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do I sleep on the flight?

It is my first trip to Europe. I leave the westcoast USA at 6PM and arrive in London about 1:00 PM their time. I was told both to take a sleeping tablet on the plane and not to sleep - stay up until late London time. Which works best?

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the great feedback! I'll try to sleep on the plane then stay vertical until London bedtime. Thanks!

Posted by
11450 posts

Perhaps you misunderstand the advice. The advice is to sleep ON THE PLANE ( especially from west coast) then NOT sleep once you have landed,, stay up till at least 9 pm,, which is hard as you will be tempted to nap.

I always try to sleep on plane.

Posted by
162 posts

Sleep on the plane - this is your night-time. You wouldn't skip a night's sleep at home, why do it on your holiday? Some people drink themselves to sleep, but this is worse on a plane because the effects of the alcohol are greater at altitude (the plane is pressurized to about 1000 m) My advice, avoid caffeine and alcohol on the plane, drink fluids because it's so dry in the cabin and sleep.

Often jet-lag is mistaken for fatigue. The effects of jet-lag can be decreased by being well rested. And once there, never worry about what time is it back home, just get onto London time as soon as possible.

Posted by
7 posts

I do plan to sleep on the plane now, and stay up once I arrive until bedtime there. Thanks for the info on caffiene, alcohol, and drinking fluids on the flight. Great tips - thanks!

Posted by
3419 posts

I fly from the east coast, but I don't think it will make a great deal of difference. I DO sleep on the plane. We leave around 8:00pm local time and arrive around 9:00am London time. I usually get about 4-5 hours sleep. It's like a late night. My husband usually takes a dramamine and I often have a glass of wine with my meal (he doesn't eat supper on the plane). We get to our hotel around 10:00-10:30 on a good day. We hit the ground running and are usually ready for bed around 10:30pm London time. We seem to adjust with minimal jet lag.

Posted by
1003 posts

i've never seen anyone here give advice not to sleep, I can't imagine how that would help you. The thing that helped me was to not nap the day I arrived. I forced myself to get outside and wander around and go to bed at a normal time (England time). I arrived in England about the same as you for my first big overnight flight. I woke up ok the next day and the only "aid" i used was a mild antihistamine-type pill, which i'm not convinced does anything for me anyway.

Posted by
504 posts

Sleep on the plane if you can. Getting extra sleep on a trip is always a good idea. I'm afraid that flying and sleeping don't work well for me.

Posted by
113 posts

Dav and I have the same problem. I have never been able to "sleep" on a plane. I take occasional naps interrupted by annoying waking. However, I do seem to be able to stay alert and awake for the rest of the day until local bedtime and get a pretty good first night's sleep. I also avoid the caffeine and alcohol and drink juice and water.

Posted by
8410 posts

When I fly I change my watch to the local time of where I am going. Then I just tell myself that is what time it is. Is your flight direct from I presume Portland - London? You might want to try a product called Simply Sleep. It is made by Tylenol and is essentially Tylenol PM without the pain reliever. Taking that, plus earplugs (or Ipod) to help mask noise should help you sleep. And you are right - staying vertical is necessary when you arrive. I have flown to Europe 3 times in 3 years. Each trip involved changing planes twice and arriving in the morning. First trip I was up past midnight, second and third trips we were in bed by 9:30 or 10:00. Luckily I have not suffered from jet lag. Until I get home anyway... :-)

Posted by
875 posts

I try to sleep on the way to Europe but am not always successful, even with Ambien. Discovered on this trip that I can take a whole Ambien, and it works well, and I'm still feeling fine by arrival time.

Posted by
2154 posts

I can see where it makes sense to stay awake until night time once you get there, but I have found a short nap (1-2 hours max.) in the early afternoon (if you have the opportunity) is helpful. I normally don't sleep particularly well on planes, so that nap keeps me going until 9 at night.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you use a sleeping pill, make sure know what dose and timing works best for you before your flight. You want to balance getting as much sleep on the plane as possible against being zonked out when you arrive.

