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travelquestion Jul 14th, 2003 04:40 AM

Can you stay up all day after an overnight flight to Europe?
On a recent trip to Europe, I did not sleep a wink on the plane. We arrived at our hotel at 10:00 am and wanted to go to bed so bad. Though all the experts told us to stay up and tour and not go to bed until 9:00 pm.

That day was a living hell, both of us were so tired. Sick tired! Everytime we sat down I almost fell asleep in the chair. Finally we started to drink coffee to keep us awake, and got really jittery. Then the headaches started.

Once we got back to our hotel, we fell asleep at 7:00 pm, by mistake, woke at midnight and could not fall back asleep. Our body clock was ruined for the rest of the trip. There has to be a better way. But how?

Dick Jul 14th, 2003 04:46 AM

The "trick" is to get some sleep on the plane.

We started getting up earlier and going tpo bed earlier a few days before our flight. On the plane were were able to get enough sleep to keep us going the next day without any problem.

We noticed that some of the "regulars" that make this flight on a regulare basis...travelled in loose, comfortable clothes and/or used sleeping shades to assist them and tried to sleep soon after takeoff.

ira Jul 14th, 2003 04:47 AM


Some of us find that taking a nap in the early afternoon gets our clocks back on schedule.

At other times we have been so full of adrenalin that we didn't fall asleep t'il near midnight.

Anonymous Jul 14th, 2003 04:49 AM

Oh, dear, what a shame! It sounds like you would've been better-off taking a nap.

You will get plenty of suggestions here for how to get some sleep on the plane, which is really the best strategy.

I also start shifting my internal clock before I leave -- get up a little earlier each morning. But I'm a morning person anyway.

Finally, I never drink coffee -- but I do accept that cup that's offered an hour before the plane lands!

Many people suggest that the first day be spent outdoors, so you get sunshine and fresh air, which will help reset your clock. If yu're ot up to alot of hiking around, this can be a great time to take a tour on a double-decker bus, sit on top but don't fall asleep!

elaine Jul 14th, 2003 04:49 AM

Each person is different and the "experts" don't all agree.

If you were feeling tso tired you felt sick, you should have napped for a couple of hours. You would have woken up feeling groggy, but a shower and a snack and coffee might have helped that. Then you plan one late afternoon activity, have a moderately early dinner, and go to bed 10-11pm, feeling okay by the next morning. That's plan A.

Plan B is to not sleep all day as you did, but not to lie down at 7pm--you have to keep going until at least 8 or 9, and then call it a night. A glass of wine or a brandy or at dinner, or an over the counter sleep aid, could have been enough to relax you for a full night's sleep.

I've tried both plans many times, it simply depends on how I'm feeling, what time my hotel room is actually available, what I have planned for the first day or evening, etc etc.
I don't sleep well on planes--if I get 2-3 hours sleep I consider myself very lucky, usually I get less than that.

elaine Jul 14th, 2003 04:52 AM

I meant to add, you could consider next time taking a flight that arrives in your European destination in the early evening. Then you have dinner and go to bed, with less internal clock-adjusting required.

Sher Jul 14th, 2003 04:58 AM

I am one of those who cannot nap after arrival.
I try to get some sleep on the plane. After the early morning arrival, I just keep going. I stay up until 10 or so, it is difficult, and then the days fall into place for me.
The first time I traveled to Europe, I napped upon arrival and then got turned around for the rest of the trip. Like you did. We were up until two in the morning and then asleep at one in the afternoon. Awful!
It is so different for everyone. I know that I cannot nap.
Maybe you should have taken a very early nap. As Elaine says, you would have been groggy, but the 7:00 nap was just too late for you.
It might take two or three trips before you find what is best for you.

Degas Jul 14th, 2003 05:13 AM

I try hard to get at least a little sleep on the plane, drink plenty of water and not much booze, and don't stuff myself on the flight.

If I feel tired, but not too bad off upon arrival, then I take a shower in the hotel and go outside for some sun and a long brisk walk. I may pop in and out of a few museaum or churches, but basically try to keep moving until early evening when I have a big meal, a drink or two and then head to bed. I always sleep through the night for 8 to 10 hours.

If I'm feeling really bad upon arrival, I take a shower and a two hour nap and then force myself to get up and get moving as outlined above.

IMHO, the worst thing you can do is go to sleep immediately upon arrival for anything more than a short nap. Even that is risky as many folks just can't get back up.

dln Jul 14th, 2003 05:19 AM

I fail to see why you forced yourself to stay up even though your body was telling you otherwise. What possible enjoyment did you get out of that day? Where's your common sense?

cheriegal Jul 14th, 2003 05:29 AM

A friend of mine - who is a doctor - gave me wonderful advice about traveling to Europe. She said to get some Ambien ( a prescription drug for sleep) drink a glass of wine with dinner on the plane, take an Ambien and you will sleep all the way through. I stay up the next day - take another ambien that first night there - and you are totally back on schedule. I have done this on our last 4 trips to Europe and it works like a charm. Now my husband and friends we travel with follow the same routine. It works for all of us.

