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What's your strategy to beat jet lag? (archived)

What's your strategy to beat jet lag? (archived)

Old Jul 25, 08, 7:10 pm
  #1  
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What's your strategy to beat jet lag? (archived)

I fly from the California to Europe at least once a month and if I am jet lagged I am non-functional. Over the years I have tried various strategies to beat jet lag including:

* trying to stay awake the whole time and work
* trying to stay on my home time
* waking up an hour early each day for a few days before the trip to get acclimated
* no caffeine on flight days (occasionally resulting in a withdrawal headache)
* avoiding food & alcohol on the flight
* having lots of food and alcohol on the flight
* sleeping with the assistance of benadryl (antihistamine), ambien, alcohol, melatonin (although not all at the same time)
* always using earplugs for the entire flight, and making maximum use of the eye shades in C
* trying to take longer flights (e.g. LAX - LHR)
* trying to always take night flights (from US, not possible from Europe to US)
* not sleeping at all the night before the flight back to the US so I am tired on plane
* taking extra pillows & blankets on the flight
* trying to work out during the trip
* etc

What I've found works for me is to sleep on the flight for as long as possible and wake up just before landing. My current routine involves getting very little or no sleep the night before a flight so that I am good and tired when I get on the airplane, and then having a sleeping pills or some benadryl on the airplane before take-off. Doing this puts me out for 8-10 hours -- often before the first drink service, and occasionally before take-off. A couple of time I literally slept from take-off to landing (the FAs thanked me for being the "most cooperative passenger" on my way off the plane). Sometime I watch a movie and eat but not always, and I usually get at least 8 hours of sleep (to/from LHR and LAX)

For me this makes the flight time pass quickly and I feel remarkably good when I get to the other side (where I have triple strength espresso to get me moving again. I rarely suffer from jet lag despite the 8 hour time difference, but when I do it's almost always on the 2nd night in the hotel

I usually fly in C, which helps a lot.

A work colleague has a different philosophy -- he works for the entire flight and is then miserable for a week.

So having said all that, I have a few questions for the board:

* What's your strategy for coping with jet lag?
* How has it changed over the years?
* Do you take prescription sleeping pills? Something else to help you sleep?
* Do you ever mix these with alcohol to "enhance the effect"?
* Do you have differing strategies depending on the length, time and direction of the flight?
* What's your strategy for sleeping on the plane in Y (C & F are a bit easier on international flights anyway)

Thanks all

SD-F
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Old Jul 25, 08, 7:27 pm
  #2  
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Since the topic of jet lag is not specific to United, I will move this to the TravelBuzz! Forum.

Thanks,

FlyinHawaiian, Co-Moderator
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Old Jul 25, 08, 7:31 pm
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    Old Jul 25, 08, 7:34 pm
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    SD-Flyer - well here I am having arrived in London today & I'm still awake at 1.30am, but feeling great.

    My strategy has worked well for me over the years for Europe & Australia:

    For the 2 nights before day of travel, go to bed 2am, wake up at 6am as usual

    When on plane, I always eat dinner & 1 glass of wine, watch 1 movie, then ask the FA not to wake me for breakfast. I do earplugs, occasionally eye mask if annoying person next to me, never take pills.

    In those 2 hours, I go to the loo at least 3 or 4 times & spray the H20 water all over my face- this really seems to help prevent onset of any travel headaches you sometimes get flying.

    Right after Ice Cream in C (with the upgrade fairies on my side), the temperature has risen sufficiently for me to drift off to a deep sleep & I usually wake as we're in holding pattern over LHR - just time to brush my teeth before the seatbelt light comes on (if I'm lucky).

    Then I keep trucking all day & adjust eating / drinking to local time.

    If it's a long trip, on day 2 or 3, I'll take a 1 hour nap around 3pm or 4pm so I can stay on UK / EU time. This trip is only 2 days, so I'm keeping myself on LA time (hence still being awake right now).

    Return flight, I aim for 4 hours sleep right in the middle of the flight & always have the Rhoda's clotted cream tea

    Cheers
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    Old Jul 25, 08, 7:46 pm
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    Exclamation Homeopatic

    I agree 100% with all of the above mentioned suggestions.

    *Plenty of water
    *No alcohol
    *Adjusting to your destination's time ahead
    *Abiding by the time when you arrive at your destination
    *Low fat diet before, during and after the flight
    *No caffeine
    *NEVER mix Rx sleep aids with alcohol

    BUT, when I went to Asia on a 19+ hour flight to deal with a 14 hour jet lag, I swore by homeopathic medicines. They are 100% natural with no or minimal side effects. It was a life saver. Also, most people see positive results when they use Melatonin, although it causes grogginess in me sometimes.

