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jeffrx Nov 12th, 2004 04:24 PM

Coping with jetlag!
We are making our first trip to Europe (London & Paris) in the Spring. We're taking an overnight flight (from East Coast). Is it practical to think we will sleep on the flight? Should we take a Sominex? Or is jetlag not that big of a deal? Also, I've heard it's a good idea to go to be earlier and wake up earlier a week or so before we leave. Will that help?

suze Nov 12th, 2004 04:29 PM

Everyone is different so there is no one correct answer to your question.

Some people can sleep on a plane just fine. Some people will never sleep on a plane under any condition (me!). Jet lag and the significant time change does not effect some people, but nearly incapacitates others (me!).

As far as guessing how it will be for you... does it effect you dramatically when we go on/off daylight saving time? Can you sleep in a car or on a bus? These might be clues to how you will react on am overnight flight to Europe.

Daisy54 Nov 12th, 2004 04:43 PM

A lot of jet lag can be in the mind - you think you're supposed to have jetlag, so you do. It will help a lot if you just don't try to do too much your first day there, and set your watch to local time right away, and resist the temptation to say, or think, back home it is such-and-such a time. Works for me, and I can't sleep on an airplane either. I avoid sleep aids because they continue to make me groggy later when I want to be awake.

TopMan Nov 12th, 2004 04:47 PM

There have been many posts here about jetlag and how to prevent it...a search would be productive.

No, don;t assume you can sleep on a plane.

Don't waste your money on Sominex when you can buy generic Benadryl cheaper (which is the main ingredient in preparations like Sominex...any antihistamine which causes drowsiness will work as well).

Some people find Ambien more helpful for sleep.

Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol.

LoveItaly Nov 12th, 2004 04:56 PM

I sure agree with all the other posters.
One thing that does work for me is that I change my watch when the plane first takes off to the time it is where I am landing. For some reason that helps. And my experience has been after arriving, yes take it easy the first day. And I don't take a nap. Did that once and found that than that night could not sleep than tired the next day etc.

Walking around in fresh air sure helps me the first day after being cooped up in a stuffy airplane. A cup or two of espresso helps also! Eating light but well. Get to bed at a decent hour the first night works, and than find the next day all is fine.

In my case however I get jetlag flying home. Theis is the reverse of what the "experts" say as they say it is harder fying west to east than east to west. But not for me. But think it because flying home (east to west) is the feeling "oh no, the trip is over" and than there is the unpacking, the laundry, going through mail, making phone calls etc. Oh joy LOL.

One thing you have in your favour also is that you are flying from the east coast rather than the west coast which really extends the flight.

I always think ones first trip to Europe is the most wonderful of all. Enjoy every moment!

brenhur Nov 12th, 2004 05:02 PM


As an aussie, I think i can speak through experience. I have travelled to the USA 3 times (14-16 hour flight) and to England once (26 hours). The problem with trying to sleep on the way over, is you have to combat the excitement factor as well.

In my USA experiences, I left in the afternoon in Australia and arrived in the early morning in the USA. I really didn't find jet lag a major issue. I just immediately tried to adapt to USA time. Therefore, set your clock on the destination time and try to sleep in their sleeping times. I am a big fan of sleeping pills. Otherwise, I just cannot sleep. I find that a little sleep is a lot better than none.

As far as the England trip (26hours) is concerned, the jet lag was very very bad. I was very tired for the first 3 days. I was falling asleep early each night, when I wanted to be out doing things. You probably won't have to worry about that.

All in all, I don't think it willl really be an issue for you. Your excitement will get you over your tiredness.

StCirq Nov 12th, 2004 05:13 PM

As has been mentioned, jet lag is a personal thing. Everyone reacts differently - you'll just have to see what works for you.

For me, traveling west to east is a breeze. No, I don't sleep (unless I get upgraded to business or first class, which is very unlikely) - not a wink. But I do drink lots of water to stay hydrated (washed down with a bit of wine), and alternate periods of dozing/resting with brief periods of exercise (such as is possible) to keep the blood flowing.

Vitamin D (which you can get from exposure to sunlight) is crucial. When I get there, after I check in at the hotel I go immediately for a pretty brisk walk, followed by a café stop, just to get me in the "mood" and to have a very strong coffee (which I normally never drink at home). I then keep walking, get myself on local time as far as meals go, and have a nice LIGHT lunch, then more meandering in the afternoon. Around 5 pm Europe time I go back to the hotel and take a long shower and take care of whatever business I need to (phone calls home, e-mail check...whatever), then venture out for an early (and I do mean early, because it's hard to get dinner at such an hour) dinner around 7 pm. I'm usually back at the hotel in my jammies by 9-9:30, watch a bit of local tv, and lights out by 10 pm. Next day I'm good as gold - no jetlag.

Others will tell you a nap is essential on the first day. If I take a nap, I'm toast for the first 5 days of the trip.

East to west is another story. I've never managed to conquer jet-lag going that direction, though I've slowed the effects a bit. For the first four days back I'm a wreck by 3 pm. But I'm not a napper, so I just soldier on and look like an extra in Night of the Living Dead for a few days.

jeffrx Nov 12th, 2004 05:19 PM

Thanks for all the really good advice! I am a light sleeper & I'm sure I'll be too excited to sleep anyway. I'll just take it easy the first day and hopefully be adjusted the second day.

Nikki Nov 12th, 2004 05:40 PM

There are at least two schools of thought about what to do on arrival in Europe to minimize jet lag. Most people here believe that you should keep going all day and go to bed early. For me, after a sleepless night on a plane, this is impossible. Instead I take a nap as soon as I can get into my hotel room. When I get up I can walk around, have dinner, even stay out late at a concert or show because it feels earlier to me. The first couple of nights in Europe I can enjoy the night life because I am not yet fully adjusted. After that I am back to my early-to-bed, early-to-rise natural rhythm.

