My wife and I are taking our first trip over the pond in 3 days!!! Any advice on how to deal with the jet lag would be great. I was considering a sleeping pill, but from what I have read, it is not recommended. Thanks!
I've luckily never experienced jet lag. I've just tried to get some sleep on the plane and then when I get there "I'M IN EUROPE!!!" usually wakes me right up :)
If you took an overnight flight you will probably get to your destination in the morning. I would suggest just go about your day and perhaps go to bed a bit earlier than normal. I would explore all day and then go to bed about 9 the first night. Have a wonderful trip!
I agree with Kelly, but want to add that I do take 1/2 a 10 mg ambian right after they serve dinner. I never sleep well, but I usually do get 3-4 hrs of fitfull sleep. also, I always take sleeping pills when I'm in Europe. I get a good night's sleep & wake refreshed. I find hotels to be noisy as most have thin walls. It's not the outside noise that keeps me awake, but the inside noise. If you have used sleeping pills in the past, you might want to consider it.
Jet lag, to a certain extent, is unavoidable for most people. More important, however, is recovering as quickly as possible and not letting it disrupt your travel plans.
First of all, realize that what we call "jet lag" is the summation of three factors that make you feel overly tired. Understanding these can help you adapt. One, the simple act of travel is tiring. Two, while traveling between time zones on a plane, you probably will not get your normal nightly allocation of restorative sleep. Third, your normal sleep-wake cycle is set by cues your brain receives from the sun. When we travel to Europe, we often change latitude (different cues from the sun) and our internal sleep-wake cycle is out of sync with the sunrise-sunset cycle. Thus, we start to feel more tired eariler than we would at home.
So, how to adapt? First of all, avoiding the fatiguing factor of travel is somewhat unavoidable.
Second- try to get as much sleep as you can on the plane. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to feel restored in the morning. "Banking" sleep (ie, trying to oversleep one day in anticipation of getting less sleep the next night) does not work. So, getting a full night's sleep on a plane is unrealistic, but every bit helps. Sleeping pills can actually be quite effective, although you need to know before the flight how the pill will affect you so that you can properly time your dose- if you take too much or too late, you may be too groggy upon arrival. For most travelers, I do not recommend over-the-counter sleep aids, because most of these use a sedating antihistamine. This may be appropriate for someone with chronic sinus congestion, but for most people, it will dry them out- the air inside a plane is dry enough. Finally, limit your intake of alcohol. Although alcohol can induce a light sleep, it prevents you from entering the deeper stages of restorative sleep. (cont...)
Third, help your brain re-set it's internal clock. You can start adjusting before you leave by gradually going to bed earlier and waking earlier each day (although with only 3 days to prepare in your case, I wouldn't bother). The most important thing to do upon arrival is to maximize your exposure to the sun. Although it takes about 2 weeks to completely adjust, if you stay relatively active outside over your first 2-3 days overseas, your body should adjust well enough that you won't feel any further effects.
Fourth, make sure you recover from your sleep deficit on your first night. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up a little later than usual.
To reiterate, the important thing is not to try to avoid jet lag altogether (not realistic), but to limit the damage to the first one or two days of your trip.
A doctor once would not prescribe Ambian for me when flying to Europe because he felt that in the event of an emergency I would be better off if I were "alert". In the event of an emergency 35,000 feet over the Atlantic, the last thing I want to be is "alert". Now, having changed docs and trying Ambian, it offered a few poor hours of sleep for me. I think the conventional wisdom also has one avoid alcohol and drink lots of water to combat jet lag. Best to try and get on the new schedule ASAP; sometimes a brief nap upon arrival can't be avoided, but hit the road and stay up until a reasonable bedtime. Have a great time on your first trip! BTW..where are you going?
I agree with Kelly.Going there isn't the problem for me. I've always taken an over night flight, sleep on the way (without meds, just music) and as some one said in a previous post some where "hit the ground running".. but.. go to bed fairly early that evening, between 9 - 10 pm.Its a different story after the day time flight home, I am miserable and out of sorts for days and once even vowed I would never go back again! Like that would happen! Off again in Aug..it is so worth those few miserable days after!
We are going to Munich first, then Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels....I know it is a lot for 12 days, but we do have some flexibility.
I have never been able to sleep on an airplane and, for medical reasons, am unable to take medication or over-the-counter aids to help. When I was younger, I would push myself through to the end of the first day and then crash early. However, this last time, with DH, we followed the advice of someone who goes over quite frequently to visit relatives. We checked into our hotel after arriving in mid-afternoon (we're flying from the west coast - 9 hours), set the alarm for two hours, fell asleep and then forced ourselves up when the alarm went off. That seemed to enough to take the initial surface of the tiredness off us so we could then function in the evening. (We went to bed at 10 PM and slept relatively well for the night.) Enjoy your trip!
