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Sleep on arrival

Husband and I disagreeing on sleeping when we get to Rome. Arriving day before our tour starts. Leave Miami at 430pm with 2 hr stopover in Lisbon. We arrive Rome time 10:30 am. He thinks we should go to bed. I say to stay up , maybe cat nap in afternoon then go to bed on Rome time. Any advice?

Posted by
20729 posts

That is the pattern we would recommend. We used to follow the practice of staying awake till you dropped at night. Never worked all that well for us. Had some miserable evening meals. Now we take a one to two hour nap -- no more, set an alarm -- around 3pm. Generally self awake around an hour and a half. That recharges our batteries to get us through a pleasant evening dinner and bed around ten or so. Prior to the nap we try to stay activity with lots of walking in the sun -- assuming it is not raining. Same after the nap -- hit the street, walk somewhere. That is the pattern that works best for us based on our experiences.

Posted by
182 posts

I’ve done both. Everyone is different, but I’ve found if I walk around for a bit and get a little exercise, then take a nap, then find dinner, then go to bed I actually sleep through the night and wake up feeling good the next day.

Also, as a solo traveler, I’ll remind you that the two of you don’t have to do the exact same thing. Married+on vacation does not equal obligated to do everything together.

Posted by
869 posts

I've tried the "recommended" no nap, just walk outside drill. I'm sure it works for some, but stumbling around outside in an unfamiliar city does not work for me. I need a nap--2 hours tops, and then I am able to function in a reasonable way for the rest of the day.

Do what works for you.

Posted by
1126 posts

My wife and I have always stayed up the day of arrival in Europe. We just try to get plenty of fresh air and walking. We will usually get to bed a little bit earlier than normal, except the last time I stayed up to get some night time photographs. The next day we are both well adjusted. We have done this for many years and trips.

Posted by
2359 posts

Everyone has their way of dealing with this. The conventional wisdom is to stay awake until you collapse then sleep in the time zone. Others like the afternoon nap (which does not work for us-tried it once and felt like the worst hangover of our lives). I say, listen to your body keeping in mind you do want to get on European time. With a 10:30 landing in the best of cases you’ll get to your hotel 12-2. Do they know you want an early check in? If not, let them know. If you can get a room, shower, unpack that would be great. Your next step should be a leisurely lunch. If you feel good, stroll, see the sights, have a gelato. If you can stay awake for dinner, more power to you. We’d be pretty much done by 6 at which time we read a little and call it a night. Given the fact that we don’t sleep all that well in planes we often find we wake at 5 AM which is perfect. The city is just coming awake, you can walk, get a cappuccino, welcome to Rome!

Posted by
7795 posts

Yes, see what you feel like when you get there.

If I arrive in the AM I walk a bit, have lunch and then generally cannot keep my eyes open by about 1-2 PM. I usually can get into my hotel room by then so I sleep for about 1.5 hours (set an alarm) and go back outside. This last trip I was with 3 others, somehow managed to sleep more on the plane than I usually do and managed to push thru til about 8PM. That was a first and likely can't replicate it on my own.

IF you can keep your eyes open and be safe, don't nap.

If you get to the point where you just. can't. keep your eyes open, take a nap. I also don't like to get too far from the hotel on arrival day so I can head back if I feel a sinking spell coming on.

Posted by
6445 posts

But will the place where you are staying going to be available at the time you think you want to checkin ?

You sound like you have traveled before so do what you know what works

Posted by
5399 posts

Ryan has a good point -- if one person is exhausted, it seems contraintuitive to try to stagger around just to stay awake, even if the other person is chipper and ready to go. See what works for you.

Posted by
5934 posts

We always stay awake, eat dinner at arrival location’s dinner time, go to bed. We are fine the next day. We spend the arrival day outside. Walking, taking a boat ride.

Posted by
2052 posts

If you get to Rome at 10:30, there's a decent chance your room will be ready by the time you get to the hotel. I would definitely email your hotel and ask about an early check in. After an overnight flight(s), I just want to get out of the clothes I've been wearing for over 24 hours and take a shower. Maybe take a nap, but I really want some down time in the hotel room before I do anything else.

Posted by
5010 posts

We always follow the conventional wisdom. It works for us. Mostly what it does is it gets us and our bodies more or less (close enough) to the arrival time zone when we wake up the next morning. The whole point of this is not to make yourself miserable the afternoon of your arrival. It's to force yourself to get aligned to your new time zone. Sure, hitting the sack in the afternoon on arrival day would feel good. But IME you then pay for that for the next few days as your body fights the time zone switch. I look at it this way: it takes a bit of a push to force the body into a new time zone quickly. You can leverage your exhaustion on arrival day to do that by staying up until after local dinner time. Or, if you give in and nap the afternoon of your arrival, your body will be all out of alignment with the local time zone for days (with headaches, being up at weird hours at night, and more). It does take some discipline and will-power, but for us, it's worth it to stay up until after dinner on arrival day. That lets us make the adjustment in one day. If we sleep too soon, it can take days to get time zone aligned.


