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Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Albuquerque, New...
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Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

We will be flying from US to Europe and will arrive in Europe at 7am. I am wondering if anyone has ever tried to get your body on european time by adjusting your schedule by an hour a day for a period of 8 days? I thought If got up an hour earlier each day and went to sleep each day an hour earlier that within in 8 days, I would be on europe time.

So, on day one, I would get up at 5:30 am and go to sleep at 9:30 pm. The next day, I would get up at 4:30am and go to sleep at 8:30 pm. The next day, I would get up at 3:30 am and go to sleep at 7:30 pm. If I did this for 8 days - the day of our flight we would be on Europe time for departure and be able to sleep on the plane and awake for landing at the correct time.

Anyone ever try this?

[I do not have any constraints for work etc, so I can do this without worrying about times.]

Choctaw, Oklahoma
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1. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

I have the same question but I don't have the same freedoms as far as getting up and going to bed earlier. We leave Oklahoma on Saturday 3-12-2011 at 8 in the morning, fly to Chicago, then Philadelphia before heading to Paris to arrive at approximately 7a.m. My plan was to take a couple allergy tablets that always knock me out and try to sleep on the flight over then try expresso & 5-hour energies to stay awake that first day. Open to any suggestions


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2. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Well, I had the same questions. I am planning on doing exactly that on for my May 2011 trip. I do not know if this will work, but it sounds quite reasonable. If I could only fall asleep on the flight over, I would probably be all right, but I ahve never been able to fall asleep on an airplane. This time I think I will try Dramamime.

Let me know if it works for you, as I would be interested.

as always,


Houston, Texas
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3. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Same here - We are leaving on an evening flight between Houston/Paris with a 10-year-old. I'm okay with a little jet lag, but I'm seriously considering dropping a couple of Benedryl in my daughter's chocolate milk at dinner so she'll sleep on the overnight flight ;-)

Tampa, Florida
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4. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Pediatricians advise strongly against giving kids antihistamines to make them sleep. (along with any other unnecessary medication).

It's also a bad idea to take antihistamines before a transatlantic flight, because the drying effect of the meds amplify several times the drying effect of the cabin air -- nosebleeds are fairly frequent, and the drying of the mucous membranes can make you considerably more vulnerable to a respiratory illness...exactly what you DON'T want on a big trip.

it's fairly easy to basically just force your body to the new time -- and your kids will be adjusted faster than you will.

set your watch to Europe time as soon as you get on the plane. Yes, it's primarily mental...but you need all the tricks you can get.

A glass of wine with dinner is okay, but no more than that. Altitude and the slight dehydration caused by the superdry cabin air magnifies the effect of the alcohol (which is also dehydrating)...landing hung over isn't good, either.

Stay hydrated -- drink water as often as possible. A 1-litre bottle of water is my norm, and I make sure I drink it all before we land. (the resulting bathroom trips ensure you keep the circulation going in your legs, too)

Sleep on the plane if you can -- even just leaning back and closing your eyes is more restful than watching one more stupid movie.

Go by Paris time immediately -- eat lunch at Paris time (even though your body thinks it's breakfast) -- don't skip a meal at the local time just because you're not hungry. Eat lightly, but eat a meal.

Take a shower as soon as possible after you get to your hotel. Going through your normal morning routine is another mental trick (and it feels good after all night on the plane).

Go outside -- natural light, fresh air, and exercise go the furthest in battling jet lag (and you'll be craving them after being stuffed into a flying sardine tin, anyway). Some folks do nap, but a lot swear it just delays the adjustment to a new time zone. (I *never* nap)

The first night, have a simple supper (your body hasn't completely changed gears yet) -- and have a salad or some fresh fruit. I'll sidestep the indelicate, but extended travel increases your need for fiber.

Try to stay up until 10pm or so Paris time -- by then you'll be *past* ready to go to bed....you'll crash really hard, sleep very soundly, and you'll probably sleep in a little the next morning...but try to be up at a fairly normal time, even if you have to set an alarm (8ish always worked well for us).