Posted by
21 posts

Hello:

I am not actually sure if I slept on the plane or spent six hours staring at the inside of my eyelids! Our flight from Vancouver left at 8:30pm and by the time we ate dinner (and I did eat because I hadn't had dinner before the flight and it seemed like the right thing to do) and finished watching our first movie it was 10ish and the flight attendance turned off all the lights, had us all lower the window shades and "try to sleep". My daughter had a window seat so she curled up and slept leaning against the side of the plane. I tried to sleep but everytime the fellow on my right shifted, I woke up (assuming I was actually sleeping). I was worried that I would be exhausted but actually felt great that first day in London. I must have dozed a little bit, because although I did not feel well rested, I didn't feel like I pulled an all nighter either.
When we got to our B&B we quickly freshened up and then went for a huge walk along the Thames, saw Big Ben, etc etc.,very excited, very happy. We eventually fell asleep at 10:30 or so but woke up at 4am completely awake. This is the only jet lag I experienced. I could stay awake but I couldn't stay asleep!
So: Yes, sleep on the plane, but don't worry too much if you are only dozing (or staring at the inside of your eyelids like I did).
And yes, stay awake that first day in London and go go go until as late as possible. And it won't be hard because London is so fantastic.

BTW my daughter was only 7 and she had no problems with jetlag at all.

Posted by
1357 posts

Walk as much as you can the day you get to London and drink a lot of water. Take self-directed walking tours, it's a good way to get the "lay of the land", and it'll keep you awake, too.

Posted by
39 posts

I, too have the same problem as Mr. Tom and Dav, I cannot sleep on the plane (fear of flying...tho I fly cuz I want to travel :). A friend suggested I try "Badger Sleep Balm". It's a lavender & bergamot scented balm with the aim to relax you to sleep. It works really well to help me to sleep on the plane, so that I am less tired when I arrive. I also make sure I get out and start sightseeing once we check into the hotel. Then I go to bed with the local time in mind.

Posted by
11798 posts

I usually try to adjust my sleep times an hour or two before the trip to help aclimate.

When you arrive at your airport in the US, change your watch to local time in London. Think only in terms of local time there for eating and sleeping. I usually eat a light dinner then try to sleep.

I take one Excedrin PM, which is plenty for me because I never use a sleep-aid any other time. I like the blindfold for the plane and some soft tunes to cover the noise and conversation on the plane. I use a blow up pillow but only partially inflate it to where it's comfortable.

I'm hoping for six hours sleep on the flight.

When I arrive, I stay busy until a decent bed time (hopefully at least 9pm) then get up at a normal time and get moving.

The first day is often a little hazy. The second isn't as bad but you can still feel the effects of jet lag. Usually by the third day, I'm on my new schedule.

It's worse for me going home because I don't have the exitement factor to help me through jet lag.

Posted by
780 posts

I always try to sleep on my overnight flights to London. As long as I get 4 hours of some kind of sleep I will at least be somewhat coherent the first day. For instance, If I get into Heathrow at noon UK Time, its about 5 am my time. By the time I get to my hotel, its about 2 pm. I shower and get something to eat. Im usually so excited that I couldnt nap even if I tried. I usually do a few things like take the tube somewhere, say Hello to Big Ben and the Thames, get one of my fav "Thats Life" Cheap and cheesy UK trash magazines, stop at the drugstore and get my toiletries, stop at Tesco and get something to eat for dinner and for the morning, then usually by then its 9 pm and I am completely exhausted when I get back to my hotel. I then go to bed, wake up around 8 am the next morning and im on track the rest of the trip. Coming BACK to the US is the hard part, waking up at 3 am and getting to work early, tired by 2 pm, but its not like its ruining my trip!

Posted by
1274 posts

I have never managed much more than a few minutes of dozing on a plane. Last summer, for the first time ever, I had no jet lag at all when arriving in Rome. In the days leading up to my trip I set my alarm a bit earlier each day, and went to bed a bit earlier. It worked for me.

Posted by
35 posts

On the way to london I eat dinner, and then take three tylenol PM's to get a few hours of sleep. Then I go to bed at 10pm ish in london. On the way home, I take redbull, exercise, and walk around. Stay up all day and flight. By the time I get home and unpacked it's bedtime and I'm beat.

