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Jet Lag

OK. . . . we are going west to east . . . DFW to Paris . . . about a 10 hr. flight. . . . 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. hat's best way to beat jet lag? Has anyone taken Lunesta, ya' know, the butterfly. I've used it at home with no hangover but they say you need a full 7-8 hrs. sleep. Has anyone used Melatonin to combat the lag?

Hurry, am leaving soon. Thanks

Posted by
324 posts

I have no experience with melatonin. Standard anti-jetlag measures apply -- lots of water or juice during the flight, sleep as much as possible during the flight, and don't take a nap upon arrival.
When I was younger I used to avail myself of complementary drinks during the first part of the flight, sleep it off during the later half, and wake up more or less in sync. I wouldn't recommend it now, however.
You might also want to gradually alter your schedule via light stimulation during the week prior to flight.
Have a good trip.

Posted by
32197 posts

I've tried a product called 'No Jet Lag' but haven't really decided yet whether it works or not? It's apparently an all natural, herbal product.

On my flight last week from the west coast of Canada to England, I seemed to be in reasonably good condition when I arrived, but ran out of energy fairly quickly. The earlier suggestion to stay active for the first day and then keep a normal sleeping schedule is probably good advice, but it still takes me several days to get over the flight.

Good luck!

Posted by
17 posts

Use it all the time (road warrior!) and it works like a champ. Take it with lots of water, approx 1-2 hours before you want to be sleeping and I find that I start to check out just about on time. Not perfect, but less hangover than that double scotch!

Posted by
9099 posts

I've used melatonin. It works, but it can have side effects like intense dreams. But the best way to combat jet lag, is get as much sleep as you can on the plane, once you arrive do as much sightseeing as you can, and try to go to sleep around 10pm. I've found that using supplements just "prolongs the agony". Letting you body clock naturally adjust is best.

Posted by
658 posts

This is what works for me. I don't recommend it for everyone but I travel a lot and it works for me. First the minute you enter the aircraft set your watch to the time zone you are going to enter. Next, before, during and directly after your meal have a hefty helping of complimentary booze. Sleep it off and when you wake up drink as much water as you can. Go to the lavatory and flush it out. When you hit the airport and as soon as you've cleared customs and baggage have a double espresso and some more water. I don't recommend this for children or expectant mothers - but it works for me, every time.

Posted by
479 posts

Al has a recommendation that sounds like it would work. I have the issue that I can not sleep on airplanes. It doesn't matter if I haven't slept for a week, I can not get comfortable enough to sleep. So if I could drink enough to pass out then perhaps it might work.

I do something different. Since I can't sleep I don't try to (anymore). I just go about my business on the plane reading books, watching movies, listening to music, walking around the cabin and doing crosswords.

When I get to my destination I am exhausted. I find that I am able to fall asleep that first night without any problem. The next two days I will be jet lagged. On the first afternoon when I am completely exhausted I take a 30-45 min. nap. When I wake up, my body thinks it's morning. I am more alert but still a little tired. Then I go to bed at a normal time that same night. When I wake up, voila! It is like I never had jet lag.

This works for me, and might not work for everyone.

Posted by
4132 posts

I find melatonin very effective. However, it is a serious hormone and may affect you differently. Try out anything you want to use before your trip to see how you tolerate it.

The standard drill--sleep mask & earplugs on the plane, no booze, reset your watch, etc. is also helpful.

Eat a light carb snack before boarding and skip the in-flight meal & movie; also bring some protein (like a sandwich) to eat in the morning to get you going through the day.

Posted by
19086 posts

I have never used any sleeping aids on trips to Europe. Maybe I am afraid I wouldn't be alert in an emergency. As for Melatonin, I bought it once, but couldn't find out if I was supposed to take it when I wanted to sleep or when I wanted to wake up, so I never took it.

IMO, the best, and, in fact, the only recourse for jet lag (or desynchronization) is to re-synch your biological clock to local time by exposing yourself (NO, not that way!) to early morning sunlight. Some accompanying exercise seems to help, too. Actually, I have found that sitting in a hot sauna or steam room early in the day can help. I think it has something to do with the warmer temperatures your body equates with midday.

