(And how to best conquer it)
Upon arriving in Europe from the United States, jet lag is by far the biggest damper on your first day. As excited as you will be to explore that corner of the world, sleep will be calling your name and your body will only be content to answer. Here’s how I personally prepare and fight European jetlag. (Note: This schedule can vary greatly. This post is based on Central time in the US, to London on a six hour time difference).
Booking the flight: Special meal
I just recently started requesting vegetarian meals on long flights that serve dinner. Special meals get served first, allowing you to get to sleep faster.
The night before: Go to bed late, and wake up early
Make sure you have everything packed before you go to sleep the night before your flight. My flights from Omaha always leave around noon, but I wake up around 4 am. Even though that gives me plenty of time to finish some last-minute packing, I don’t count on my tired self to remember everything. The purpose of waking up so early is to make myself more tired by the time I get on my flight. If I wake up at 4 am central time, that’s 10 am London time. It’s important for me to begin getting on London time before I actually get there.
On the flight: Tylenol pm
I take a tylenol pm right when I get on the plane. Dinner is served about an hour and a half in, so by the time I’m done eating I’m ready to pass out. Going back to the special meals- regular meals are served about 30 minutes after special meals are served. I was done eating by the time my seat neighbors even got their food. If you’d rather not order a special meal, then wait until after take off to take a tylenol pm.
First day in Europe:
I land in London around 7 am. I take a LITTLE nap, but no more than two hours. If you don’t trust yourself to wake back up, DON’T TAKE A NAP. That will just undo all your pre-flight jetlag preparation. Make yourself stay awake until at least 8 or 9 pm the first night.
First couple nights:
The first night I wake up around 3 am, the second at 4 am, and so on until I’m finally 100% on London time.
It’s important to remember that jet lag has no perfect cure. Each person will react differently depending on their normal sleep habits, what time zone they live in and what time zone they are traveling to.
Happy traveling and happy sleeping!