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Jet lag, looking for personal experiences

I am wondering if I am flying out of Toronto at 9pm going to Edinburgh overnight and I sleep the whole night, does jet lag occur?? I'm thinking if I sleep overnight like any other day and when I wake up there its the morning, its not like anytime has passed and I dont have to adjust to a new dark/light cycle. But then again I have never flown over seas.

Posted by
258 posts

Well it may be depending on the person. I did the same thing as you are describing - left in the evening and slept most of the way there. I was perfectly fine when I arrived in London and actually did not go to bed until about 10-11pm that night. No time to waste when you're in Europe. Have fun!

Posted by
505 posts


The problem with the Toronto-Edinburgh flight is that it's likely to be only 6-7 hours long. Based on my experiences flying New York to Edinburgh, it's hard to get a full night's sleep because of the short duration.

By the time you get airborne, have dinner and they dim the cabin lights, you may get 3-3.5 hours of sleep before the lights come on and breakfast is served.

If you want to sleep, bring along a sleep mask/earplugs, choose a seat away from galley areas and eat prior to the flight (let the flight attendants know so they don't wake you for the meal).

I've never been successful at really sleeping on Edinburgh bound flights and usually crash as soon as I arrive. I'm not missing out on sightseeing and could probably make it a bit woozily through the day.

It really depends on you, but I would not count on a full sightseeing day, and anticipate on some jet lag.


Posted by
19148 posts

You might want to read this article from the Mayo clinic. Basically, your body is on an approximate 24 hr cycle where pulse, breathing, metabolism, body temp, mental acuity, etc, slow down when you are supposed to be sleeping and speed up when you need to be awake. This process is adjusted by daylight, not how much sleep you got on the plane. When you leave at 9 PM it will already be 2 AM in the UK. During the flight, nothing changes with your body clock, so when you arrive at 9 AM local time, you body still thinks it is 4 AM and functions are depressed significantly. That night, say at 11 PM, you want to go to sleep, but your body functions are at 6 PM, not ready for bed.

Jet lag is not the same for all people (I think a "morning person" does better when flying to Europe), and can vary with the same person from trip to trip. Further, a five hour difference (Toronto to Edinburgh) is not as bad as, say, Denver to Munich (8 hours).

Posted by
225 posts

You will have jet lag even if you're well rested. The jet lag is based on the difference in time between your point of departure and arrival. If you sleep well (I wish I could), you'll be well rested, but your body will still be 5 or so hours out of wack due to the time change (jet lag). If you're well rested, it won't take you much if any time to make up for the difference in time.

Posted by
11507 posts

Troy, I don't think jet lag will be that much of an issue for you since your flight is only from Toronto to Europe, the time difference is not that bad,, I bet you will bounce back pretty well after a day or so. You may not even notice it much as jet lag as noted does not affect all people equally. I think it gets harder as we age, but that could just be my own experiences.

Posted by
990 posts

I agree that it varies a lot person to person, and it seems to get worse with increased age. I don't have much of a problem with a five hour time difference myself, but anything from 8 hours or more and it takes me a day or so to recover enough to enjoy myself fully.

Daylight is your friend in adjusting--don't wear sunglasses and stay outside as much as possible during your adjustment period. And try not to nap, if possible--if I can gut it out through the 4 pm to 8 pm period on European time, I'm usually OK to make it to a "normal" bedtime around 11 or so. Getting onto a normal sleep schedule in your destination city helps a great deal.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you for the replies everyone.

I just spoke with someone at my work who goes to Scotland every year or so and they say that the first day there is ok due to excitement and sleeping on the plane, but the problem comes at bedtime when my internal clock would be hours away from thinking about sleep. She says because of that the second day there is worse than the first. Is this so?

If I was planning one pretty mellow easy day due to jet lag would it be best to make that the first or second day there?

Again thanks for all the help!

Posted by
368 posts

After two weeks in Tokyo and Arriving back in Calgary (east bound, so same concept, but you have to deal with the international dateline) made me feel like I was on another planet for about 2 days. I have a very hard time sleeping on a plane (getting better these days though), so I often end up being at the end of my rope by the time the plane lands on a transoceanic flight. My wife manages to sleep the whole way, and she isn't nearly as wasted as I am...

Here is hoping I am able to manage our trip to Europe this summer. We planned a pretty low key first day in Paris after arrival and then a train to Amsterdam so I think I should be able to get back to normal before the heavy duty 'fun' starts.

Posted by
9363 posts

I felt the same way coming back from China to Chicago (13 hour flight). But I have no problem with shorter eastbound flights. I just sleep as much as I can en route, go to bed at my usual time, and I'm fine the next day. Coming back I don't even try to sleep since it's a daytime flight.

Posted by
10331 posts

I flew from the West Coast to Germany and did what you describe, sleeping at "night" to simulate being in Europe already. Arrived around ten in the morning and didn't go to bed until after midnight. I never really felt jet lag, not even on the second day. I was probably just so excited to be there and wanted to do everything. Going home was another story... Maybe after traveling almost a month I should have taken some time off when I got home, but I hate to waste my vacation days. My plane arrived around ten at night (flight was way later than scheduled) and I had to be a work at 6:30 the next morning. I was out of it for about a week.