None of the other remedies suggested here (sleeping on the plane, plenty of liquids, etc) have any effect on true desynchronization, although they may help reduce the effects of travel fatigue, which is another problem and may exacerbate the effects of jetlag.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello. The minute the plane takes off, I take a 5mg. Ambien, put in the ear plugs, on goes the sleeping mask, my own cashmere wrap over me and I am out for about 5 SOLID hours. I go to Paris every Jan. and sometimes get to use the 4 middle seats. That is a real bonus! When I get to Paris, I tell myself it is noon (whatever is their local time)and I am off. It works for me.

Posted by
934 posts

I can sleep on a plane but my wife cant sleep at all.We stay awake and on our feet the entire first day.Eat an early dinner and then by 8-9PM go to bed.We usually sleep 10-12 hours and wake up the next day feeling good.Im sure everyone is different but this has worked for us many times.

Posted by
45 posts

I know that many people recommend "not napping" the first day but my family and my sister's family all do the following each time we go to Europe:

*Get to the hotel and drop off the luggage
*Go run around for awhile - eat lunch - see some sights for a couple hours
*Go back to the hotel and take a nap for "no more" than 2 hours (set an alarm if necessary)
*Get up - see more sights - have dinner - do some evening sights
*Go to bed at the normal "local time" (yes - we are able to sleep).

If we don't do this - we feel like zombies for the first 2 days.

Have fun!


Posted by
9363 posts

I like melatonin. It doesn't seem to have any side effects for me, it just relaxes me enough to get to sleep. And I prefer it to a chemical sleep aid because it doesn't give me weird dreams or make me groggy the next day. (For Lee, melatonin is the hormone the body produces naturally when it's time to sleep. Taking it as a supplement tells your body that it's night time.) Get as much sleep as possible on the plane, then stay awake all day upon arrival. Tough it out until near a "normal" bedtime, and you should be fine the next day.

Posted by
2788 posts

The last few years, we have taken those "No Jet Lag" pills as directed and have had less problems at the end of west coast to Europe travel. Don't know if we are just getting more use to the trip, if the pills really help, or, if it is all mental.
But, whatever helps.

Posted by
36 posts

You may want to avoid melatonin if you have liver disease. Google melatonin and read about poss probs.

Posted by
93 posts

I use Ambien and it works very well. I go to sleep quickly and wake without any hangover. After wasting money on tours the first day of a couple of trips (trying to follow the advice to stay active), I've decided it works better for me to take a nap on arrival if I am exhausted.

The last couple of times I've traveled, I've had trouble sleeping for a few nights after my arrival. I keep half an Ambien on the bedside table and take it in the middle of the night if I need to. That will give me a good four or five hours of rest. Be careful though, there may be new formulas of Ambien that can't be split.

Posted by
808 posts

Skip the booze. While it might be complimentary and readily available, skip it! Drink plenty of water or at least non-caffeinated drinks. And if you're set on taking medication, DEFINATELY skip the booze. The two don't mix well.
Some people prefer to be sedated and swear by it. But from a safety stand point, it's not such a good least not TOTAL sedation! Emergencies CAN happen and impairment CAN lessen your ability to evacuate successfully. I've seen this "jet-lag solution" posted and played out so often.

The most important safety feature of any aircraft is the Flight crew. In an emergency, we give you a shouted command, how well will you be able to preform? Industry standard is to successfully completely evacuate a 747 Jumbo in 90 seconds or less. If you're OVERLY sedated or intoxicated you could easily become a hazard to yourself and other passengers.

It's all about safety...

Posted by
79 posts

This is a topic on the grafitti wall, and you may want to check it out if you haven't already. From that topic, I've decided (for my trip next week!) to start resetting my clock now. I've been gradually waking up earlier, and (trying) to go to bed earlier. By our departure date, I hope to wake up by 3 AM. Luckily, we have an afternoon departure, so that will help because I will have already been awake for over 12 hours by the time we take off and I will hopefully be able to sleep.
I know I'll probably experience a bit of jet lag still, but hopefully I won't have 9 hours to make up, I'll only have 4-5. Plus, by being up really early, hopefully I'll be so tired I won't have a problem falling asleep on the flight. My theory is, if I adjust here at home, I won't have to do it when I'm trying to have fun! :) I hope it works!