The second day you'll be a little out of sync, but very functional, and by the third day, it's like nothing ever happened.

Enjoy your trip.

Edited: 02 March 2011, 20:05
New York City, New...
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5. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Ive never tried to change my bodyclock - there is no way I can go to sleep at 6pm with the job I have.

The No Jet Lag Pills work really well for me. they work better for longer haul flights to SE Asia for example - the flight to Europe is almost too short to get enough of the pills in to work, but they definitely worked for my last trip to Paris. For the first time ever, on the day I arrived, I was fine all day and well into the night - felt disoriented, but not as foggy as usual. I did get lucky and have a whole row to stretch out in and slept for 2-3 hours, which is unusual for me on planes.

And, since Sunshine's post came in while I was typing this - I second the suggestion to change your watch. I do it as soon as I get on the plane.

Edited: 02 March 2011, 20:07
Charlottetown, PEI...
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6. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Great advice from Sunshine. We do basically all she recommends in her post and are raring to go when we land from our trans Atlantic flight. Much too excited to even contemplate a nap.

Denver, Colorado
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for Paris, Denver
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7. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

<<The No Jet Lag Pills work really well for me.>> OMG I tried them last time on a trip to Europe, bad mistake - I couldn't sleep for 48 hrs, including the plane ride (usually, I have no problems sleeping on the plane and don't have bat jetlag anyways) :))))

Debits2000, I think it's a very interesting expriement and I think it would work. The closest thing I've done is gone to Montana and stayed the whole week on Eastern time :-D Let us know how it goes, if you decide to do it!

New Hampshire
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8. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

I'd say not to bother with any of that...I don't think you can adjust to jet lag ahead of time.

If you get up early day of departure (your usual time, not 3:30AM), by the time you've packed, gotten to the airport, boarded the plane, you'll likely be tired/drowsy enough to get some sleep, if you can get comfortable.

One thing we find helpful is to have a good meal before we board the plane and decline airline food/beverage service, as that typically consumes the first hour or two of the flight, whereupon you get a "second wind". And, airline food tends to be very salty and just make you uncomfortable. You also don't want to consume a lot of alcohol for a variety of reasons.

How much sleep you'll be able to get on the plane depends on the location of your seats and who's around you. If there are screaming babies, people who wander up and down the aisles grabbing seats as they go, people who stay up all night talking, all bets are off. Or, sometimes, you're just too keyed up to sleep. Often, however, the movie is boring enough to put you to sleep.

Even if you get little or no sleep on the flight over, it's best to stay out in the daylight and on the move until as close to your normal bed time Paris time as possible. It's best to resist the urge to take a nap, once you get into your accommodations, or sleep for, at most, an hour or two. If you sleep for several hours, you're likely to not get to sleep until too late and be off-schedule for days rather than only one. It's better to take a shower and change than sleep.

The quickest way to recover from jet lag is getting a good night's sleep, your usual hours, your first night.

Another really helpful tactic, if you have a choice, it to book a flight that departs later (10 or 11PM versus 5 or 6PM) so that you land later in the morning and don't have all that time between arrival and check-in time.

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

"Pediatricians advise strongly against giving kids antihistamines to make them sleep. (along with any other unnecessary medication)."

Sunshine - it was a joke. Hence the ";-)" Of course we wouldn't give our child any unneccessary medication.

West Chester, Ohio
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10. Re: Resetting Body Clock for overnight flight to Europe

Great advice here. I used to travel between Europe and the US every 6-8 weeks and then once a quarter to Asia, so here's what I found helpful in addition to the staying hydrated during the trip. I would try to get as much sleep on the plane as I could. Try to be outside in the sunshine when you get there - it was always dangerous for me if I tried to sleep any instead of making the adjustment. I also found it very helpful to manage your diet - if you were wanting to sleep, eat carbs. If you wanted to be awake, eat protein. That always made a huge difference in how well I adjusted. Be careful how much caffeine you drink because you will crash a few hours afterwards, possibly sinking you into a deeper slump. Good luck! Just be careful the first day when you get there.