Favorite cures (prevention) for jet lag

Old Apr 24th, 1999, 08:10 AM
  #1  
Jeff
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Favorite cures (prevention) for jet lag

I've heard of many cures and would like to know of your favorite.

Is prevention the best way to avoid jet lag? If so, how?
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 08:15 AM
  #2  
elaine
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If you do a search on jet lag on this forum you will find previous responses; a while back there was quite a long thread.
In my opinion the biggest factor in jet lag traveling from west to east (eg US to Europe) is simply lack of sleep. For all practical purposes you are pulling an all-nighter as we used to say in my youth. You take a flight in the early evening, if you're lucky you get one or two or even four hours sleep, and then you arrive at local time in the morning and try to get through the day. On the flight I avoid alcohol and drink the liter of water I bring with me.

People have different strategies for dealing with the fatigue when they arrive. Unfortunately, in many cases it's so early in the morning that your hotel room won't be ready for you so you can't nap on arrival. What I do is drop off my bags at the hotel and go somewhere to get breakfast. I then take a walk to orient myself, or I go to
a sightseeing destination. Maybe I'll stop after that for lunch. I head back to my hotel in the early afternoon when I hope to get into my room. I unpack, clean up, and find myself dying for some sleep. Either I give in and sleep for an hour or two, or I fight it and go out again. Either way, I have an early dinner, go to bed and when I wake up the next morning I feel rested and normal.

I always get worse jet lag coming home, Europe to the US. I don't know if it's actual biorhythm disturbance, fatigue from the trip, or slight depression after the end of my vacation. It always takes me a couple of days to get over feeling exhausted.
I have tried the various suggestions about melotinin and dietary changes immediately before traveling, and have not found them to make much difference for me.
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 08:15 AM
  #3  
elaine
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If you do a search on jet lag on this forum you will find previous responses; a while back there was quite a long thread.
In my opinion the biggest factor in jet lag traveling from west to east (eg US to Europe) is simply lack of sleep. For all practical purposes you are pulling an all-nighter as we used to say in my youth. You take a flight in the early evening, if you're lucky you get one or two or even four hours sleep, and then you arrive at local time in the morning and try to get through the day. On the flight I avoid alcohol and drink the liter of water I bring with me.

People have different strategies for dealing with the fatigue when they arrive. Unfortunately, in many cases it's so early in the morning that your hotel room won't be ready for you so you can't nap on arrival. What I do is drop off my bags at the hotel and go somewhere to get breakfast. I then take a walk to orient myself, or I go to
a sightseeing destination. Maybe I'll stop after that for lunch. I head back to my hotel in the early afternoon when I hope to get into my room. I unpack, clean up, and find myself dying for some sleep. Either I give in and sleep for an hour or two, or I fight it and go out again. Either way, I have an early dinner, go to bed and when I wake up the next morning I feel rested and normal.

I always get worse jet lag coming home, Europe to the US. I don't know if it's actual biorhythm disturbance, fatigue from the trip, or slight depression after the end of my vacation. It always takes me a couple of days to get over feeling exhausted.
I have tried the various suggestions about melotinin and dietary changes immediately before traveling, and have not found them to make much difference for me.
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 08:20 AM
  #4  
elavine
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I should have added that there are some US to Europe flights that leave in the morning and arrive in Europe in the evening. I have not taken one yet but it sounds like a great idea. You arrive, perhaps have some dinner, and go to bed at a "normal" local time.
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 08:37 AM
  #5  
s.fowler
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I second Elaine's advice and experiences! Drinking water on the plane and toughing it out when you get there are what work for me. What I do that first day/afternoon are the "errand" type things such as getting train tickets, theatre/concert tickets, gathering current information, buying bottled water or anything else I might think I need. It's a good time to explore your neighborhood for the post office, ATM, corner pub/cafe etc.. Then those things are done. You may be dead on your feet, but you're grounded in your new space!
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 10:48 AM
  #6  
April
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Elaine says it: water, no alcohol. Works for me.
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 11:00 AM
  #7  
s.fowler
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I have to confess I've been known to drink on a transatlantic flight. Particularly if the red wine looks good! I just drink more water to compensate for the dehydration I find drinking causes.
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 12:55 PM
  #8  
Bryan
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One tip that works wonders whenever we travel from the US to Britain is the use of melatonin.
There is a procedure:
Before you leave, you take a tablet at the time you would be "going to bed" overseas. (5pm EST=11pm GMT). This tricks the body into shifting it's sleep cycle.
It only takes us a day or so to acclimatize and is really amazing.
 