It is also noteworthy that one should take a medication that has a sufficient half life (sedative effects) to last the length of the flight. Therefore something like Ambien lasts for 4-5 hrs and you may lie awake for 4 hrs(Mid Atlantic Ocean) while Ambien CR lasts or Lunesta 3 mg for about 8-9 hrs. On a related note, since you are "immobile" for 8-9 hrs, there is an increased risk of DVT( Deep vein Thrombosis-Blood Clot in the legs) consider TED hose or ambulating throughout the flight, especially if there is a preexisting medical condition. Safe Travels and have fun!!
I'm going on my seventh trip to europe, and I don't recall having any major problems with jet lag - maybe a day or two of feeling wide awake when I should be going to bed. My big suggestion is that once you get there, give yourself a bedtime and a wake-up time for the first few days and stick to it. Even if you end up lying in bed awake at first, forcing yourself to lie down and be still and then get up in the morning is the best (drug free) way to readjust your body clock.
Also, if you want to try to stay awake the first day you get there, plan an activity that's more physical. You'll want to just sit down and go to sleep if you go to a museum, but if you take a walking tour or a bike tour or climb up a church tower it will send the signal to your body that this is "awake time". And as previously mentioned, don't feel bad about going to bed early or taking a nap!
I always set my watch to the local time when the plane takes off. I try and sleep on the plane for a few hours and walk around a little to stretch. Then try to sleep a little again. I drink water and juice until the morning (overnight flights). Then hit the ground and go out exploring when I get there. I usually try to do a lot of walking around during the day so I'll be a little tired when it is night time. I try not to think about what the time is back home...
But going back to the US, it always seems to take a few days to get used to things again and not be tired during the week.
I had almost no jet lag when I arrived on my latest European trip, and I think it might be because I created a "night" for myself on the plane to match the time in Europe.
My flight left Detroit around 7 PM and was supposed to land in Amsterdam at 9 AM Amsterdam time. As soon as I got on the plane in Detroit I changed my phone to Amsterdam time and set about convincing my body that it was really 1 AM. I put on my eyeshade to block out light, put in ear plugs, and took 1 mg of melatonin, a hormone available over the counter in the US. I normally take 2-3 mgs of melatonin before bed each night, but I took only 1 on the plane because I had also taken Bonine to prevent motion sickness (it works!) and I wasn't sure how the two would interact.
I didn't accept dinner and just dozed as much as possible, making sure I kept myself in the dark. I did accept breakfast about 5 hours later, including coffee. Once we landed, I was able to put in a full day of sightseeing and went to bed thoroughly but happily tired at 10 PM.
Have you already read the MANY posts to this question that you will find under Graffiti Wall - Archived Topics - Jet Lag? I hope so.
Rick's suggestions are right on the money. My wife and I can't sleep on the plane, and we don't worry about it anymore. We re-set our watches to local time on the flight, drinks LOTS of water, do something active as soon as we land, and make sure that we do not "hit the hay" before 9-10PM.
The worst problem for me is how caffiene and alcohol affect me if I use them the day before and the day of the flight. Coffee on the day after has the same problem; I can't re-set my internal clock if I partake.
First of all, make sure that you get plenty of sleep for the next few nights. Consider packing early so that you don't fret about it the night before you have to leave. As soon as you get on the plane, adjust your watch to whatever the local time is at your destination. Try to get into a European mindset. Try and get a few zzz's on the plane and drink lots of water. When you get to your destination make sure to spend some time outside. The light and the fresh air will do wonders for convincing your body to switch to the new time zone. Avoid the urge to nap. Get a decent meal for dinner and try to stay up until a reasonable hour that night. Go to bed and get a good night's sleep and wake up rarin' to go the next morning. Plan a couple of easier days to start your itinerary. Enjoy Europe to the max!
We always fly at night, when we wake up, it's the next day, and even though there will be some jet lag, it's much less. Keep in mind I do this every other year with my now 12 year old, and it also works great for him.
I fly from west coast, so I need to sleep( flights from here always leave in evening it seems and arrive in morning).
I take a sleeping pill, its actually not a sleeping pill , just an anit anxiety pill, but it relaxes me enough to sleep( anitvan) . Works great. I have also used and had my son use meletonin( doctors suggestion) and it works great too. Neither of these "knock you out", but you will likely sleep on them. I put on a mask and ear plugs too.
I then keep busy on day I arrive and try and stay up.
At 35000 feet , if something goes wrong, DO NOT wake me up,,, I do not want to hear all the screaming all the way down.. LOL