Jet Lag

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Huntn, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #1
    How do you cope? I live in GMT-6 and we are flying today to GMT+1. I shift my wake up time, getting up about 2-3 hrs earlier for a couple days in advance which won't make up for the other 4-5 hours, but I think that helps ease the pain.

    I don't think it's practical to adapt to the new time zone while on the plane. You are going to be tired, you need sleep. Pulling an all nighter imo, does not help, if you expect to be functional on the first day there. If I can get 5 hrs sleep on the airplane, I'm doing well on the other end. :)

    I don't know if melatonin is a good idea for the plane if you are going to get less than a full night's sleep (on the plane), but it may help for bed time after you arrive. That has not seemed to be an issue for me in the past. However if it's 11pm local, while back home it's 4pm, melatonin might be a consideration if you find yourself staying awake. The only thing is you have to take it an hour or two before you intend on going to bed.

    WebMD says:
    1. Simulate your new schedule before you leave.
    2. Adapt to your new schedule while in flight.
    3. Arrive early.
    4. Stay hydrated.
    5. Move around.
    6. Consider melatonin.
    7. Try natural light therapy.
    8. Eat sensibly.
    9. Take a hot bath before bedtime.
    10. Minimize sleep distractions.
    11. Consider medication.
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    I found that really hard to do, especially when I flew to SF from Boston. I found myself falling asleep too early during my stay on the left coast and of course waking up way too early.

    The return trip was less disruptive, which was surprising because I usually find the trip eastward back to EST from PST to be more troublesome but this last time, it was the opposite.
     
  3. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #3
    If you have a work schedule at home and have to get up, then it's nearly impossible to do this when flying West. You can always get up early (for flying East).
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
  5. Gutwrench macrumors 65816

    Gutwrench

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    #5
    I used to fly from the Midwest to China. I'd get some sleep on the flight, sometimes using Benadryl to help. I recall reading the adjustment is a couple hours a day. I had no problem with adjustment going to China, and only some when returning home. I tend to think the people who have the most problems are those who over focuses on it and exaggerates it.
     
  6. heehee macrumors 68020

    heehee

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Location:
    Same country as Santa Claus
    #6
    I'm actually very jet lag right now. Went to Taiwan and Hong Kong for 3 weeks, 13 hour difference, came back Thursday. Slept for a few hours last night and on a plane now to Mexico, 2 hour difference.
     
  7. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere
    #7
    What I've found works he best is to book a flight that arrives in the late afternoon or evening. Then I can go to bed shortly after arriving and usually the jet lag isn't too bad when you wake up the next morning.
     
  8. 960design macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Location:
    Destin, FL
    #8
    I have never experienced jet lag. I normally only sleep 5.5 hours per day and have perfected the mini sleep for solo sailing, so this may have buffed by jet lag resistance. I always plan my trip to leave as early as possible in the morning, take a little nap on the first flight then read and work according to my arrival time. I always rest the day of arrival ( do a little sight seeing ) and plan my sleep schedule to oversleep on arrival day to wake fully rested on work day. I do not drink alcohol while flying, and ensure I drink plenty of water ( greater than a gallon in 24 hours ).
     
  9. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #9
    Different people have different tolerances. When I used to go to Japan, would get there about 2pm. I would eat something and go right to bed, sleep in until 4-5am. Read a book until the sun came up. Go for a jog, shower, eat breakfast, take a nap, and then I'd be ready for the 3pm flight somewhere South (depending). After that I was pretty much good to go on local time.

    From a time zone change, the worst you can be I think. ;)

    If you can find such a flight. Many of the flights to Europe from the States leave in the late afternoon/evening to get there first thing in the morning.
     
  10. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #10
    I've found that the lack of sleep from an "all-nighter" on the plane has a greater effect on me than does the jet lag from the change of time zones. It helps me a lot if I'm able to sleep on the plane. For me, I've found it also helps to take a nap right away when I arrive (or as soon as the hotel room is available if it's a morning arrival).
     
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #11
    I travel quite a lot, sometimes over long distances across continents.

    Much of the advice tendered here is good, solid advice, and holds up well.

    Personally, one of the things that I do is to make absolutely certain I am properly hydrated. This usually means something close to double my normal - roughly two litres a day - of water. Days when I have long flights, or several flights, or a mix, I would consume three to four litres of water, and I find it works wonderfully well.

    Moreover, these days, I tend to drink very little alcohol on flights, even if I am fortunate enough to be travelling business; usually, one drink with a meal, and that is not something I'd always have (except perhaps on the journey home, when leaving a somewhat challenging spot).

