When should we expect jetlag to set in?

Old Dec 4th, 2022, 12:26 PM
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When should we expect jetlag to set in?

Hi everyone,

Our family has never been to Europe, so I'm wondering when everyone's jetlag typically sets in?
We're coming from the middle of the US and land in Rome around 8:50am.

Trying to decide how to schedule the next few days after arrival and want to be sure to allow time for adjusting to the new time zone, but don't know when to need that rest-time.

Any help is appreciated,
Warner1108
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 12:34 PM
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When I travel from Colorado to Europe, I'm exhausted the day of arrival, and go to bed early that evening, but feel fine the next day.

The secret for me is to get out into the fresh air and fight the temptation to take a nap on the day of arrival.

I typically have more trouble coming home, although my most recent return home from Europe in early November was pretty much a non-event. I felt a bit draggy in the afternoons for a week or so, but that was about it.

Your mileage may vary.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 12:41 PM
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I'm also a believer in not taking a nap that first day. We try to stay up until 9 p.m. and we have no jet lag. Like Mel, we get jet lag when we return home.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 12:44 PM
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Like mel and maitaitom, I try never to nap that first day. I try to keep walking outdoors as much as possible and stay up until 9 p.m. The next day I feel refreshed. I get jet lag, drowsiness, that lasts for a week when returning from Europe to Seattle (ugh!).
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 12:56 PM
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I travel from Sydney and often break the journey somewhere in south-east Asia (the best is Singapore) or the Middle East, but there are always two (longish) flights. The second flight usually ends around 6am in Frankfurt, which is where I usually fly into. I usually feel a bit tired from lack of sleep for most of the first day but try to push through it for as long as possible. It's a very good effort if we can get through to 4pm, often we conk out as soon as we are allowed into the room. Then it's not unusual for us to wake up at 3am, but we try to go back to sleep and get a bit more shut-eye. This gradually gets better - by the following day we can stay up till the evening, but waking up at three can persist for a couple of days. Warning: travelling with small kids can be difficult because they don't understand about going back to sleep. Bring a computer game or a iPad so they have something quiet to amuse them while you are sleeping, although you won't be able to sleep because you are supposed to be supervising them ... you get the idea? Older children - well, you can reason with them but the iPad is a good idea anyway

That's an ideal day with jetlag. Coming via South Korea, as I will be doing this next time, the planes land in the late afternoon in Frankfurt and it's somehow not as good for jetlag, although you do get to crash straight away. But the jetlag persists longer, possibly because we are missing some crucial sleep on the plane. On the way back we find jetlag is worse.

Where are you coming from? I think it does make a difference.

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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 12:58 PM
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Funny. I never have bad jetlag flying to the US. Wake up super early on the day after we get there and that's it. Coming home again I am exhausted by about 4 pm but I hang on until my normal bedtime if I can. Next day I have a bit of what I imagine a hangover feels like (wouldn't know - never been drunk enough to have one) but it clears up over the morning. Getting out in to the light is important.

As you can see everyone is different. Some people have no noticeable jetlag, others can take a week to adjust.
Either way do not drive after a long flight, certainly not any distance.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 01:09 PM
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Whether flying from the west or east coast, after we land and drop luggage at hotel, we are out the streets ,walking and exploring. Jet lag hits us around 4 pm. We fight through being tired and go to bed after dinner. We are fine the next day.
The best way to avoid jet lag is to take a daytime flight from Boston or New York to London. You land at LHR around 7-7:30, have dinner, go to bed. No jet lag! We stay at LHR Sofitel if we are flying on the next day. Otherwise, we go to our London hotel.
We have more trouble with jet lag heading back to US.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 01:12 PM
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You are, unfortunately, arriving quite early but I would likely try to keep going and head to bed early (after dinner.) You will likely wake up early the next morning but can head out and stroll or be first in line to enter a usually crowded site.

On our last trip, we took showers and changed clothes after we checked in to our hotel which felt quite refreshing and seemed to help us wake up a bit. If you are staying at a hotel, you might write and request an early check-in.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 01:46 PM
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One trick for combatting jet lag is to reset your body clock to the new time zone. The first stage is to start acting like you are in the new time zone as soon as you get on the plane. For instance, if it is 6pm at your destination, eat like it's suppertime and a few hours later try to sleep, Actually the best reset for the internal clock is "dawn." Dawn is reset by exposure of the eyes to bright blue light. Look at the sky for 10-15 minutes, and your body says "It's dawn" and you reset. A cloudy sky will have enough blue wavelengths to be effective, also.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 02:51 PM
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Regarding being out & about in the daylight to help reset your body clock the first day, I suspect it might vary according to season, easier when there's more daylight late in the day than in the winter.

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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 03:07 PM
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As many others noted, the jet lag coming home to the US from Europe takes longer for me to shake.

​I find that arriving in Europe is an easier adjustment; however, days 2 and 3 are usually difficult days to wake up. As it has been noted up thread, on your arrival try to be out in the daylight and fresh air as much as you can, don't plan major activities for that day, and call it a night when everyone is thoroughly exhausted.