Lola Jul 14th, 2003 05:38 AM

Sheesh! What kind of doctor would advise taking a sleep aid and drinking??

Intrepid Jul 14th, 2003 05:46 AM

Believe me, Ambien doesn't always work..I know because I tried it once.
We have been told that drinking alcohol is not a good idea if you want to minimize the jat lag but that drinking plenty of fluids is a good idea. There are a lot of folks who are unable to sleep on a plane..or at least sitting up and I'm sorry things worked out the way they did.
The next time you might try some of the more constructive suggestions above and disregard those that are of no value.

sandi_travelnut Jul 14th, 2003 05:47 AM

There's nothing wrong with a doctor prescibibg a mild sleep-aid....I took a 1/2 of an Ambien on a flight to Paris and got about 5 solid hours of sleep (with a crying baby next to me). I awoke with no groggy, drugged feeling. Arrived in Paris at 10am and walked till 11pm. Sleep on the plane makes a world of difference.

ellenem Jul 14th, 2003 05:54 AM

I think it depends on how well you nap. My exhusband was an excellent napper--he would fall asleep in the taxi on the way to the airport... he could sleep through takeoff. On the other hand, if I nap in the afternoon, I am completely disoriented for the rest of the day. He could wake from a 20-minute nap completely refreshed.

We both avoided any kind of artifical stimulants on the plane--no wine or coffee, only water and plenty of it. As soon at the dinner service was over, we both settled down to rest. While he was completely zonked out, I would try to sleep, using an eye mask and ear plugs to lessen cabin noise. I can't sleep on a plane, although I can get about half way there, which is somewhat restful.

On arrival, we did not nap, just showered and changed clothes. Our usual touring schedule was out all day though not to important sights, running on adrenalin and a great lunch. Back to the hotel around 5PM to relax a bit before dinner. He would take a 1-hour nap while I read or tried to nap--we would set the alarm so we wouldn't sleep til midnight by mistake. Then we'd go out to dinner and early to bed. We always set the alarm so we wouldn't sleep too late in the morning--didn't want to miss those open-in-morning-only sights.

bookchick Jul 14th, 2003 05:59 AM

Like Elaine, sometimes I can & sometimes I can't manage to stay awake. On my two most recent trips to Rome, I didn't have too much problem, but I also had the motivation of having business meetings at 1pm that day! On my 2002 trip to Rome, I was kind of run-down, and did need to nap in the afternoon for a couple of hours. The rest made all the difference in the world, and I was able to stay awake until about 1am. Listen to your body, and treat it accordingly.

Happy Travels!

marty Jul 14th, 2003 06:02 AM

Unfortunately, the only way to find what works for you is to do it several different ways. Fortunately, you get to travel to find out what works! I am so pumped up when I get there, that I don't even want to shower. I usually have to take Tylenol PM to get to sleep on the first night in Europe. There is some good advice here, but staying up has worked with everyone that I have taken to Europe with me, whether they slept on the plane or not. The first day may be hard, but the goal is to be on track by the second day. Try some Bendryl on the plane, so that you at least drowse some, even if you don't fully get to sleep.

capo Jul 14th, 2003 06:04 AM

I like what Elaine said: how each person is different, the "experts" don't all agree, and how what works may depend on how you're feeling on that particular arrival day (and other factors.)

Like Elaine, I don't sleep too well on planes. The couple times I have slept on planes however, on flights to Europe, it has helped tremendously in fighting off that feeling of wanting to sleep soooo bad. (One time I actually slept a lot on the plane because I had been up all night before doing last minute packing and planning. I wouldn't necessarily recommend that strategy but sleeping that much on the plane let me almost sail through the day of arrival without the craving for sleep.)

The last couple trips I've tried the "No Jet Lag" homeopathic (I believe) capsules and they *seem* to have had some positive effect.

On my last trip, about a year ago, my girlfriend (who had never been to Europe and experience that kind of jet lag before) & I essentially did Elaine's "Plan A", taking about a two hour nap after arriving at our locanda, after sleeping very little on the plane. That seemed to help as, after fighting off the getting-up-from-a-nap grogginess, we were quite fine the rest of the day and managed to ease into our normal sleep pattern that evening.

Bitter Jul 14th, 2003 06:16 AM

The advice you received was valid. Fortunately, adrenaline helps to keep us awake during the first day. Also, we try to stay on our feet (the first day is not the best to spend on a bus or train, for example).

jor Jul 14th, 2003 06:53 AM

I can not fall asleep on an airplane and have found myslelf running around my European destination city all day and really regreting it. On my most recent trip I took a sleeping pill just before boarding and guess what? I still could not fall asleep and was a walking zombie the next day!

RufusTFirefly Jul 14th, 2003 07:17 AM

I guess I'm lucky. I'm always so pumped up when I arrive someplace that I can go all day with no problems at all, whether or not I slept on the airplane.

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