    As others have suggested, sleeping on the plane can be helpful; certainly, I find it so.

    And freshly squeezed juices - if it is possible to get them in the airport - or while connecting, I almost always do so.

    Jet lag is not the only problem one can face on long distance flights. When one is cooped up in a sealed cylindrical tube for hours on end, viruses can circulate; I always travel with a small bottle of tea tree oil, and shake a few drops onto a tissue which I inhale when onboard.
     
  12. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    #12
    Take your shoes and socks off when you land. Find some carpet and make fists with your toes. Works every time. Something else.....


    Oh, yeah....cigarettes!
     
  13. JamesMike macrumors demi-god

    JamesMike

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2014
    Location:
    Oregon
  14. noisycats macrumors 6502a

    noisycats

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Location:
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    #14
    What works for me...
    Traveling east is rough. Especially as you get older. I have a cocktail and an ambien on the flight. Helps get a few hours sleep. Land, luggage, car rental, hotel. Grab a breakfast. Nap for three or four hours. Wake up, gym, it's mid-afternoon or so, stay awake till 10 or 11pm local. Then bedtime. I still wake up at odd times, and often hit groggy spells mid day, but it's the best I found for getting functionality back the quickest. Assume the local time as quickly as possible, recognizing you need a good nap on day 1.

    Flying west, party like a rock star. I love chasing the sun. Lol.
     
  15. Roller macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    #15
    Hydration is also effective in reducing the risk of DVT, which can occur on long flights or drives. Keeping your legs moving also helps, though that's tough to do if you're asleep!

    As for jet lag, sleeping is good, especially if it fits with the schedule at your destination. I've rarely been able to sleep on airplanes, however, even when I've flown in business class.
     
  16. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #16
    Arrived in Barcelona, via Paris. Laying down to take a nap before dinner. :)
     
  17. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #17
    Enjoy Barcelona, and enjoy your (doubtless well-deserved) nap. And remember, drink plenty of water even when you wake up - it'll help your body adjust a lot easier and a lot faster not just to the time changes, but to the sheer experience of having been transported in a sealed cylindrical tube across thousands of miles far faster than evolution considered we might be able to make such a journey.
     
  18. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #18
    I travel between NY and Europe fairly regularly which means arriving first thing in the morning. I try not to schedule much of anything for the first day if I can help it. I check into the hotel early, and then take a nap of 1-2 hours absolute maximum finishing by 2pm. If I don't have any work obligations, I then go for a run or a long walk for the next 2 hours or so which gets me to near dinner. At that point I can make it to my regular schedule no problem. The afternoon activity is really the key.
     
  19. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #19
    I don't have a sleep rythm.
    I can fall asleep at will at any time.

    When I need to stay awake I drink coffee and energy drinks.
     
  20. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #20
    The last 3 times I traveled were from NY to CA or Mexico (OK, Mexico City was only 1 hour behind I guess). I actually had relatively early flights from the East (6 AM), with layover and then travel to my hotel it was nearly time for dinner at my destination by the time I was settled in. Went to bed at my normal time and was up and ready for work as normal. On the return I had relatively late flights home, got home around 1 AM, asleep around 2 or so and up and ready for the world by 8. I tried to keep my schedule about the same, following the time on the clock, not reverting to the previous time zone to keep to that schedule for the rest of the day.

    I actually went the reverse of staying hydrated, I rationed my fluid intake during travel times to control how much I had to use the airplane restrooms but I did "drown" once I got to my destination.
     
  21. Gutwrench macrumors 65816

    Gutwrench

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    #21
    NY to CA? Do you get daylight savings time jag too? ;)
     
  22. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #22
    I generally don't get jetlag. For a flight to Europe, I don't do anything special. I'm usually up all night on the plane, because I have great difficulty sleeping on planes. I land in the morning, load up a bit on caffeine and make it most of the day, usually make it until 9 or 10, wake up the next morning, and I'm fine. On the way back, again, I make no attempt to sleep on the plane, and I go to bed whenever I get tired that evening, ready to go the next morning.

    When I went to Australia, I managed to sleep a few hours on the flight, and was fine from landing in Sydney at 6 AM until I went to bed at night. Way back, again, couple hours of sleep and made it until my usual bedtime at home.

    Crossing one or two time zones doesn't even faze me. I regularly hop between Central and Eastern for work, I've done Central to Pacific and Central to Atlantic (Caribbean, 1 hr ahead of Eastern) and have zero effects at all. I guess I'm lucky.
     
  23. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #23
    For this current trip, 7 hr time zone change, got about 4-5 hrs sleep on aircraft. At destination, took 3 hr nap. That night went out for dinner and a show from 8-11pm, feeling pretty good! :)
     
  24. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #24
    Enjoy your trip.

