By the time we arrived in Ireland recently, we’d been on the go for about 48 hours straight, or so it seemed. Our flight left Lihue around 10 in the evening; after 5 hours we arrived in Los Angeles for a 90 minute layover. We boarded a second five hour flight for Newark, where we disembarked for four hours, awaiting our connection to Dublin. After a seven hour flight, we landed in Dublin at 7AM Tuesday morning local time. So, our heads were telling us we’d lost a day and had been up all night, twice. Coupled with general travel fatigue, we were tired as all get out.
Fortunately, when we made our way to Croke Park Hotel, our first night’s accommodation, they had graciously prepared our room far ahead of the normal 3pm check-in. Resisting the urge to go immediately to bed, we set out to visit a couple of historic sites north of Dublin. Finishing up with a wonderful meal at a small village hotel, we made our way back to the Croke Park Hotel satiated and more tired than ever. We went to bed around 10PM, hoping to awaken refreshed and hit the road.
This was not to be. Instead, we slept intermittently, worked a bit while we were awake, fell asleep again and didn’t awaken until late in the morning. Half the day was gone before we checked out and hit the highway! Where did we go wrong?
Most experts advise forcing yourself to acclimate to the local time as soon as possible. While we’re not fans of artificial sleep aids, we might have benefited from them in order to synch up with the local time. Instead, we prolonged our disorientation by succumbing to what our bodies wanted to do (stay up, nap, etc) instead of conforming to our new circumstances.
A local friend advised staying hydrated (with water, not Guinness or other alcohol!) and staying up very late to ensure we’d sleep through the night. Because we’re early to bed normally, this was almost impossible. Fortunately, by mid-week, we were better suited to the local time. The bad news was by then our stay was half over.
What would we do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
Well, first of all, building in an extra day on the front end of the trip to deal with jet lag is going to be a must going forward. While that isn’t always possible, particularly with a travel package, we could have exercised the option this time and benefited from a more relaxed physical and mental state.
Secondly, we’ll make sure we’re prepared with non-habit-forming sleep aids to jump start an appropriate sleep pattern. Losing precious time to jet lag isn’t anyone’s idea of using time wisely.
Any other tips to combat and conquer jet lag that you’ve found helpful?
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Becky Blanton says
Jet lag destroyed me when I visited the UK. So when I went to Africa I started getting acclimated to that time zone before I left. It helped a lot. I also learned how to sleep on the plane and take naps rather than a full nights sleep. I slept in airports too.
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Becky – Good idea to acclimate to the new time zone ahead of the trip! In our case, there would have been a twelve hour difference initially, plus complicated by multiple flights. We do nap on the plane as much as possible, too. My big mistake was saying I’m going to just get a couple hours of sleep at one point. Instead, it turned into seven! Live and learn! On the way back, we’re breaking the flights up with a couple of overnight stays in Dublin and LAX. Should be better! 🙂