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Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

Arkansas
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Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

Perhaps one of the most perplexing things to me about the trip to Paris is the potential jet lag. This will be the first time that either my wife or I have made a trip this long. We fly north to Chicago then Chicago to CDG in Paris. What kind of jet lag should we expect? What's the best approach to it? Any things we should look forward to or avoid that may help?

I've read several things about it but have gotten all sorts of differing opinions on the severity of the jet lag we will experience and things to do to help it or lesson it's effects. I'd love to hear from those who are "in the know".

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Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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1. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

1. Drink plenty of liquids (limit alcohol)

2. Sleep as much as you can on the transatlantic flight.

3. Some people take Melatonin as an aid to combating the effects of jet lag.

Once you arrive, do not allow yourself to go to sleep in the late afternoon. Try to stay awake until night time to allow your body to adjust to the new time zone. Some take a sleep aid the first night to preclude your waking up and to allow your body to adjust quickly to a new bed time.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

everyone is different

I cannot sleep on planes -- and the Chicago/Paris hop is to short to take sleeping meds IMHO

I get as much sleep as possible the night before --

I try to stay hydrated, relaxed and doze on the plane

once there, I avoid sleeping until evening and spend time outdoors as much as possible. if a nap is necessary, strictly limiting it to more than 90 minutes is important or your entire 'clock' will be disrupted -- sunlight helps reset the body clock

we stay outside, get a fairly early dinner and go to bed early -- 9 or 10

I find that taking a sleeping pill the first couple of nights helps because even though exhausted I may have trouble sleeping. many people take melatonin to help reset the clock

you will have to discover what works for you -- but hydration, avoiding alcohol, sunlight and not sleeping on arrival for long periods are pretty universally viewed as the way to avoid much lag

Montreal
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for Paris
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3. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

Since day and night will be reversed, expect to be sleepy and tired the first day or two, or three...

Try to get some sleep/rest before leaving and during flight. Upon arrival, as been suggested, stay up (easier to do outside in daylight) and go to bed perhaps earlier but not until evening/night.

I have never resorted to sleeping pills, which are best avoided in general IMO.

Edited: 14 March 2012, 04:48
Arkansas
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4. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

Thanks for the info. I was thinking the adrenaline rush of being in Paris may keep us from wanting a nap upon arrival. I don't see myself sleeping much on the flight but that is something I would like to be able to do.

Aspen, Colorado
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5. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

I always find the jet lag worse when coming home. It normally hits about 3-4 days after I get home. I'm so tired, I can't lift my head even after sleeping the night before. Within 1 week, things are back to normal. We normally try to NOT sleep on the way over and then sleep on the way back.

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

Hi there,

We just made the chicago to paris trip this last week. I few tips on trying to adjust.

-Try to get up early and go to bed early for the days before your flight. I was getting up at 4am and going to bed by 8pm for a few days to try to adjust. If you get up early on the day of your flight it will help you sleep on the plane.

-I took eye covering and noise canceling headphones to help block out the noise.

-Eat in the airport so that you can shut down early into the flight.

-Melatonin

-When you land, we always do the red bus or another bus type tour on the first day. It helps to keep you awake to be in the fresh air and moving. I also think its helpful to see the city on the first day and get oriented to Paris.

Hayti, Missouri
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7. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

As Mypinkparis mentioned, I always find it worse coming back. Once I arrive in Paris, the adrenaline does kick in and I usually make it fine until about 8 p.m. that first evening. And then I sleep really well that first night (as I'm generally exhausted) and feel fine the next day.

I generally recommend against taking any sort of medication on the plane. It's important to get up and walk around some (between naps or dozes). Blood clots can form when seated like that for a long period of time so getting up occasionally is good for you.

Also, if you're under the influence of something and there's an emergency, you would not be able to respond effectively.

Generally speaking, don't count on sleeping a full night's sleep on the plane. But even resting for a few hours with your eyes closed has some benefit to it.

The most important thing I've found? Drink lots of water. I usually find that this also takes care of making sure I get up and walk around some because I'll make a few trips to the bathroom.

Upon arrival, get out and about. Being outdoors helps your body clock reset itself.

Edited: 14 March 2012, 14:03
Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

I used to have this puritan moral attitude towards sleeping meds too -- and refused to even consider them -- then I discovered that if I took a very moderate dose of ambien the first night and maybe the second after arrival, I had pretty much no jet lag because I got a solid night's sleep

when I didn't do this, exhausted though I was, I would wake up at 3 in the morning and not be able to sleep then doze off at dawn and have jet lag for the first week of the trip --

so whatever works for you -- but if you are one who can't sleep for a few days upside down, you might find that this will help re-establish night and day

Nashville, TN
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9. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

As noted by others, jet lag affects everyone in a different way. However, the one thing I would reccommend is not to make any specific plans or reservations for the day you arrive. Just take it easy, get to know the neighborhood you're staying in, get rested up and be ready to go at full speed the next day.

Philadelphia...
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10. Re: Chicago to Paris and the jet lag...

Just to elaborate on what to expect there are two things working: sleep deprivation (from the redeye flight) and jet lag proper (adjustment to a different time). The deprivation feels exactly like pulling an all-nighter and trying to get through the next day: it makes me feel like a zombie that first day. The jet lag proper affects the sleep schedule and appetite. You may be hungry early or wake up in the middle of the night.

As Janet says, everyone's different. I've discovered I do MUCH better with a nap on arrival day, but for your first trip it's probably best to follow conventional wisdom and try to stay up until bedtime in the new time zone.