Posted by
47 posts

I wear earplugs and a face mask and don't take or drink anything special. I try to sleep but I never get more than a couple hours. The best thing for my wife and I is to nap for an hour or so upon arrival, then get up and shower. If we plan on doing a bunch of sightseeing our first day we always disappoint ourselves and fall asleep too early, missing dinner. If we do the nap and shower straight away, we end up doing a lot more sightseeing than intended and we're perfectly in sync, eating and sleeping in line with the locals on the first night. I'd much rather have a nice, energetic day beginning at 2pm than an exhausted, pushing-myself-until-I-grind-to-a-halt day that ends early.

I don't like the "sleep at 10pm" idea -- in Europe the locals start eating at 8 or 9pm and stay for a couple hours. A 10pm bedtime means one of your precious dinner opportunities is rushed, with tourists instead of locals, or even missed entirely.

Posted by
3 posts

I notice some of you say to drink lots of water and my son emphasizes to stay hydrated. My concern is having access to water and other non-caffeinated beverages now that we can't carry liquids onto the plane. Several years ago I traveled to Germany and the plane was full, the attendants were busy and we had trouble getting anything to drink. I am planning a Thanksgiving trip to Germany to visit my son and his family. My plane lands about 7:00 a.m. and my son plans for us to do tourist things that day, so if I don't get some sleep on the plane it will be a miserable day for me. A nurse advised taking an allergy pill that causes drowsiness (as a sleep aid) so I plan to do that.

Posted by
3580 posts

Travelers are allowed to carry EMPTY water bottles through security. I routinely take a clear pint-size plastic empty water bottle through security. I put it into the bin with my coat and plastic bag that contains liquids. Last time I flew the security attendant made an obvious comment to a co-worker that the bottle was empty. After clearing security I fill the bottle at a drinking fountain. Sometimes the flight attendants don't come around with water when you want it, but during non-busy times passengers can walk to the "kitchen" area of the plane and ask for water.

Posted by
100 posts

I always drink a lot of water on the plane. I have noticed that international flights have an abundence of water. If I go to the bathroom and it is near the galley I will ask for a bottle. I have also found that staying up upon arrival is the best. You will feel like crap but it is worth it. I don't have any difficulty sleeping so I don't need anything to help me. -Kim

Posted by
3 posts

Even though it may differ with the particular airline and flight crew, with the restrictions on liquids now I expect water should be readily available on long flights. I like the suggestion to carry an empty plastic bottle. I don't want to be a demanding passenger, but will be aggressive getting water if necessary. With the dry airplane air, and if I take an allergy pill which tends to dry, I know I will want plenty of liquid. Because I hope to sleep I will avoid caffeine early in the flight. I don't know how long before landing breakfast will be served, but about that time I will be comfortable indulging in caffeinated drinks and hope to be "rearing to go" after landing.

Posted by
1 posts

I returned from India 4 days ago and all I want to do is sleep. I just can't seem to stay awake. I have one more day then back to work. I started today pretty well, but at 2:00 started sleeping again and was amazed to discover it was 8:00 pm. when I awoke. Not fun.

Also, my chiropractor was adamant that not enough is known about the long term factor regarding melatonin. But people who travel a lot swear by it.

Posted by
67 posts

I never am able to sleep on planes and have tried melatonin and prescription sleep aids to no avail but just this week I went to my local health food store and found a product called "Tranquil Sleep" by " Natural Factors" is a combination of 5-HTP, suntheanine & melatonin and for 3 nights now I have used it and slept like a log ! I have sleep issues in general and with an upcoming overnight flight I wanted to find and try out sthg before leaving ...everyone's bodies are different and therefore react differently to various products so what works for one person may not necessarily work for another so try a product at home first before you leave...this one works for me...good luck !

Posted by
2349 posts

I agree with Connie and Craig who like to nap on that first day. We got settled in our hotel, went for lunch, and went back for an hour's nap. Did some easy sightseeing and dinner, and were in bed around 10. The rest of the trip we felt great. This may only work for those who benefit from naps in their normal life. Some people can never nap.

