9 Tips How To Beat Jet Lag Going To Europe
Traveling overseas can be long, draining, and span numerous time zones. This is a recipe for bad jet lag. If you're planning a European trip, read our complete guide below for tips on how to beat jet lag going to Europe.
What Causes Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a temporary condition that occurs when your body's internal clock is not synchronized with the new time zone, which is called your circadian rhythm.
Going to Europe will be certain to disrupt your circadian rhythms. Jet lag leads to fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and other symptoms that may impair your ability to function normally.
While a disruption to your circadian rhythm is most commonly known, there's actually 3 factors causing jet lag.¹
3 Factors Causing Jet Lag:
1. Circadian Rhythm - As mentioned, flying to Europe will certainly cause havoc to your circadian rhythms, therefore effecting your sleep and causing jet lag.¹
2. Sunlight Exposure - Often overlooked, but natural sunlight exposure is the key to regulating your internal time clock and healthy sleep cycles.¹
3. Airplane Cabin Pressure
- While this is the least known, airplane cabin pressure is one of the most significant factors. Oxygen levels in planes are equivalent to 6,000 to 8,000 feet in altitude
, which is also where altitude sickness kicks in. Jet lag symptoms are ironically very similar to altitude sickness too.¹
With these jet lag factors considered, we'll dive in below how to beat jet lag going to Europe.
Why Is Jet Lag Worse Going East?
Why is jet lag worse going east to Europe versus going west coming home? Flying eastward causes worse jet lag because it advances your body clock (earlier sunset), while flying westward delays your body clock (later sunset). It's hypothesized that the body has a harder time advancing its internal time clock than delaying it.²
This is not to say that coming home by flying west will avoid jet lag, but the symptoms may be slightly less than going east.
9 Tips How To Beat Jet Lag Going To Europe
If you're traveling to Europe, you'll likely encounter jet lag at some point.
From sun exposure and hydration to jet lag supplements and schedule shifts --- we've complied our research to give you a complete guide on how to beat jet lag going to Europe.
Here's nine tips how to beat jet lag going to Europe:
1. Shift Schedule Prior to Departure
This tip best answers how to adjust to European time. A week prior to your departure, if you can slowly adjust your schedule to closer align to your new European time zone, you'll help minimize jet lag.³
For example, if flying from New York to London, it's a 5 hour time difference. Shift your schedule 1 hour later each day leading up to your departure, including meals and sleeping times.
By doing this you'll arrive more adjusted to the time zone and help beat jet lag going to Europe.
2. Get Proper Hydration
There's evidence of a dehydration risk in a airplane cabins shown in a 2020 study, contributed to the recirculated, dry, and cool air.⁴
Based on this evidence, you should get proper hydration before and during your flight to Europe. Experts say it's best to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water.
To enhance hydration, add sea salt to your water or take Zaca chewables
3. Increase Sunlight Exposure
Natural sunlight can be the most powerful tool for jet lag and regulating your sleep cycles. It's how your body knows to produce hormones and when to sleep.
Daytime Sunlight - Maximize natural sunlight outside when you arrive to your destination. Even staying outside to see the sunset can be effect, as natural sunlight is exponentially stronger than light through windows or light bulbs.
Nighttime Darkness - When it's time for bed in your new timezone, you want to do the opposite and maximize darkness. This means blackout shades, minimizing blue light from TVs and cell phones, and even dimming the lights leading up to bedtime.
Sunlight can be one of your best friends to adjust to your European destination.
4. Get Plenty of Rest Before Flying
The last thing you want on your European trip is to begin it with a lack of sleep.
If you get ample sleep each night leading up to your flight, between 6-9 hours, you'll better prepare your body for adjustment and recovery.
5. Take Jet Lag Supplements
Supplements are often overlooked as a top way how to beat jet lag going to Europe.
When you body takes a toll from long flights, nutrients play a role, and oxidative stress increases in an airplane.
From research available, here's 2 nutrients that can help:
1. Glutathione - A study from 2016 displayed a decrease in glutathione levels from jet lag.⁵ Supplementing glutathione may help increase your levels to fight off oxidative stress when flying.
2. Glutamine - A Brazilian study proved glutamine to show hydration and anti-fatigue properties.⁶ Supplementing glutamine can help fight the dehydrating and fatiguing effects of airplanes.
Glutathione and glutamine can have synergistic benefits in supplements for jet lag
and the stresses of airplane travel.
6. Short Naps Only
As your body tries to adjust its sleep-wake cycle in the European time zone, getting too much rest before the new bed time will make you less sleepy at night.
If you're so tired you can't stay up during the day, keep your naps short. 10-20 minutes are perfect. But if you enter REM sleep, which starts around 90 minutes, you will throw off your whole sleeping cycle at night.
Taking no naps or short naps only will help your circadian rhythms adjust better to beat jet lag going to Europe.
7. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol can make your body dehydrated and it may also disrupt your sleep cycle.
You should avoid drinking alcohol at least 1 day before and 1 day after your flight going to Europe. This will assure you don't mess up your sleeping schedule anymore than it already is!
Caffeine has been shown to mess with your sleep cycle if consumed too close to bedtime. If you're sensitive to coffee or caffeine, don't drink it after noon each day.
8. Exercise Daily
If you exercise when you travel, it's likely to help promote better sleep, increase energy levels, and lower your stress.⁸
And there's science to back it up. Elon University
discovered in a study that moderate exercise may increase melatonin production at night. Thus, exercise could positively impact sleep quality and help you beat jet lag going to Europe.⁷
Make sure not to do too intense exercises though, which could make it harder for your body to recover. Light workouts, walking, jogging, or hiking are great ways to get moderate exercise.
9. Sleep On Plane During Destination Nighttime
Just like on tip 1, this can help adjust your body before arriving by sleeping on the plane during your destination nighttime.
You essentially want to mimic the time zone you're flying to while in the air.
- If it's daytime at your destination, avoid sleeping or only take short naps.
- If it's nighttime at your destination, sleep as much as you can.
This will help adjust your internal time clock before you reach your destination, that can potentially help lessen jet lag.
Based on our in-depth research, this concludes our best tips on how to beat jet lag going to Europe.
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1. Jet Lag Disorder
2. Is jet lag worse after traveling east than west?
3. Jet Lag - CDC
4. Up in the Air: Evidence of Dehydration Risk and Long-Haul Flight on Athletic Performance
5. Circadian Disruption Reveals a Correlation of an Oxidative GSH/GSSG Redox Shift with Learning and Impaired Memory in an Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model
6. Glutamine as an Anti-Fatigue Amino Acid in Sports Nutrition
7. Influence of Aerobic Exercise on Sleep and Salivary Melatonin in Men
8. The Benefits of Exercise while Traveling