Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
To me, one of the worst things about all our travel and spinning around the globe is the resulting jet lag. It is really hard to enjoy wherever you are if you are not awake to see it and experience the place. My friend and fellow BA blogger Kevin “hates” jet lag. My dearest bride, while well meaning, may not have the best suggestion about how to fight it as we will touch on later on.
Domestically this is not that big a deal to me. An hour between Eastern and Central is nothing. When skiing in Utah each year 2 hours is no big deal. Even East coast to West coast, that is a 3 hour change, is not “that” bad and can be made up in a day or two as your day / night sleep patterns just need to be tweaked a little. But when you are talking 6+ hours it can be a real pain. 12+ hours and you are really upside down.
My normal trips tend to be to Europe so I will focus on those for this post, but I would be thrilled to have comments on Asia and Australia etc. that are much more dramatic time shifts and what you do to make those transitions simpler. Also, I am focusing on going from west to east, that is, from the US to Europe. After all coming back I think most will agree it is not that bad, that is, all that happens is you wake up early for a few days and then you are over the change.
So this tends to be my normal issue. The day I arrive in Europe tends to be between 10 AM and 6 PM. The earlier flight is problematic. You want to nap. But napping more than 5-10 minutes means I am in trouble as I enter too deep a sleep and I am not able to go to sleep at a good time at night. But what about the later flights?
This is much better to me. The later flights result in arrival, sometimes dinner, a shower and off to bed at 8-9PM. But I have an consistent issue – I tend to wake up at 12-2AM and am really wide awake.
I have tried many things over the years such as “forcing” myself to stay in bed and get back to sleep. I have done the read in bed for a bit and try to get sleepy and that sometimes works. But here is what works best for me I have found. Get up.
Now I am not saying get up and stay up. I have found by getting up for less than 2 hours and going back to bed I can “shut my brain off” that I cannot do when just staying in bed. After 1-2 hours I am again sleepy as it is close to bed time at home and I can again sleep for a number of hours before “morning” where I am.
I can do this night after night if I need to and it still yields a decent amount of sleep hours each night until I fully adjust to where I am.
I also do try to “sleep in” but not too long. Sleeping till NOON where you are is just not a good idea. Set an alarm for 7-9AM to get your body to adjust to local morning time and to help you when it comes to hitting your normal sleep time at night.
Once you start hitting your stride, and even before, I just cannot stress enough that you really should avoid LONG naps during the day. Short cat naps of just 5-10 minutes (set an alarm please) are enough to knock off that irresistible urge to drop off into la-la land. Anything longer and you are in trouble later that night.
Food and drink. This is a hard one. We all know we SHOULD hydrate before we fly as flying sucks the water right out of you. Sure we should not drink adult beverages onboard but I do and am willing to pay for it later. But when I land I go back to water. Sure, that can be an issue overnight but unless I am getting up in the 12-2 range I am able to go back to bed after a visit to the bathroom. But as to food I try NOT to eat unless I am eating during the local times breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. I have found my stomach is one of the hardest things to reset to local time and eating at odd times a.k.a. home meal times does keep me from adjusting to local time as I should.
Sleeping “aids”. Should you ever medicate to sleep? I just don’t. I am no doctor nor would I ever give out medical advice. To me, with the above suggestions, medication should not be needed. But to each his / her own if you have found something that really works for you.
Lastly let’s touch on sleeping on jets. This is a big part of the whole equation. I can always sleep on jets. I can sleep sitting up (with recline) or clearly in a full flat seat bed. For those who cannot sleep on jets – ouch. You are going to be very sleepy day one and will need many 5-10 minute naps and may need to call it a day at the 6-7PM range day one.
So there are my rookie ideas for fighting jet lag. I think they are very good ones and I have had a chance to really test these as I have done this for many years and it works. But what do you think? What works best for you? I would love to know. – René.