Posted by
12139 posts

It all depends. In my younger days, say 30-45 years ago, I did not make it point to sleep on the flight over. Sometimes I slept, other times just a couple of hours, plus dozing. I relied on sleeping or a nap at the hostel or Pension upon arrival. Starting on the trip at 51, my focus changed to sleeping on the flight, as much as possible in the ca 11 hour non-stop flight, usually 5.5 to ca. 7 hrs.
Now, upon arrival in the morning the aim is not to sleep right away since I had slept enough on the plane.

Posted by
11733 posts

But will the place where you are staying going to be available at the
time you think you want to checkin ?

That's the catch. Our accommodations haven't usually been available until afternoon check-in time, although they've been happy to store our bags. Even so, a nap doesn't work for us although it does for some other travelers. We'd feel worse after just a couple hours sleep, and we manage to get a second wind after a bracing cup of Italian coffee and some exploring in the fresh air (no museums!!!). The rush of just being THERE helps too!

Posted by
6544 posts

When arriving early in the day, we often will get to the hotel around mid-day. Sometimes we drop our luggage at the hotel and go out for lunch and maybe a short walk around the neighborhood.
We get into the room mid-afternoon and take a nap. We'll then get up, eat dinner close by and go to bed at 10:00 p.m. local time. The next morning, we're ready to go.
We were in Rome a year ago, coming off a repositioning cruise at Civitavecchia. Although we got off the ship early, lines were long to get on the only bus taking us to the front of the port. Then we had another que for the local bus to the train station. We missed our train by 5 minutes and had to wait another hour for the next Saturday train. By the time we got to the bed and breakfast, our host had given up on us and left. We had to wait for him to return to check us in. Remember that Italy runs on Italian time--not what we're used to.

Posted by
1731 posts

I agree with Kath. We got to Paris, excited as heck as it was our first time there, but still had 3 hours before we could get into our hotel room. Dropped our bags at the hotel, walked around the winding Parisien streets, found a recommended cafe. Had some saucisses with a bit of Chablis, just shot the bull and took it all in for about 90 minutes. And I will say that everything looked more vibrant, almost surreal, probably because of the jet lag and I was digging it.

Then wandered around a little more, somewhat got the lay of the land in our arrondissement, then finally got into our room, opened the window, set an alarm and passed out for a couple of hours. Got up, delusionally refreshed, showered, then went to an early dinner. Started feeling it on the second glass of wine over the coq au vin (they do chicken real well in Paris!), no dessert, back to the hotel room, bed about 9PM. Up the next morning pretty much back to normal.

That's basically what's worked for three trips. Leaving from the US late afternoon/early evening, arriving at European destination mid-to-late morning next day. Enjoy your planning!

Posted by
823 posts

I abide by the "no nap/stay awake" rule. I always have a something planned to keep my mind focused on so I can stay awake that first day. I try to get plenty of fresh air, sunshine (shouldn't be too hard in Rome), and mild exercise in order to fight the urge to nap. Otherwise, it takes forever for my body clock to swing over. I find that if I can stay up until 8:00pm local time, by morning I'm firmly grounded in the new time zone.

Anyway, if your flight arrives Rome at 10:30am, it'll be noon-ish by the time you arrive Termini if you travel with carry-ons only (or 30 minutes later if you check luggage). I would drop the bags off at the left-luggage office and head across the street to the Roman Baths museum and/or the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. This should keep you occupied until hotel check-in time.

Posted by
5215 posts

The one time I succumbed to temptation and took a long nap on arrival day, I felt great after the nap. But then could not get to sleep at night and would keep waking up dead tired in the morning for the first week. It messed up my internal clock for days. I could not just start eating breakfast when my body thinks its midnight, or dinner at breakfast time. Some people can tolerate the time change better, but I think it gets worse when you get older.

Posted by
208 posts

Even when not crossing multiple time zones, I'm not a napper. I wake up feeling groggy and miserable. So we power through, making sure to be outside as much as possible. A walking tour is good, to get the lay of the land. We try to stay up until 8 or 9. Then we usually feel pretty good the next day.

Posted by
1667 posts

Chalk us up in the "no nap" category. The key is to push through, doing as much walking outdoors as possible. No dimly lit museums. Have a nice dinner and turn in a little early. We are early birds so we are up and at it early the next day.

We have been lucky. On two of our trips, we got to fly first class. On our trip to Tuscany, we had the seats that make into a bed. We slept like babies for most of the trip.

Posted by
5010 posts

We have been lucky. On two of our trips, we got to fly first class. On our trip to Tuscany, we had the seats that make into a bed. We slept like babies for most of the trip.

DougMac makes a good point. Some of this is about what you do after you finally arrive after the long slog from home. Some of it is about what you are able to do en route (how much sleep, if any, you get, and what is the quality of that sleep). And some of it is about what kind of shape you were in before you left your home.