No jet lag on either end.

-Brett

Posted by
1399 posts

Does the neck pillow that goes around your entire neck help people sleep? I know that I nod forward, and it disturbs me - is this helpful for sleep?

Posted by
2154 posts

I think the neck pillow helps immensely. I bought a Nap one at Brookstone, and I really like it.

One other thing -- I would not recommend taking 3 Tylenol PMs. I usually take just one, and I could see possibly taking two, but if I took 3, I don't think I could function the rest of the day. It may depend on how much you weigh.

Posted by
1035 posts

I generally can't sleep on the plane. This trip, I'm going to try what scientists say works for rats: Don't eat for about 16 hours and then eat as soon as the plane lands in London.

Supposedly fasting like this resets one's internal clock. It is a backup safety mechanism when the circadian clock set by exposure to light is overridden by the need to find food. If an animal is hungry, it will be able to adjust to different times in order to forage for food.

My wife thinks I'm nuts. She says she could never go that long without food, but all this means for me is that I eat breakfast on the day we travel and then not eat anything until the next "morning." I think I can do it.

Posted by
780 posts

I cant go that long with no food. I just know that the sunlight will help your body clock reset. Even with little sleep on the plane, i go out all day and go to sleep that night and am on track the next morning. Never had jetlag yet. I think taking a nap when you get there will hamper your body from resetting its inner clock.

Posted by
504 posts

Another thing you can try is to start shifting your activities ahead of time. Start a week before, if you can. Get up, eat meals, and go to bed an hour earlier each day. We tried that before our last trip, and I think it helped.

Posted by
5574 posts

Here are some other tips for sleeping on planes. I find that it really helps to have an eye shade and to use ear plugs. Even though the plane is dark, the movie is running and there people moving about. Wearing the eye shade tells people that you are sleeping. I also find that it helps to have a bottle of water as I often get thirsty in the night. Pam

Posted by
11450 posts

Paul,, sounds like a good way to mess up with your blood sugars,, I think I would just plain old faint away... My doctor said to maintain good blood sugar levels one should aim to go no more then 4-6 hours without food( does not mean stuff yourself) .. unless you are sleeping of course!

Posted by
643 posts

We took a 9pm flight from Seattle to London nonstop with British Airways last fall. I slept a good 4 or 5 hours on the flight, and we landed at 2:30pm at Heathrow the next day. We got to our apartment just before 5pm and by 6pm we'd unpacked and were out the door to walk around and see a little bit of London. We had dinner at Pret at 6:30pm and went to Victoria Station to the tourist office (which turned out to be tiny and not really worth it). By 8pm we were feeling pretty tired and took a shower just before 9pm and went to bed by 10pm. We were wide awake by 5am the next morning!! And got up for breakfast at 7am and were out the door just before 9am to go to the British Museum by bus. It was great to be out early in the morning!

Posted by
445 posts

Because I fly from Newark to Heathrow on a regular basis, I have a different problem. The flying time is too short to have a decent sleep! I usually leave about 9:30 pm EST and by the time you finish the dinner service, etc., there is really very little time left! My last flight was actually 5 1/2 hours!!

I might doze off a bit but no actual good sleep. The next thing you know they are serving breakfast!

But I have always managed to keep going the whole day in London until normal local bed time. From then on, I am fine!

One tip: avoid alcohol on the flight and buy a bottle of water before boarding to keep hydrated.

I suffer terrible jetlag after the return home probably because my flight departs Heathrow at 4 pm.
so by the time I get home it is after midnight London time and I can never get to sleep right away.
I can never understand how people can go to work the next day!

Posted by
780 posts

I have the same problem, Maryann! By the time i get back to Denver, its 5 pm, which is really midnight to my UK time brain. Then I cant sleep because im excited and in a weird fog because im home, and the first time I actually went to work the next day and I wanted to die. Last time, I took the day off afterwards.

Also, does anyone else notice this weird phenomenon of still feeling like youre on a plane even when youre finally home? I mean after a non stop 9 hour flight I still feel like im moving somewhat for a day. Maybe im just weird but it happened to me both times already!