    Boiron Jet Lag
    http://www.nojetlag.com/

    Jet lag is a medical condition as defined by Medicinenet.com:
    http://www.medicinenet.com/jet_lag/article.htm

    By the way, did you know that it is ALWAYS easier to adjust to jet lag if you are going ahead (i.e. U.S. to Asia/Europe) than going back in time? (i.e. Europe/Asia back to U.S.)

    "SAFE TRAVELS!!!"

    Last edited by Fly-Me-to-the-Moon!; Jul 25, 08 at 10:22 pm
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    Old Jul 25, 08, 10:20 pm
      #6  
    BLG
     
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    My strategy is simple: Make sure I have a lie-flat bed! I am a lousy plane sleeper -- always have been. But since the introduction of the lie-flat, my life has changed! My most common longhaul is also LAX-LHR. Even though it means giving up miles and potentially status on AA, I always take BA J because I sleep on their true lie-flat really well, whereas I struggle on AAs's NGBC seat. The other half of the equation is that I take the latest flight out which leaves LAX around 9:00PM so after I've had dinner I'm naturally tired and I go to sleep. With a little luck I get 5/6 hours sleep. By the time it's late evening in London, I'm tired enough to sleep and I'm on my way to getting turned around. It doesn't seem to matter whether I have a couple of drinks or not.

    Summing up -- Lie flat bed + late departure = best strategy!

    Last edited by BLG; Jul 25, 08 at 11:09 pm
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    Old Jul 25, 08, 11:27 pm
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    Originally Posted by BLG View Post
    But since the introduction of the lie-flat, my life has changed!
    I'd say that my life has changed since the introduction of Ambien!

    Flat bed or not, daytime or not, C, F, or Y, I can finally sleep on a plane. (Ambien = sleep, !Ambien = !sleep, simple as that for me!)

    Originally Posted by SD-Flyer View Post
    For me this makes the flight time pass quickly and I feel remarkably good when I get to the other side
    This (ensuring that I have the most enjoyable flight possible) is what works for me. I've tried all the other tricks that work for others (usually relating to sleeping/going without sleep, drinking/not drinking alcohol, etc.), but none of them works for me.

    So I've given up on that, and my goal now is to have the most enjoyable flight possible. I sleep (w/Ambien) when I want to sleep, I eat when I am hungry (which is most of the time!), I carry music and TV shows on my Treo for when I want to listen to something or watch to something. In short, I do what I want to do when I want to do it.

    None of this reduces jet lag for me whatsoever. But I've found that when I have an enjoyable, stress-free flight, I am better equipped to handle it after I land.
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    Old Jul 26, 08, 1:45 am
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    Sleep works best for me. Can't have too much of it, even if just lying there with my eyes closed. Only possible in C/F though. Beer is my only sleep aid. (lots of beers) Westbound flights to Asia arriving nighttime I never have even remote jetlag. I chill for a couple of hours, then in bed by 2am or so, and the next day is just like I woke up at home. Eastbound flights are usually pretty tough on me. I hate arriving anywhere in the morning after a long flight.
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    Old Jul 26, 08, 4:16 am
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    I too subscribe to the Benadryl theory. Its a miracle drug (and unlike Tylenol PM, if you take an extra one or two occasionally it won't kill your liver (caveat: I am not a doctor, so don't rely on that statement!))

    I usually fly in J on international flights, but since moving to the UK for a two year stint, I find that I also make a lot of non-work related trips home in Y. I've actually found where I sit is meaningless. I am over the novelty of business class meals, entertainment and GASP, the lie flat seat. I take my Benadryl and a bottle of water when boarding (I try to eat immediately before the flight) and then I am out and usually can get a full 6-8 hours of sleep. I find this by itself helps me be very productive during the time I am working in the new time zone. Ironically, I always seem to struggle on the way home (regardless of which direction I go in--its actually funny--when I'm I used to live in the US and would fly to Europe, this works, but when I am living in Europe now and fly from the US I am destroyed). I think its just my body catching up with me.

    If I don't eat before the flight (i.e. rushing to the airport, etc.), I'll do the quickie meal option on the flight and usually will skip the breakfast afterwards. If the flight is 10+ hours, I'll do a meal and a movie, then take my benadryl.
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    Old Jul 26, 08, 3:03 pm
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    Diphenhydramine and Doxycycline.

    Originally Posted by EWR ADC Hold View Post
    I too subscribe to the Benadryl theory. Its a miracle drug (and unlike Tylenol PM, if you take an extra one or two occasionally it won't kill your liver (caveat: I am not a doctor, so don't rely on that statement!)