Old Apr 25th, 1999, 06:57 PM
  #9  
Paul Rabe
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The Argonne Lab suggest a strategy to beat jet lag based on the hypothesis that it's underlying cause is that the body "resets" it clock when you eat breakfast. The strategy is then, on the day that you leave from the U.S. to Europe, you basically eat nothing, but then eat a very hearty breakfast on the morning you arrive in Europe. Lest you starve on that day and a half, you eat huge meals on the day before you get on the plane. The lab reports that this works, but they admit to not being sure if it's because the hypothesis is true or if people expect it to work and thus report less jet lag (it's darn hard to do a double blind study with this one!).

Other ideas I've tried: going to bed a couple hours earlier each evening while in the US and waking up closer to European time in the week or so prior to leaving. Going to sleep as soon as you get on the plane (which will the middle of the night, European time); and yes, that means skipping the dinner and the movie. Lastly, psyching yourself up so that you "blow off" the night flight over as no worse than a bad night when you couldn't get any sleep. Annoying, but nothing you haven't handled before. Make that first day one where you will NOT need to be 100% alert.

It's ABSOLUTELY vital you NOT sleep during the day when you arrive; just go to bed a bit early that first night in Europe and wake up at a normal time the next day.
 
Old Apr 26th, 1999, 06:52 AM
  #10  
martha
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It's ABSOLUTELY vital you NOT sleep during the day when you arrive...if you are paulrabe.

I find giving in to the urge to nap helps if I indulge in midafternoon. I always want a midafternoon nap when I'm back home, and it seems to reset my clock when I'm travelling as long as I keep it short (say an hour).

The best way of finding out what works for you is to travel a lot and experiment. See if your employer will give you more vacation so you can conduct this important research.
 
Old Apr 26th, 1999, 07:00 AM
  #11  
cheryl
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I agree that this is probably different for everyone, and I don't have an opinion on the nap/don't nap debate. But I also drink wine on the plane, and have never had a problem. However, I think the advice about planning an early night the first night is important. We usually find that we are ok in the afternoon that first day and so we do whatever we want, but we always plan on an early (by european standards, anyway) dinner and a relatively early bedtime. The worst mistake we've made was to get concert tickets for our first night in London. I was so close to falling asleep that the Mozart Requiem felt like an out-of-body experience. Distinctly disconcerting for a Requiem!
 
Old Apr 26th, 1999, 10:03 AM
  #12  
michele
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I have a hard time with jet-lag despite the water, no alcohol,earlier to bed routine. I am flying West to East and find the time difference plus new surroundings and noises all contribute to insomnia. I read about AMBIEN ( spelling) on this forum and asked my doctor for a prescription. It was not overly strong and did help me sleep. There is also a detailed article on melatonin on the Rick Steves Graffiti board. I am hoping to be "Beamed" somewhere soon as jet lag is really a drag!

 
Old Apr 26th, 1999, 11:23 AM
  #13  
Heather
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Jet lag...

Definately, no alcohol and try to get some sleep on the plane! I felt great when we arrived in London and seemed energized on 2 hours of sleep! We dropped off our bags at the hotel and headed to the Tower of London. No problem. The only noticeable symptom for me was 10-20 minutes of being sleepy @ 8pm every night in London! I called it my witching hour,But I felt fine within the hour and was ready to go explore the city nightlife!
The trip home was even better, it seems I got more sleep on the return trip!
We arrived in Dallas @ 4pm and I tried to stay awake until 10pm,but could only manage 8:30pm! The next day, I was back to normal! Good luck!
 
Old Apr 26th, 1999, 05:00 PM
  #14  
elvira
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I, too, indulge in a drink on the plane (beer or wine, depending on my mood) but then drink lots of water. Rather than the melatonin tablets, we buy melatonin tea (in bags). After dinner, we ask for a cup of hot water, drink the tea, take an excedrin- or tylenol-pm, put on the eyemask, in go the earplugs, and crash for the night. We find that if we order fruit or seafood plates for dinner, the extra water in the food seems to help even more. We try to order fruit for breakfast and ask NOT to be awakened for breakfast, just leave the fruit on a tray table.
The first day is a light day, like wandering along the Seine or a wander around the British Museum (both are free so if you get pooped out, no loss). Early dinner, then an early evening (we might not go to sleep at 8, but we're in our jammies and in bed or in a comfy chair, reading, by then).
I'm with Elaine; my worst adjustment is coming back to the U.S. from Europe (deep depression, no will to live, life has no meaning...then I remember I'm going back in a few months and I perk up) and I think it's because I'm in my "routine" and I have 'time' to have jet lag!
 
Old Apr 26th, 1999, 05:01 PM
  #15  
Richard
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i find that alcohol, and enough of it to knock you out, actually helps me on the plane. when i get there i feel like crap, but i would have felt that way anyway.
 
Old Apr 27th, 1999, 05:26 AM
  #16  
Brian in Atlanta
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I'm with Richard. And I find it nearly impossible to turn down a free drink. I just mentally subtract $4 from my airfare for each drink I have.

Plus, you'd be surprised how much better those Hollywood movies are when you're tight.
 

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