Posted by
7 posts

Fabulous tips, tricks, experiences and advice everyone - thanks for sharing!

Posted by
1035 posts

Follow up to my earlier post about fasting for 16 hours as a way to beat jet lag ----

Well, I tried it. I didn't make it for 16 hours, though, only 12. Still, although I was very tired the first day, I didn't have that strange, hung-over type of feeling that I recall from other bouts with jet lag. I had no trouble going to sleep at the regular time or waking up at the regular time and on day 2, the time felt normal. Morning felt like morning should, and so on.

I'd be very interested to hear the conclusions of any other hardy souls who attempt the fasting route. If you are worried about the health and safety of going without food at the normal times, you may want to read up on fasting. I'm lucky. I can go without a meal if I know I'm going to do so beforehand. Going without two is a little bit harder, but not impossible. (And lest anyone feel envious of my control over easting, two meals is about tops for me and, yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds, which is very hard to do.)

Posted by
7 posts

The fasting sounds very interesting - but not for me. Yes, the loss of pounds would be a lovely benefit; however, I once fainted at work because I skipped both breakfast and lunch. Low blood sugar issues. Think I will stick to the juice and a snack on the plane! ;-)

Posted by
98 posts

I try to sleep on the plane too, just to make those long flights seem shorter, but I do find it hard to actually sleep restfully. Last time I went to London, I arrived around noon and felt like a zombie for the rest of the day. I guess the key is to stay on your feet until it's nighttime in London and then sleep so you adjust faster. I'm going to try out some of these tips here.

Posted by
251 posts

Our flight heads out of Washington Dulles around 4:45 p.m. and we arrive in London at 6:55 a.m. This will be my first international flight. My sister thinks we are crazy for even traveling all the way to London since we only have 4 days. She thinks we are just going to be exhausted the whole time! But she's never traveled international either. I plan to take a Tylenol PM right before dinner is served. It works well for me here at home, even on nights my mind is racing because of stress. I know I'm going to be so excited anticipating our time in London. But I don't want to feel groggy after we land, so I might just take one tablet and hope to get 2 or 3 hours sleep on the plane. We have excellent seats by the window, so we won't be crowded in by other people on our left and right. Do the seats in coat recline any more than on national flights? I told my husband we can lay on each other and switch seats with each other to get more comfy!

Posted by
31318 posts

Deb,

Everyone seems to develop their own method for dealing with jet lag. You might want to have a look at Europe Through The Back Door, as there are some suggestions there on techniques that Rick uses (basically sunshine and exercise when arriving in the new time zone).

The "fasting" method wouldn't work for me either, as I'd have to deal with two areas of discomfort - the lack of sleep as well as the hunger. I prefer to keep somewhat of a regular eating schedule when travelling.

There's a natural product called No Jet Lag that's supposed to minimize the effects of jet lag. There are lots of glowing testimonials from satisfied users, but in my experience I'm not really sure whether (or how much) it works?

I often nap on the plane when possible, but I haven't had much success at actually "sleeping". I usually want to watch a movie or two, enjoy a hot meal and sometimes visit with other passengers.

One final point to mention - you may find that the jet lag affects you worse on the trip home. That's been my experience so far. I can usually be up to "touring speed" in a day or so when arriving in Europe, but after returning home it's usually a week or two before I feel normal again.

Happy travels!

Posted by
445 posts

Whatever you do, NEVER take a nap when you arrive at your hotel!! Since you arrive so late in the day, you don't have that many hours before you can go to bed. Just get outside and keep moving!!!

On my last trip(arriving at 9 am) I had to go straight to my friend's house where she was having a family party!! That kept me awake!!!

One other note...I know people say to adjust your bedtime before leaving and be well-rested before your
flight, but that never works for me. I find I have so much to do at the last moment that I really do get
sleepy on the flight. I also might have a little wine with my meal which helps. But generally avoid alcohol.

Never have any problem on the second day.