    In addition to staying hydrated, and catching a nap on the plane (or for an hour or two when you arrive), I am also a big fan of @zhenya's idea of a nice long walk. A good walk of an hour or two, preferably in someplace interesting - grounds of stately homes, or long walks by the sea - were things I have done on returning home from long flights, a few changes, and several different time zones.
     
  25. A.Goldberg, Dec 9, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015

    A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Boston
    #25
    I would not advise that as a good combination.
    1. It's dangerous in terms of overdose
    2. It can promote Ambien's sleep walking and hallucinogenic effects. My imagination shows some interesting things happening on an airplane, haha.
    3. Alcohol especially interferes with your sleep cycle
    4. It easily induces memory loss, confusion, and impaired judgement, something you probably don't want while traveling
    5. It will increase dizziness and uncoordinated make you more prone to falling, which many people don't realize can be extremely dangerous if your reflexes are impaired
    6. A worse hangover
    Everyone reacts differently to alcohol and hypnotics, and even more so with combinations.

    Melatonin is over-the-counter, cheap, is well tolerated, and has been controversially shown to help with jet lag and reacclimatizing your circadian rhythm. The extended-release formulation has been shown not to be effective, but the regular melatonin in meta-analysis has been show to be very effective, especially the greater number of timezone changes.

    Take up to 5mg the night you arrive 30 minutes prior to sleep, continuing for the next few days, and the same when you return- it usually comes in 5mg tablets. Doses >5mg show no increased benefit. Don't take it if you're epileptic, having clotting issues, or are on blood thinners and of course talk to your doctor/pharm if you're on other meds. Some people recommend taking it in the morning (which makes no sense intuitively considering it makes you slightly tired). Studies show taking it in the morning (local time) lengthen the time for adaptation to the new time zone.

    @Huntn, in terms of talking melatonin on the plane, I would generally reccomend against it. The research shows the best practice is to start taking the night you arrive and that if you're working against it, it will prolong the confusion of your sleep-cycle. The only time on the plane I would take it is in the rare event your flight allows for your normal # hours of sleep (i.e. 7) and when you arrive its around your normal wakeup time (7AM). The half life of the drug (also an endogenous molecule) is only about an hour. Melatonin is more about telling your body when to fall asleep rather than to stay asleep or when to wakeup. Taking melatonin in the new time zone (at the same time every night btw) programs your brain to fall asleep at X time. To take the drug simply to sleep on the plane will just screw things up.

    For example, this is when I'd consider melatonin- NYC to Barcelona is a 7hr 45min flight. If you depart NY@ 5:25PM, you arrive at 7AM local time. Therefore, if you fell asleep shortly after getting on the plane, you would get your 7-8hrs of sleep and wakeup at your normal time in Spain. It's as if you're already going to bed at 11:00 PM on +1 time. Your body won't exactly get the environmental cues of time though.

    Practicing good sleep hygiene is good too when you arrive- wind down for sleep, turn down the lights and turn off the tv, phone, etc an hour prior to sleep. Another thing is avoid caffeine. For some I know this is very hard. While it will wake you up in the morning, it will also cause you to crash later. I like @zhenya 's @Scepticalscribe 's ideas about exercise too.

    If you go the prescription route, there are two major options. Non-Benzodiazpines (Ambien/Zolpidem, Lunesta, Sonata) hypnotics and Benzodizapines (BZD) (Xanax/alprazolam, Ativan/lorazepam, Valium/diazapem, etc). I'd recommend n-BZD as they tend to allow for better quality sleep. BZD's, like alcohol, interfere with the sleep cycle more than other meds. While they may knock you unconscious, you won't necessarily wake rested. Ambien/zolidem is generic and is the least expensive of the major, modern, n-bzd class hynotics. Triazolam is a BZD and good for jet lag because of it's very short duration (1-2hrs) of action that helps you fall sleep (rather than stay asleep), but it's not good to use more than absolutely necessary.

    I suspect jet lag isn't simply about psychologically switching to a new timezone, it's also the entire body physiologically switching to a new timezone. Many, many of our natural chemicals are regulated differently though out the day, taking cues from environment (i.e. sunlight). We cannot consciously control most of these functions, let alone take a pill for them. Only time and the new environment can adapt our sensitive biological processes. Jet lag is really just inevitable.

    Anyways, enjoy your trip @Huntn ! I was on vacation in Spain back in 2008 and spent 3-4 days in Barcelona. It's a beautiful place and very fun. Spanish cuisine is great too. Can you bring me back some Paella?
     

Share This Page