On my most recent trip, we allowed ourselves to nap when we checked into our hotel, as no one slept especially well on the plane. It helped me push through the day, but honestly, I think it made my children grumpier, haha.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 05:12 PM
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Lots of people are affected in different ways. IMO/IME I agree with most of the others that a nap on arrival is a killer and just makes it take longer to acclimate. But as I've traveled more - jet lag no makes me totally (and I mean totally) wired. I'm not sleepy - I can't sleep at all. One trip about 8-ish years ago I was literally awake for 3.5 days straight. So now I always take prescription and over the counter sleep aids to cover however bad it is(melatonin does nothing for me)

Expect different members of your family to react/recover differently.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 06:03 PM
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I am so thankful for all of these responses so far!!
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 07:40 PM
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Maybe it's because I'm a night owl, but I handle jet lag going from the US to Europe quite differently. After lunch I aim to get three or four hours sleep - say from 2:00 pm to 6:00 - and then get up, shower and eat dinner, and go to bed around 11:00 or 12:00. I then wake up normally the next morning and am synced for the rest of the trip. However, at home I don't usually go to sleep until after midnight.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 08:43 PM
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If you land at 0850 by the time you clear immigration, retrieve your bags and walk through customs (there really is very little bag examination, unless you have something to declare you'll simply walk through the green lane), then transfer into the city it will likely be 1100 or so. Your hotel room or flat may not be ready yet, but likely will allow you to drop your luggage. Absolutely walk leisurely outdoors until your room is ready. Have some lunch but make it light. When you get the room, a brief (~ an hour or so) nap is usually fine but not any longer. Unpack, splash water on your face and head back outdoors. Expect to drag your butt somewhat, but power through supper (again, keep it light) and try not to hit the rack until 9 or 10 pm. You may wake up quite early - prior to dawn, even - but are best served to try to sleep or at least lie quietly in bed until a reasonable time. You most likely will feel some fatigue now and then throughout that day and the next but avoid napping. By day three you should be pretty well adapted.
Bon voyage!
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 04:20 AM
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When I travel from the East Coast to Europe, I am tired the the day of arrival but not exhausted.

Before I even get on the plane I try to adjust my mental clock to the time in Europe. I'll eat "dinner" before I get on the plane, and either skip the airplane meal, or eat parts of it but not make it a long affair. Then settle in to a sleep mode as soon as possible after departure or after the meal. Eye shades, no electronic devices or movies, and no alcohol. If I get 4 hours total of sleep I can generally avoid true jet lag.

Upon arrival I make sure I get some good outside, walking / exercise time / fresh air but don't try to accomplish anything too mentally challenging. I go to be early that evening and usually feel fine the next day. My 1st full day on the ground I will usually start with my home routine - get up by 6, get in 30min or so of vigorous exercise, then I'm good for the day. For me, the test of jet lag or not is whether I have brain fog...


Others I have traveled with tend to stay up late at home and will not get in the Europe time zone mode ahead of time. They will watch a movie or 2 until ~midnight home time, which may be close to arrival time and therefore get little to no sleep. They have no choice but to take a nap the day of arrival, and by the 2nd day in Europe is when true jet lag really kicks in. I'd say jet lag has set in the minute they get out of the airport. It can take several days to overcome that. When we travel together we acknowledge the different styles, and adjust our 1st several day plans accordingly so that we both adjust.

Your mileage may vary.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 04:44 AM
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i find that moving my clock pre flight helps, then lots of light once I arrive and don't sit down. Also cutting out coffee seems to help. I will not drive for 2 days.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 09:39 AM
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Everyone has their own reaction to the time zone change, and I don't think you can predict if/when jet lag will set in for anyone. Some people stay awake on arrival day, get a good night's sleep and are good to go the next day. But some crash the next day or even the day after that, and some never quite adjust over the entire trip. Being able to sleep on the flight to Europe can make a difference for some.

I think predicting how kids will do is particularly difficult. They may run circles around the adults or fall asleep at any/every opportunity. As I recall, your trip is in June. Some (many?) people find that hot and humid weather saps energy as much as jet lag.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
.....I think predicting how kids will do is particularly difficult. They may run circles around the adults or fall asleep at any/every opportunity. As I recall, your trip is in June. Some (many?) people find that hot and humid weather saps energy as much as jet lag.
Not only the weather. but also the very late sunset can make getting to bed at a 'reasonable' hour on arrival day difficult. Hard to get kids to bed when its still daylight at 10:30 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 10:48 AM
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I am like Maitaitom etc, I don't really have much jet lag going to Europe, but more coming home. I also do not nap or sleep at all on arrival, and even a short nap does ruin me, I have learned that. I think 1 hr naps after a flight from US may make you wake up at the wrong sleep stage, at least for me. so that it is very disorienting and almost makes me feel worse (just entering deep sleep maybe, before REM sleep), I don't think I could do that (a one hour nap) even if I hadn't learned that it is bad for me. I don't sleep great on the flight either, so I am a zombie that first day but it's what I've learned works best for me. I probably go to bed early that day say around 10 pm. Next day I'm fairly ok. After arrival I walk around a lot, attend to mindless details like getting metro tickets, whatever. walk in the park, simple stuff.

Used to be returning just threw me off for a couple days but last time it was almost a week. BUt it's not so crucial given you are home and don't necessarily need to do anything special. I just can't adjuswt my sleep schedule well on return.

I think you just have to find out your own best methods, as people are so different.
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