Posted by
2349 posts

I have to give an opposing view to Maryann's. If you can't function well if over-tired, it's ok to take a nap when you arrive. Just don't sleep for hours. We got to our hotel at 11, checked in, and went for lunch. We were all silent at lunch. Went back, had an hour nap, showered, and went out. Really, if we'd tried to walk around we would have been hit by a bus or been at each other's throats. We had dinner, got to bed at a decent hour, and were fine the next day.

Posted by
81 posts

All I can say is Yes Yes Yes! Several times that I have travelled, I couldn't sleep because I was so excited. It was hard to get through the first day but stayed awake when I arrived until I fell asleep local time. The next day, felt like new. If you can sleep on the plane...do so! If you can't, then try to relax as much as possible!!!

Posted by
14 posts

Cindy,
Be super careful with the Tylenol PM. I would consider taking it even earlier than dinner time. It takes a really long time to get out of your system and you might end up feeling even worse when you arrive.

Posted by
57 posts

I fly seattle to London...economy.So in the steerage section, sleep can be elusive although I try. I agree that you should sleep if you can, but you will be so excited on your first trip you'll do fine regardless!If you get in at 1pm, you will probably get to your hotel right about checkin time (2-3pm). Since the dinner hour over there is typically a bit later than in the states, if you're weary, take a couple hours to relax before going out to dinner.

Posted by
46 posts

My 1st trip to europe also - any advice for flying from NZ to london, approx 25 hrs flying time, plus a 6 hour airport stopover halfway through??? Time difference 12 hours. i think i will be totally messed up. i do night shift work and am useless for anything for 48 hrs after finishing my last night shift. suggestions?

Posted by
1 posts

I'm in LA and the best thing to do when and if u leave around noon-4pm our time is to go to bed early the night before and set your alarm for 4am and make yourself wake up. Then by the time you get on your 10 hr flight you can watch a movie eat dinner and have a cocktail and water. By then your so tired you fall asleep, With the help of eye patch and ear plugs. So when you arrive in the morning you have had a full nights sleep. usually I wouldn't say to drink but I have a huge fear of flying and have to in order to even get on the airlane.

Posted by
29 posts

I am in Vancouver so when I fly to London, I try for 2 days before[I prefer to fly sun-tues and if possible take a day off of work before I go to do so] to wake eat and sleep like I am in London, this includes going to sleep at 2-4 in the afternoon (10pm - midnight GMT. The idea being that when I am on the flight my body will thing I have been partying all night and it will not be merely a case of trying to recover from the night before being merely a "late" night to recover from, my body will think that it is 4 am and I should be asleep when my flight leaves at 6 pm. I may not get a full 8 hrs on the flight but I will be able to usually get 6 which gets me rested enough that I can hit the ground running when I land.

Cheers

Elaine

Posted by
52 posts

I fly out from the East Coast also, and cat nap on the plane. Never full out slept on a plane. Ok once when I had a whole row of 5 seats to myself I did. Now tomorrow night might be different as my "nightly" meds now make me sleepy.

Do NOT take anything until you are in the air and the cabin attendants have turned out the lights. I can't tell you the number of people who pop a pill as soon as they get to the gate, so it will go into effect by the time the plane takes off. Only for the plane to be delayed. Those people have been left behind. Wittnessed that one more than once.

This is usually what I do.

Don't go to sleep right away. Store your luggage and hit the day running. Most likely your room will not be ready when you get there anyway. But most places will store your luggage. When your room is ready around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Then take a cat nap. Get up later for a night out.

MSN.com has this up on their website:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32543594/ns/travel-tips/

Posted by
27 posts

I've both slept, and no slept on the way there. I fly from Buffalo, which always connects through a major US Eastern airport before flying to Europe. usually JFK, Charlotte, or Atlanta. The flight is usually 6-7 hours.

When I flew to Germany the first time, the plane was mostly empty and I had an entire middle row to myself, which I laid down on like a couch and slept for 5 hours. I got no jet lag at all. I was tired, but not too much and kept going until 10PM in Germany with no problem.

Then the next few times I fly over to Europe I couldn't sleep at all. I can't sleep sitting up. I got terrible jetlag when I got there. I felt sick, sluggish, and had a headache.