Back when I was younger and more reckless, I would typically be working long hours every day before departure (to try and take care of all the stuff that was going to go wrong at work while I was away). So short on sleep for many days before the trip. Then the night before, I'd be packing all night - literally, all night - I rarely get any sleep at all the night before the trip, so when I headed to the airport, I was already badly, badly in sleep deficit. Then, sandwiched into a miserable cramped coach seat...and I am a very, very "light" even in my badly sleep-deprived condition, I could not do any better than briefly nod off for a minute or two at a time into a semi-conscious state that wasn't exactly sleep (although I could tell I was "dreaming" while half-awake - a really weird and I'm sure quite unhealthy condition). No real sleep at all. Then, finally, after scraping myself out of that awful seat, in Bangkok or Ljubljana...I'd be physically ill (first stop on arrival, a bathroom for some quality time...). It would take me 2 -3 days (literally, sometimes 3 whole days!) to recover from this ordeal. Just aligning to the timezone was the least of my worries!

Now, I do things differently.

I try not to be so wrapped up in pre-trip tasks that I'm a mess in the days before leaving. I try to get at least a little sleep the night before departure - but I do start shortening my sleep to ensure I'm at least a little tired before the flight. I get to the airport with plenty of "lounge time". First thing I do after check-in is go get a massage (most large airports have this)! It's a small splurge but I find it works out all the (considerable) pre-trip stress that has accumulated - highly recommended! - this is a GREAT way to start your trip on the right note. And I fly business class. I pick a good routing, with either a nonstop or a long flight almost to my destination - the long flight is key to getting sleep. No connections/layovers half-way there. I choose a flight with a good business class seat that goes flat. I'll grab a bite to eat in the lounge, maybe the inflight meal if it looks OK, then I go to sleep. I am generally able to get a solid 5-8 hours of good, restful sleep on the plane, so upon arrival I'm somewhat rested, and my body clock is already a bit disoriented ("loosened up"). Then I try to stay outside, stay active, get fresh air, and say up until after an early dinner. Then I sleep deeply. I wake up the next morning feeling great and ready to go at full speed.

The difference in how I feel is amazing. Doing the above effectively buys me 2-3 more usable days at my destination upon arrival. More importantly, it also improves the quality of the entire trip, since I get to actually enjoy the first week of the trip instead of spending that first week recovering from the ordeal of getting there.

Posted by
978 posts

We have tried both methods and prefer the nap approach. A one to two hour nap in the middle of the afternoon allows us to stay up until a normal bedtime on the day of arrival.

Posted by
3436 posts

I've tried all the options but I don't sleep on the plane. Doesn't matter if I get the lay flat 1st class seat or they stuff me in with the luggage -- I can't sleep on a plane. Too much noise, jostling by other passengers passing the seat, having to get up to let the person next to me go to the toilet, on and on. So I sleep on arrival.

I will buy a pass to the arrivals lounge at the airport if my ticket doesn't include access. I will shower and change clothes. This helps for a bit. I can usually grab something light to eat in the lounge, drink lots of coffee, and hang out as long as they allow. I then take slow transit to my hotel. This is either subway or bus. It is cheap and easy in nearly every European city (cheap at least compared to a taxi). If the hotel is not ready for me to check in, I will leave my luggage and walk around the neighbor hood a bit. Not doing serious sight seeing that requires any though, just out enjoying maybe a walk in the park. If the weather is not so good, I will camp in the hotel lobby. This seems to get the room ready earlier too. After check in, I will snooze until around local dinner time and then proceed to have a fairly large and heavy dinner to get me sleepy again. Then it is off to bed once again and I wake around sunrise ready to do my serious touristy activities.

Does this mean I loose some precious tourist time? Maybe, but being a zombie shambling around town where I can't remember anything anyway doesn't really provide any enjoyment to me.

Posted by
2491 posts

I would be angry with a spouse that insisted I stay up when I wanted to take a nap after a long overnight flight. One spouse should not be telling the other what to do. If you want to go sightsee, fine, but let him sleep.

Posted by
1629 posts

I'm in the nap corner. I almost always nap for no more than 2 hours once I am in my hotel room. I have tried the "push through no matter how you feel" approach and it does not work for me. A nap refreshes me enough so I can keep pushing through until dinner and then I allow myself to go to bed. I do walk as much as possible in the fresh air. It's a delight to explore my destination when I arrive, I'm really here! I hardly ever get more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep on the plane so a nap helps to revive me.

Posted by
619 posts

You have received good advice from folks in this forum. My only advice is to plan so that you have options. If you and your husband agree in advance that you will take the option of one or both of you napping in the afternoon if warranted, but that you will see how you feel and if you can power through to get on the new time zone safely that you have that option as well.

Therefore, I would check with the hotel to see if you can check in early. If not, I agree with the advice that a shower and change of clothes does wonders along with a light bite to eat. Your airline may have an arrival lounge that you can buy a pass to use if your hotel cannot check you in early or if they don’t have a gym with a shower facility.

If you decide to power through, stay outdoors and try not to do anything that requires high levels of concentration. Pick one of the RS walks in the guide book. I have actually taken guided “outdoor walking” tours (not in Rome) so that all I have to do is follow the leader.

For me, I don’t sleep on planes, but I try to power through the day to better adjust to a new time zone. When I travel alone, it is easier to do. When I travel with my husband or friends, it is harder. Everyone is usually tired and cranky and if a short nap helps keep group equilibrium, then that is what we do.

Have a great trip, what ever you do, you will have some jet lag.