LoveItaly Nov 12th, 2004 05:46 PM

StCirq, your post is interesting to me as I guess we are the same. And all the "experts" say flying west to east is the hardest for jet lag. Guess some of us just don't fit the profile!

One of my friends in Italy also has this problem. After flying to SFO from Venice he is like a zombie. Truly, at least for 48 hours. But flying home is no problem.

It is interesting how we all have different reactions.

Robespierre Nov 12th, 2004 05:53 PM

My personal formula:

I have a few drinks before/during/after dinner (avoiding long-chain esters such as scotch or bourbon; stick to vodka or gin).

I drink lots of water and take 3 aspirin tablets before sleeping.

I go to sleep a few hours before my usual hour and get a full night's rest.

I don't watch the stupid movies.

This works for me. It may not work for you. Shut up.

hopscotch Nov 12th, 2004 07:26 PM

Jet lag is a big deal. Take a flight which coincides with your normal sleeping time. From the east coast that means take a 10pm flight and not a 5pm flight. Then you can sleep. Fill your belly with pasta and wine. Take an aspirin, which also has reported preventative powers against DVT.

crefloors Nov 12th, 2004 07:29 PM

I fly from the west coast, don't sleep on the plane, am ready for sleep fairly early the first night in Europe. The thing is..I find I am awake extremely early in the morning the next day. I was up at about 4:30. Went for a long walk which was great and watched the city wake up. The bad part of the deal was I couldn't get a cup of coffee til 7:00. THAT part was horrible..I would have killed for a cup. Anyway jeffrx, you've gotten several good suggestions and I think you'll be fine. London and Paris was my last trip and you will just love both those cities. Would love to hear of your experiences when you return.

LoveItaly Nov 12th, 2004 07:35 PM

Oh crefloors, your comment about no coffee in the early a.m. reminded me of the second morning one time in Milan when my DH woke up and woke me up. And before 6:00am we are out walking, ready for morning coffee. Not to be!!!!

Too funny (but not than). Ready to kill is the best description. ~o)

azgirl Nov 12th, 2004 08:13 PM

What works for me is a homeopathic remedy called No Jet Lag. It's made in New Zealand, and I buy it at my local natural foods store. I have also seen it at REI. You chew one tablet on take-off, one about every two hours, and one after landing. I'm leaving for Rome on Friday, and I'm taking it with me.

Hope this helps.

Betsy Nov 12th, 2004 11:18 PM

This is a timely topic for me, having flown from Munich to SFO about 10 days ago. The first leg was a nine hour flight from Munich to Philadelphia, next was a six hour flight into San Francisco. The good news is that for the first time in my life I was able to sleep on the plane. I knocked out major z-z-z's on both flights. The bad news is it took about nine days to get my circadian rhythm back on track here at home. I was waking up hourly for several nights, finally getting out of bed about five am. Naturally, I was asleep on my feet by about three pm. It all seems to have worked out though, and in retrospect I should have been more relaxed about the whole problem. Why did I report this? In case you have a similar pattern on either end of your flight, just be aware that jet lag is not terminal and you'll eventually get back to normal!

Infotrack Nov 13th, 2004 06:59 AM

Regarding jet lag, there are some herbal remedies (such as "No Jet Lag")you can take that MIGHT help (check with or and also your local herbal supplement/nutrition store). I have also seen it in some shops at airports, and it may be available in some nutritional supplement stores.

Also, as soon as you board your OVERSEAS flight, set a watch to the time of your final destination, and start living by that time immediately. A VERY important thing, however, is regardless of how tired you are when you arrive, DO NOT go to bed and sleep unless it is close to normal bedtime at your destination. If you do, you will suffer jet lag for several more days. Stay active to keep awake, then go to bed at the normal (local) bedtime, and the next day you should be pretty much okay. On the flight, drink lots of water, and try to sleep based on the time at your destination.

There is a new product I have heard about, but have not yet tried, called ENADAlert. You take it about an hour before landing, and it boosts your energy level for about five hours. According to the Washington Neuropsychological Institute, who conducted a study, ?Their energy level was restored, as was their ability to concentrate.? It is available at GNC stores in the USA, or by calling 1-800-636-8261. For more information, go to:

Taking a sleep aid that lasts longer than your proposed time of sleep is not a good idea. In other words, don't take something that lasts for 8 hours when the max sleep you will can get is 4 or 5 hours.


travelwoman Nov 13th, 2004 07:07 AM

It strikes me funny that people jump down your throat if you complain about the dollar but nobody says "hey, its jetlag, deal with it and you should be lucky you get to go!" Personally, its no big deal. The first day is tiring but by the next your ready to jump on the metro and head to Sacre Coeur and have some Coquille St Jaques. Pas de probleme. C'est rien la!! Coming home is somewhat tough. Going west aint fun but I never cared much for California anyway. Sorry!

allanc Nov 13th, 2004 07:42 AM

We go to London often, and usually on an evening flight arriving LHR anywhere between 8-11ish. We sleep a little but now we seldom eat the meal and we drink lots of water. We have found the best way to do it is to arrive, check in, shower, and get out of the room. We walk for an hour or so, grab a light lunch, and then just keep going. We have an ealy dinner, say sixish, stay up until 9:30 and then sleep. ALl is back to normal for us by the next day. I find if I sleep after first checking in it takes me a few days to catch up. And....I hate wasting the time sleeping on my first day in London or wherever it may be.

Grasshopper Nov 13th, 2004 08:15 AM

My big problem is 2 AM for the entire first week. Even if I put myself on a local regimin right away, I am wide awake at 2 AM. I get a ton of reading done.

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