BUT-take an alarm clock! There's nothing worse than needing to lay down for an hour, but being so afraid you'll sleep the day away that you can not fall asleep.

Posted by
112 posts

My husband and I took our children on a trip to Europe last summer. We had a connection in New Jersey and then flew to London. I expected that once on the plane they would immediately feed us dinner and then tuck us in for the night. WRONG!! They had a beverage service, followed later by dinner service. We found it difficult to sleep afterward because the airline never turned town the cabin lights. Worse yet, they went through the cabin with a pushcart of duty-free stuff they were peddling in the wee hours of the morning (London time). Consequently we arrived in London absolutely exhausted from having little to no opportunity to sleep on the plane. It was a nightmare. My recommendation is wear comfortable clothing on the plane, and definately bring a sleep mask, ear plugs and a neck pillow.

Posted by
335 posts

I have used No Jet Lag with great success on several trips from East Coast to Europe - it works great as long as you FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY. If you skip a pill or sleep much, it doesn't seem to work as well. I get mine at Whole Foods but I've noticed some travel stores also carry it. Once I arrive, I keep (gently) active the first day (with a very short nap if absolutely necessary) and then go to bed at a reasonable time (for that time zone). I also take Melatonin for the first 4-5 nights to help me sleep well.

Posted by
515 posts

For me, no sleep aid, since I cannot get comfortable anyway. I do take a blowup pillow and ear plugs just for light dozing...drink lots of water and maybe an orange juice or two. Avoid too much salt, don't eat heavily, and walk the aisles often. When we get to destination, we hit the ground running. To hotel, check in or leave bags, then off to see whatever, then to bed at regular time and great night's sleep. For us the problem with jet lag is the return to the states...aarrgghh...we give ourselves extra day or two before return to work.

Posted by
50 posts

My first trip to Europe I made the mistake of attempting to get my body used to the time a week before and ended up exhausted and sick. However; if you are like me and CANNOT sleep on a plane...I stay up the entire day and night before my flight, roughly 24-30 hours awake and then pop a Melatonin after I've cleared security and I'm out for the flight, waking up a couple hours before we land. And my morning routine is similar to that of my hangover routine...pop a couple ibuprofen, aleve, and drink a redbull. Works like a charm for me but best of luck with your routine!!!

Posted by
50 posts

My first trip to Europe I made the mistake of attempting to get my body used to the time a week before and ended up exhausted and sick. However; if you are like me and CANNOT sleep on a plane...I stay up the entire day and night before my flight, roughly 24-30 hours awake and then pop a Melatonin after I've cleared security and I'm out for the flight, waking up a couple hours before we land. And my morning routine is similar to that of my hangover routine...pop a couple ibuprofen, aleve, and drink a redbull. Works like a charm for me but best of luck with your routine!!!

Posted by
1158 posts

I used No Jet Lag a few times and it seemed to work pretty well.I never use any of the crappy sleeping aids.
Try to stay awake the whole day you fly out. No naps during the day. That way you get tired and it will be easier to fall a sleep dring your flight.
About the water. I always carry a little empty aluminium bottle thru the security. This bottle keeps my water cold.You can buy water after you pass the security or use the one you are given in the plane. They have enough water on board.Just ask for it.

Posted by
6 posts

I highly recommend earplugs and a face mask. What I find is, you want to fall asleep for as much of the flight as possible- skip coffee on the way to the airport etc- crash out as quickly as possible- drink lots of water (as others have said) Melatonin helps chill me out- but doesn't put me totally to sleep-
I strongly suggest not napping once you get in country. This is when you want the cafe au lait or black tea or something- it really helps get you on time much faster than napping and confusing your body more. I made that mistake my first trip abroad years ago and spent a rough rough week in Florence paying for it. Above all, accept that you will feel lagged- there's almost no way totally around it- it's part of the experience, take that into consideration and plan easier things for the first couple days and use it as an excuse for more rests in lovely cafes!

Posted by
12172 posts

My techniques:

Try to adjust my sleep schedule an hour or two in the weeks before the trip.

Put my watch on local time at my destination as soon as I'm at the departure airport and think in terms of the new local time (I never ask, "What time is it at home?") during the trip.