Posted by
5678 posts

I've done Chicago Glasgow several times. Do use the face mask and ear plugs. Even if you have some dinner on board you'll need them in order to ignore the movie. I would advise against napping. Instead try to have some activities for the first day that involve being outside. Maybe tour the Castle, or go for a city walk. Explore the Botanic Gardens or walk the Water of Leith. I always try to stay awake until 9 PM and then I take a tylenol PM to make sure I sleep the whole night. The next day is easier. This is what works for me, but as others have said it may not work for you.

Enjoy your time in Scotland!


Posted by
808 posts

I've often operated flights from YYZ-EDI, BFS/UK etc departing at a similar time. Most of our flights to the UK depart at night. It's good b/c you leave at 2100h and fly for lets say six hours so it will be like 0300h YYZ time and 0800h Scotland time.
I'm usually so beat after the Flight that I fall asleep in the Limo to the Hotel. I usually read the morning paper over a decaf tea and then have a nap until I naturally wake up about two hours later.

Your flight time will probably be under 6 hours depending on whether or not it is direct or non-stop. Some passengers don't know the difference between the two. If you need that explained, just ask.

Safe Skies,


Posted by
83 posts

There are lots of good suggestions here and jet lag definitely is not fun. It is good to consider jet lag, but then just do what you need to do and forget about it. If you think you're going to get jet lag, everytime you yawn, you'll think you have it. The best advice I have is to do your best to adapt to the new time zone when you're there even if that means staying up all day while you're tired. When you feel yourself starting to go down, take a walk and/or eat something and you'll feel re-energized. I say listen to yourself "it's not like any time has passed and I don't have to ajust to a new dark/light cycle". Keep thinking like that and you're already one step ahead.

Posted by
335 posts

I work with professors who travel frequently and one recommended I try No-Jet-Lag pills for my flights to France. (Available at Whole Foods stores and some places that specialize in luggage/travel accessories) They work really well for me, as long as I follow the directions (1 at takeoff, 1 every 2 hours during flight, 1 at landing). If I skip one, as I did on a return flight once, I get jet lag. When I reach France, I'm tired but not zonked out. I try to have an easy day the first day, get a good night's sleep, and then am fine. I hope this works for you!

Posted by
13 posts

I recently flew to Paris from Dallas/Fort Worth (a nine hour overnight flight). I managed to sleep a few hours on the plane and felt reasonably adjusted to the time when I arrived. I was REALLY tired by 9 PM the first night, got a good night's sleep, and woke up the next morning feeling fine.

Posted by
524 posts

I've never had an issue with jet lag travelling TO Europe. Maybe that has to do with the excitement of travel, leaving my job behind, etc, I don't know.

When heading back home though, it's a different story. Last time it took me a full week to recover after a 10 day trip to Ireland.

Most of what I have read about combatting jet lag agrees with what several others have stated here. Daylight and darkness play a role, so try to manipulate that. Definitely the laws of nature play a large part - traveller age, day/light cycles, rotation of the earth, etc.

You know what they say: Don't F*** with Mother Nature! But if messing with Ma Nature is necessary to travel to Europe, I'm willing to offend her now and then and suffer the jet lag consequences.

Posted by
332 posts

Congratulations on your first trip overseas. while the time differance between Toronto and Edinburgh is not that great, you may be affected. When I was in my 20s and 30s I was not affected by the time differance. I was always too excited when going overseas. I would stay up on the flight over and the whole first day there. One thing I have started to do when we started taking the kids was to get up a little bit earlier each day before we left. My thought was that it would help them adjust their body clock to more closely match where we were going. This seemed to work for all of us. This method is cost and drug free. Has anyone else tried this?

Posted by
269 posts

I have (so far) never had a problem with jet lag. As most others on the board seem to agree, it does differ from person to person, but if you don't nap when you reach your destination and try to get on their schedule ... in other words, stay up at least until dark out ... then you'll generally be fine. You might be a little tired the first day, but you'll be fine for the rest of your trip!

Posted by
31 posts

1) get your packing done early so that you can get a good night's sleep the night before.
2) don't expect to sleep at all on the flight. if you do sleep that is a bonus. unless you buy 4 middle seat and can lie down, it is hard to get comfortable, even if the crying baby is not in the row behind you.
3) as soon as you are in the air, set your watch to destination time and quit trying to figure out "what time it is at home" or how many hours you've been awake.
4) get some noice-cancelling headphones and use them to watch the movies or listen to soothing classical music.
5) hit the ground walking, not running. keep mildly active the whole day of your arrival, eat a good evening meal and retire to your room to shower and fall asleep.
6) wake up the next morning and go full speed ahead.
7) no alcohol on the plane and a relatively small amount the first night.
8) your usual source of caffeine in the morning.

Posted by
769 posts

jys got back from a long trip on SWISS air = biz class. Used miles. Other than more space - the same symptoms seem to pop up during travel coach or biz... a sort of headache that I now know is not just from all the free drinks! hah... i skiped the free-movies in the mini-TV and read instead. Worked well... but still got a headache after the last 1/2. On the way back i drank lots of juice before and duing (along with a little free wine!) and again skipped the TVs... went almost the whole way before the fatigue headache started creeping in but a quick advil helped along with more snaks and drinks! I also take the "No Jet Lag" tabs and Aire-borne before and during and seems to help some... but sleep depravation and getting up super early to get to airport is porbably all part of the game! Relax as much as you can and prepare early to avoid stress...!

Posted by
769 posts

also - i second the idea of staying up until late dark the first place you get (and have a good nite sleep before you leave). That way youre tired enough to sleep through. then excited enough the next day to get going!