Attendants deliver LIFE SAVING INFORMATION!

Why wouldn't you listen for the short time it is being offered to you? I will never understand why the newspaper is so facinatining that you can't set it down for the next 10 minutes? Or why it is so important to immediately go to sleep?

All aircraft are different and even if you think you've heard the safety demos a thousand times, LISTEN anyway. It can save your live!

Posted by
769 posts

I also used the No-Jet-Lag product from LAX-to-Germany/Scandinavia. It worked better on the way home - got home and late afternoon, went to bed early (830) slept through and got up at 7 the next day with no problem! The old rule of staying up as late as you can with the locals/destination often helps (and use the No-Jet-Lag herbal tablets!) You can read their website for details.

Posted by
83 posts

I'm reasonably lucky in that I don't suffer jet lag too badly but of course I do experience some. Honestly, I've found the best solution for me is to simply fly over to Europe (or wherever you may be going) one day earlier than I normally would to avoid beginning a tour or my own itinerary while still a bit tired. I don't know how flexible you can be with your schedule but if you can fly in a day early it might be worth it.

A sleep a bit on the plane (albeit not well) and then when I get to my destination take a short nap (middle of the afternoon) and then get up and keep moving until bed time, which, on my first night over is usually pretty early (around 8pm). I'm ready to go by the next morning.

Posted by
1455 posts

I'll add my 2cents. For me, adjusting to the new European time isn't hard. I sleep on the plane, drink plenty of water, and stay up til at least 9 or 10 pm local time. If I start feeling tired or sleepy, Shopping or picture taking keeps me moving.

Do not get on a bus! That will make you sleepy. :)

When coming back to the US, I try not to sleep on the plane. That way when I get home (usually an afternoon flight) I can sleep when I get home... and within a day or 2 I'm back to the correct time zone.

Posted by
689 posts

I too do not suffer too badly from jet lag. By the time we get to our first hotel it is usually mid afternoon. We stop at a market on our way to the hotel and stock up on our picnic supplies etc.

We always plan our first destination to be laid back and restful (Venice, Porto San Stefano, Massa Lubrense, Fallo)(all in Italy) That way we can go with the flow. Get to sleep early the first night and then enjoy our destination early without other folks around.