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Jet Lag

Ah, the traveler's friend, Jet Lag.

So, oft the top recommendations go as follows:

Stay Awake

Wait Until A "Reasonable" Time To Sleep

Caffeine Is Your Friend

Well, I respectfully offer far different advice.


Go To Bed Early

Water Is Your Friend. Consume Caffeine Only As You Would At Home


Personal experience and those of my travel companions. Having tried both techniques, we vouch for the later.

A 20 minute nap or even 2 hours leaves one refreshed, happy, and headache-free while taking in the new sites. (If you have traveled to a siesta culture, bonus: everyone else is napping anyway!)

Going to bed at 4pm or 6pm the first night may have you up early, yes. Then you can enjoy all the wonders found during the early morn in any given location and be first to the cafe! Likely, you may just wake at your normal wake time.

Extra caffeine may give you a momentary boost, but will undermine your night sleep and may make you as irritable as alert.

Too oft, my friends, family, and I followed the first set of advice only to stumble groggily and grumpily through a town, enjoying little.

Once, the sleep deprivation, aka jet lag, triggered a psychotic episode for one of us. This person has a pre-existing mental health condition and has since traveled extensively and happily by following the second set of advice.

Add an extra day to tour travel if you can to simply rest and reset your travel weary self. Or see the opportunity to nap in a hotel, cabin, homestay, etc as a treat!

It is far better to miss a few hours of dazed touristing and then energetically enjoy the remainder of your time.

Be safe! Be happy! Under the fog of jet lag you are at increased risk for any number of ill events. Losing tickets or money, being pick pocketed, stumbling on that hike, making a disastrous wrong move in that rental car or just having a bad time and creating bad relations with others. While sleep deprived, you are less alert and less happy.

Take a nap! Go to bed early! Drink water!

Travel safe. Travel happy.

Posted by
3904 posts

I've tried going to bed early, woke up at about 3 am. Tried going to bed later, woke up at about 3 am.

Tried drinking water, didn't alter a thing so I may as well enjoy the wine anyway if the resulting effects are going to be the same.

I fly long haul in domestic or first class, even with 6 hours sleep on the flight I'm still affected by jetlag.

Melatonin will send me to sleep but I'll still wake up at about 3 am.

There's not much to do at 3 am wherever you are.

I've just resigned myself to the fact that jetlag hits me whatever I do and the first few days are a struggle.

Posted by
4855 posts

Perhaps we can all vote on this? nomadroams, respectfully, I and many others have had the opposite experience. Taking a nap when you get there, and later going to bed, means waking up at 4 AM wide awake, and then, ready for bed again about 3 PM.

I think this is wrong: " . . . the sleep deprivation, aka jet lag. . . " Its not the same thing. Your body has internal clock(s) that need to be re-set. Your digestive system, sleep triggers, heart, thyroid, etc., all have rhythms based on a diurnal schedule, triggered by light for one thing. By changing time zones, it throws everything off. So you might not feel like dinner when your body thinks it should be the middle of the night. Or your energy peaks at the normal time back home, not in sync with where you are. That's jet lag to me, not just being sleep-deprived. The general advice to not nap, etc., is to get your body on a new diurnal schedule. Perhaps you're young enough to push through.

Agree with this: ". . .Under the fog of jet lag you are at increased risk for any number of ill events . . . " and thats consistent advice with what's given here. Like many, I write off that arrival day as one to not plan to do anything significant, certainly not to drive a car.

Posted by
791 posts

Naps obviously don’t work for everyone, but I have found them useful at times. And the way I have dealt with waking up at 3 AM is by taking a 4- hour antihistamine at 3 AM when I wake up, or else taking a sleeping pill when I go to bed, which generally gives me 8 to 10 hours of sleep. I certainly haven’t found a perfect solution; looking forward to more trips to Europe so that I can keep practicing my sleeping skills. One of these days!

Posted by
20565 posts

Not sure why a first time poster posted this given that it is a frequent item of discussion with no firm resolution. Two schools of thought and one or the other seems to work for most people. It just depends on which one is your preference. For years we were stay awake, walk, be in the sun, go to bed early, etc.. Worked so so but not well for us. By accident discovered the two hour nap in the afternoon with bed around 10 pm or so. Works like a charm for us so that is what we do. And the other thing we try to do is time shifting in the preceding three, four weeks. That helps even more.

......sleep deprivation, aka jet lag,....... Sleep deprivation and jet lag are NOT the same thing or even close. Jet lag is related to the your internal bio clock of night and day. That needs to be reset to match local time zones.

Posted by
3317 posts

I will respectfully differ from your advice and say that each person individually needs to do what works well for them.

My husband needs the nap when he arrives. I’m the opposite and need to go out in the sunshine to acclimate - no nap or only 20 minutes late afternoon. Neither of those work well for the opposite person.

We happily have our routine when we travel together. I explore and come back to the hotel a few hours later when he’s ready to go out, too.

Posted by
1031 posts

Can I add to list of at risk behavior for first day.... buying something ugly and expensive (partly because you can't manage currency conversion)🤢

Posted by
3317 posts

Doric8, there’s more to that story! What did you buy? ; )

Posted by
919 posts

I suspect everybody's sleep clocks are different and so no perfect solution. I'm wired to be moving non-stop and so I've always hit the ground running after an overnight flight. We usually explore for a few hours and then catch a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon then up to eat and explore and then bed by 10:00. No trip yet that we weren't up and ready to go the next day feeling fine and acclimatized to the new time. Coming home though, I'm screwed up for 1-2 weeks with sleep patterns all over the place.

Posted by
1031 posts

Jean, I know there have been ugly things as well
...but in Mexico I bought a lovely table runner for 39$, misplaced the decimal point on my mental math.... it was $390.....oops. still lovely.

Posted by
4153 posts

It's an individual thing, for sure. Jet lag and sleep deprivation are indeed different things, though their interaction makes the situation worse. I've found powering through the first day (without driving or doing anything very taxing) works, followed by an early night with a pill. Others obviously have different experiences. Do what works best for you.

It would be nice to put this often-discussed topic to bed (so to speak), or take a vote as Stan suggests, but that won't happen. Meanwhile I'll try not to lose any sleep over the issue. ;-)

Posted by
26 posts

I'm looking at a trip BOS to Varanasi - 11PM to 2:45PM - 30 hours, 2 stops so 3 flights. Since I sometimes have a hard time actually falling asleep, I anticipate a bunch of naps with the aid of a pill or 2 and just winging it when I get to Varanasi. I take it as kind of a giggle since one can't worry too much about it - it just happens as it does. I may try using acupuncture magnets on points as described on the web - sometimes acupuncture works for me, sometimes not. But, "go with the flow" will be my mantra. Hmmm I wonder if saying a mantra would help..... Ommmmmmmmmmm. News flash - person thrown off plane for saying Ommmmmmmmmmmmm. :) Nite! - The problem with drinking water is the effect it has and, sitting in coach, one really doesn't want to encourage that effect! :)

Posted by
2585 posts

I’m so fortunate that I’m not bothered by jet leg, but by 9-10:00pm the first day I’m ready for bed.

Posted by
486 posts

You have to find something that works for you. It's clear that people respond differently. Having tried different things, we find that what works best is to get what sleep you can on the plane and then act like it's whatever the local time is at our destination. We don't try to do much on the first day. Typically, we arrive in the morning, check our luggage at our lodging, and then go out to have a look around until check-in time. Sometimes we just crash after unpacking. If that happens, we go with it. We wake up in time for dinner, if not before.