I take one Excedrin PM, or equivalent when it's time to get some sleep. I never take any sleeping aid any other time so it seems to work pretty well.

The first day on the ground I plan to stay active. Lots of outdoor walking rather than indoor sitting.
I'm not a napper so I don't plan one. I stay up until a decent hour, maybe 9 pm, then go to bed. After a good night's sleep, I'm pretty much ready to go.

It's harder for me coming back, which I've attributed to lack of excitement about going back to the daily grind.

Posted by
518 posts

Someone said you cannot take water bottles on board. You CAN take bottles of water that you buy after passing through security. We buy several bottles at the inflated airport price. It's worth it to us to have ready access to our own supply.

Posted by
118 posts

Won't leaving at 5 p.m., and arriving at 930 a.m. help with the jet lag? I am taking the same flight from salt lake, but it gets in at 11 a.m., and thought leaving at night, when I should be sleeping would help with jet lag. I can usually sleep on planes so I'm hoping I will find energy to actually site see my first day in Paris!

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello everyone. (Except Dr. John. He went on his trip to Europe 17 months ago). The title of this discussion thread is "Jet Lag". But there are two issues. First : a lack of sleep (being in a airplane all night when flying across the Atlantic Ocean from America to Europe. Second issue : Jet lag. That is what a person experiences, being in a different time zone. I experience Jet lag when I return to my home in the U.S.A. My first night at home I awaken at 2:00 A.M. Because that is 9:00 A.M. in Europe. Or I might awaken at a time that is earlier than 2:00 A.M. That is jet lag. For me, the worst problem is what to do the day I arrive in Europe (in the morning, after the night flight from America). If I stay awake all day that day, and go to bed at 10:00 P.M. that night (as Rick Steves suggests), I will have been awake for way too many hours, that might cause brain damage. But if I go to sleep in a hotel that day, in the afternoon, and if I do not set an alarm clock, I am at risk of sleeping for 8 hours, and awakening that evening, and not be able to sleep that night. I did that in my trip to England. It ruined my trip. I slept only one hour in the airplane at night. My first day in England, I slept 8 hours, awoke at 10 p.m., feeling good, but I was awake all night. In the morning at 9:00 A.M., when I began a tour in a mansion, I felt very tired, and I felt tired and miserable all day. On my next trip to Europe (in May of this year) I will try to become asleep soon after the airplane lifts off. I will swallow an herbal formula that should help me to relax. I will eat a big meal in the airport before that flight. And I will tell the flight attendant that I do not want to receive my dinner, and I do not want to be talked to until morning. I use wax ear plugs, and eye shades. At my destination, if I feel tired, I will sleep for one or two hours, in the middle of the day (I will set an alarm clock). Does anyone have a better idea ?

Posted by
12040 posts

Ron- sounds reasonable (but don't worry about suffering brain damage if you stay awake too long). The body sets its endogenous clock through cues from the sun, mainly relying on level of light to determine the sleep/wake cycle. When this changes suddenly, either chronologically or geographically (ie, changing level of sunlight at lower versus higher latitudes), the body can not adjust instantly. It takes about a month to completely reset, but most casual travelers only notice the effect for a few days. One other thing you can possibly do to start adjusting your internal clock before you travel is to gradually go to sleep about 10-20 minutes eariler every night starting about 1-2 weeks before you travel. Of course, there's a practical limit to how far you can adjust yourself beforehand, but at least you'll be a little ahead of the game when you arrive. Then, stay outside as much as possible on your first few days, particularly around sunset.

Posted by
1425 posts

Ron, I don't usually have any success sleeping on the plane over. Maybe a few short catnaps. I've tried both napping the day I arrive and on my last 2 trips just managed to stay up and awake til 9 or 10 pm. For me, staying awake works much better than napping, and I adjust much more quickly -within 1 or 2 days. I found when I napped the day of arrival it took me 4 or 5 days to totally adjust. I'm an RN and I'm pretty darn sure that staying up for 24 hours won't cause brain damage 8:)

I'm with you in that I seem to have more trouble adjusting coming back home, but I think that's because when I arrive there I'm pretty excited to get out and explore. Good luck!