One tip I do have, is no matter what you do, on your first day there, DO NOT under any circumstances go to your hotel and lay down. It will be temping to say, "I'll just lay down and relax for a few minutes", or "just a quick nap". You will not get back up, and if you do, you'll be so sluggish and tired you simply won't be able to do anything constructive.

So whatever you do, stay busy the whole day. If you lay down for a rest, you will fall victim to the jet lag and be knocked out the rest of the day. Get a Red Bull and keep on truckin!

Posted by
38 posts

Coming from New York to Dublin, Mayself and 2 friends had taken a dose of sleeping tablets and were all set to sleep the whole journey.

20 minutes into the flight they started to kick in, but so did the child in the seat behind us! Non-stop laughing, crying, kicking the seats, messing with our hair, throwing things etc etc. not a single wink did any of us get. the mistake we made?? should have given the tablets to the kid!!

Posted by
1170 posts

Sleep on the plane and get ready to hit the ground running when you get there. Otherwise, you will be exhausted when you arrive and your first day will be a bust.

Posted by
147 posts

I try to sleep but can't. No matter, you just stay awake until it's bedtime Ireland time. Most folks wakeup and are on their timezone. Coming back was much harder for me

Posted by
349 posts

I have done this trip over 30 times with mixed results . One piece of advice no matter how you feel at 4pm dont buy a ticket to go to a play. I have spent many dollars for a nice 8 pm nap

Posted by
1 posts

I'd rather they just knock us all out and stuff us in tubes for the duration. A wash cloth and a cup of coffee would be perfect just before landing. Trying to figure out which pills work best is impossible because no one knows a thing about you. If you can sleep, do it. If you can, take a direct flight pdx to a hub in Europe without stopping on the east coast.

Posted by
251 posts

I personally could not sleep on our flight to London Heathrow. We had some unforseen things happen to make us miss our connection in Washington Dulles, so by the time we got on the plane, we were exhausted. This was our first international flight and I learned some things. Like taking out my contact lense (the cabin air for that long a flight is much too dry), drinking more water, and maybe taking ONE Tylenol PM. I stared at that map in the seat in front of me practically the whole way, wishing the plane would inch along a little faster! I think next time I'll take an early morning flight.

Posted by
80 posts

I'd recommend getting up and walking around a lot. I got a blood clot in my leg after returning from France. My welcome home was a night in the hospital, shots of Lovenox in my stomach (self administered) and now a year of taking Coumadin to thin my blood. Not to mention paying out my $4,000 deductible right after returning from a $12,000 vacation.

Posted by
9110 posts

What else can you don on an airplane besides sleep?

Posted by
46 posts

We flew Singapore Airlines from New Zealand to the UK (24 hours flying time), then Istanbul back home (22 hours flying time). My husband's concern was that there were so many movies to choose from he didn't have time to watch all the ones he wanted to see!

On the way over we left mid morning and I stayed up for the first 11 hour flight plus the 6 hour transit at Singapore. Then managed to sleep 4 hours and doze another 4 hours on the second (13 hour) flight. We arrived at Heathrow early in the morning, kept busy and drank coffee that day, and went to sleep 8pm that night. No jet lag after day 1.

On the way back we left early afternoon and I couldn't sleep at all on the first 13 hour flight. We were totally shattered when we arrived in Singapore for our 12 hour transit so we paid for a airport hotel room and slept for 5 hours before taking a free tour of Singapore. Then dozed another hour on the second (9 hour) flight, arrived home in the morning, made myself stay awake till 8pm. Slept well that night and no jet lag after day 1.

I thought I was going to really struggle with jet lag (my first trip to Europe) but it turned out not to be a problem at all. Easier than working night shift!

Posted by
2349 posts

For those of us in the US, the Thanksgiving holiday is tomorrow. You have just given us another reason to be thankful. Europe is not a 24 hour flight away!

Posted by
31318 posts

Chris,

I haven't found jet lag "easier than night shift". I originally thought that as a shift worker for many years, I'd be able to handle jet lag easily. However, especially on the way home, I've found it MUCH more difficult to deal with than night shift (on my present schedule, I work two days and then two nights, which isn't too bad - retiring in March so won't have to worry about it after that).

Cheers!