    FYI, Benadryl's (which is an antihistamine for allergy suffers) active ingredient is Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride. It is the same ingredient used in Tylenol PM (minus the acetaminophen), and also found in brand names like Nytol, Minx, Sleeping and Compos. They usually come in 25 mg or 50 mg. Try 25mg and if doesn't help try the 50 mg.

    The other active ingredient found in most sleep aides is Doxylamine Succinate found in brand names like Unisom and Nighttime Sleep Aid. Depending on the person, it may or may not affect you the same way as Diphenhydramine.

    Caution, as it is with all sleep aides, it might cause drowsiness or grogginess when you wake up. As with ALL medications, try not to mix alcohol with them. Also, take it half an hour before you want to fall asleep because that is the average time for it to kick in. For faster the results, break the caplet or tablet in half and put in under the tongue before you swallow or get liquid capsules. Tylenol PM also has quick dissolve tablets.

    So, when looking at sleep aides, look for the active ingredient and get the cheapest one. Why pay more for the same pill when you can get it for less? Hope this tid bit of information was helpful! Safe Travels!
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    Old Jul 27, 08, 5:16 pm
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    For what it's worth, my strategy, which works better for me than any other I have tried (mostly on UK–North American flights or between the UK and the south-east Asia or Sydney), is:
    • be reasonably well rested to start with
    • sleep as much as possible on the flight
    • avoid sleeping medications, since although they work they leave me with a sort of "hang-over" effect
    • no alcohol on board, or very little
    • eat sparingly but enough to prevent a feeling of hunger
    • make sure to get a good dose of daylight on the day of arrival
    • stay up till bedtime if possible; if that is absolutely impossible, set the alarm so that I only sleep for a maximum of 90 minutes or so
    • again, not much alcohol for the first couple of days after arrival
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    Old Jul 27, 08, 6:29 pm
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    For my ORD-NRT-BKK trips, I do the following:

    1. Sleep in as late as possible the day before the flight.
    2. Stay up all night the night before the flight
    3. Take 1-2 Melatonin tablets with the first meal
    4. Sleep the rest of the flight, oftentimes skipping the 2nd meal. Having a good neck pillow really helps with this, as does an upgrade to C.
    5. Take a shower at the RCC in NRT (very important!)
    6. Do NOT sleep NRT-BKK
    7. Arrive at BKK very late at night BKK time, so take more Melatonin and sleep immediately.

    Voila, instantly adjusted to BKK time.

    For those of you who are opposed to popping pills, Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone and an extremely strong anti-oxidant as well! So you can safely take it every night without the addictive side effects of pharmaceutical sleeping pills.
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    Old Jul 27, 08, 6:40 pm
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    Originally Posted by Fly-Me-to-the-Moon! View Post
    By the way, did you know that it is ALWAYS easier to adjust to jet lag if you are going ahead (i.e. U.S. to Asia/Europe) than going back in time? (i.e. Europe/Asia back to U.S.)

    No way, for me at least. Flying west is just like staying up late. I've found that I become tired a bit earlier than usual up to day two or three, but it's a relatively easy transition.

    Flying east is another matter. My best strategy is to arrive, sleep the whole day (until around 4:30pm), get some dinner, hit the bars early, and let alcohol work its sleep-inducing magic right around midnight. Then again, this strategy may not work if you have to be productive on day #1

    I dread flying east. If it were prudent, I'd fly SEA-NRT-LHR over the more "traditional" route for my next trip to London.
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    Old Jul 27, 08, 10:14 pm
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    Originally Posted by Fly-Me-to-the-Moon! View Post
    By the way, did you know that it is ALWAYS easier to adjust to jet lag if you are going ahead (i.e. U.S. to Asia/Europe) than going back in time? (i.e. Europe/Asia back to U.S.)
    What I had heard and personally experienced is that it is easier going from east to west (the shortest distance) than going from the west to east.
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    Old Jul 27, 08, 10:26 pm
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    Originally Posted by Fly-Me-to-the-Moon! View Post

    By the way, did you know that it is ALWAYS easier to adjust to jet lag if you are going ahead (i.e. U.S. to Asia/Europe) than going back in time? (i.e. Europe/Asia back to U.S.)
    ALWAYS easier? In my experience, it's NEVER easier flying US - Europe. I usually have terrible jetlag for 3 days - almost feels like a mild case of the flu on top of being wide awake at 3am in the morning.

    Flying back to the US is just like staying up late - particularly if I have an afternoon flight and got to sleep in late the morning of the flight.
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