How To Prepare For Jet Lag To Europe: 11 Best Tips

How To Prepare For Jet Lag To Europe

Planning a trip to Europe can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, but jet lag can significantly disrupt your travel, leaving you feeling fatigued and disoriented. To prevent the worst from happening, in this guide we'll explore how to prepare for jet lag to Europe and our best eleven tips to make the most of your European adventure.

What Causes Europe Jet Lag?

Jet lag going to Europe is a common condition that happens due to disruption in an individual's internal body clock when traveling across the many time zones. However, several factors can contribute to this condition resulting in a range of negative symptoms — including fatigue, headaches, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, lowered cognitive function, and irritability.

Here's the top 5 causes of Europe Jet Lag, playing a role in severity and duration:

1. Passing Time Zones
The most well-known cause of jet lag, crossing time zones disrupts your sleep-wake cycle and your body's natural circadian rhythm. Flying to Europe can range between 5 to 10 time zones difference.
2. Airplane Oxygen Levels
Surprising to most travelers, the lower oxygen levels in airplane cabins can contribute to jet lag similar to the cause of altitude sickness.¹ Airplane cabins are pressurized on average between 5,000 - 9,000 feet,³ much higher than sea level and comparable to visiting Denver (at 5,280 feet high).¹
3. Airplane Dry Cabin Air
Long-haul flights are known to have a dehydrating risk due to the dry, recirculated cabin air in the plane leading to fluid loss.²
4. Reduced Sunlight
Sunlights is one of the main mechanisms to regulating our body's melatonin production and circadian rhythm, playing a key role in sleep.³ When you're deprived of natural sunlight when flying and in airports on a long trip, it can be a key factor in jet lag.³
5. Lack Of Movement
Exercise and movement are important to stress management, energy, melatonin levels, and sleep quality. Being sedentary on a plane for long periods of time can further jet lag problems.[⁴][⁵]
Beyond just passing through time zones, the combination of these additional factors will add up to your jet lag. You'll want to be well prepared for jet lag traveling to Europe, in which we'll share our best tips below.

Is Jet Lag Worse Going To Or From Europe?

Flying from the US, jet lag is worse going to Europe.

A study from 2016 confirmed that traveling east versus west is worse for jet lag.⁶ When traveling to Europe from the US, you're traveling east and therefore it's hard for your body to adjust.

How Long Does It Take To Adjust Jet Lag Europe?

According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes about a day to recover for each time zone traveled, especially if you're flying East.⁷

Based on this data, it could take 5-10 days to fully adjust and recover flying to Europe based on 5-10 time zone changes. New York to UK is 5 hour time difference, California to Greece is a 10 hour time difference.

To learn how to prepare for jet lag to Europe so you can decrease this time to adjust, read our best tips below.

How Bad Is Jet Lag From US to UK?

Depending on where you're coming from, Jet lag is can be bad flying from the US to UK.

It will be the least worst if on Eastern Time (EST) in a place like New York with a 5 hour time difference, and will get significantly worse in a place like California on Pacific Time (PST) with a 8 hour time difference.

While flying to Europe or the United Kingdom will not be as long of a duration as Australia or Japan, it's substantial and on average can be comparable to trips to Hawaii. While jet lag going to UK can be bad, but going to eastern Europe can get significantly worse.

11 Best Tips How To Prepare For Jet Lag To Europe

Jet lag can often be a challenging aspect of long-haul travel, particularly when flying to Europe. The disruption to your body's internal clock and other factor can leave you feeling fatigued, disoriented, and kill the enjoyment of your European trip.

As a company in the wellness industry for over a decade, we'll share with you the most researched preparation tips and helpful strategies to minimize the effects of jet lag flying to Europe.

Here's Our 11 Best Tips How To Prepare For Jet Lag To Europe:

1. Maximize Hydration

Risk of dehydration is increased when flying due to the dry, recirculated, cool airplane conditions.²

Combat these conditions by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to Europe. Drinking at least half your weight in water per day is optimal.

TIP: To help maximize your hydration, you can add sea salt (contains electrolytes) to your foods, and take Zaca hydration chewable tablets that enhance water absorption.

2. Adjust Your Sleeping Before Flying

You can cut down your adjustment time according to the CDC by adjusting your sleep schedule before flying.⁸ 1-2 weeks before travel, begin to slowly adjust when you go to bed each night.

  • Traveling east to Europe, go to bed an hour earlier than usual each night.
This sleeping schedule change could knock multiple days off of your body's adjustment and jet lag severity.⁸

3. Get Plenty Of Sunlight

To combat the deprivation of sunlight during travel and optimize melatonin production, get plenty of sunlight each day when you arrive in Europe.³

Sunlight is one of the main mechanisms to regulating our body's melatonin production and circadian rhythms, and playing a key role in sleep.³ When you're deprived of natural sunlight when flying and in airports on a long trip, it can be a key factor in jet lag.³

4. Switch to European Time on the Plane

Once you step foot on the plane, you should switch to your time to the European destination, especially with regards to sleeping. This allows you to match up your sleep-wake to the country you're visiting before arrival to dampen jet lag.

For example, if you're traveling to Greece it could be nighttime there when you first take off in the US, yet daytime on the plane. In this scenario, you'll want to sleep just as if you're already in Greece. This will ease the adjustment shock when you first arrive.

5. Supplement Immune Booster

When you travel, your immune system is exposed to foreign environments and stresses that can weaken the body. A weakened immune system can be more susceptible to jet lag type symptoms including fatigue and headaches.

Supplement an immune booster to fortify your body before and during your European trip. Vitamin C for example is shown to support your immune system and protect against oxidative stress (avoid synthetic vitamin C called ascorbic acid).¹⁶

6. Fast During Flight

Research in 2009 found that circadian rhythms can be regulated or reset when food is scarce, which is accomplished when fasting.¹⁰ This could have a positive effect on jet lag.

Dr. Saper suggests fasting in a 12-16 hour window the day before and day of travel.¹⁰

7. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic that leads to dehydration, and also can worsen sleep quality and decrease blood oxygen saturation.¹¹ These side effects will not be any friend to jet lag and further put strain on your body.

Avoid or alcohol during flight and at least on your first day or two of arrival in Europe. While you'll might be eager to enjoy some Italian wine, German beer, or Irish whiskey, wait until you feel clear of any jet lag symptoms before having some drinks.

8. Arrive Early

While it can take 24 hours for jet lag to kick in, the first few days will be the hardest. Based on what you're traveling for, business or vacation, you'll want to arrive a few days early as a buffer for feeling any jet lag and to get adjusted.

This also helps you avoid booking to many activities in the first few days, which can further worsen jet lag. By getting ample rest and following many of these other tips listed, arriving early gives you the time to adjust and recover in Europe before your destination checklist begins.

9. Moderate Caffeine

Caffeine can be a double-edged sword when arriving to Europe. While coffee can improve alertness when you wake up to help ease feelings of lag, it can also put a damper to your sleep and internal body clock if drank too late in the day.¹²

Scientists discovered that drinking caffeine in the evening can mimic jet lag by actually set back your body clock by almost an hour.¹² It's best to moderate your caffeine intake, and avoid drinking it in the afternoon or evening.

10. Exercise Daily

Elon University found exercise to increase melatonin production,¹³ and it's also been shown to reduce stress, enhance energy, and increase blood flow.¹⁴ These benefits can help fortify your health and better help your body combat jet lag.

Exercising daily is a good travel routine when you get to Europe, even hiking or long distance walking can stimulate similar benefits.

11. Take Antioxidants

SIU School Medicine discovered a correlation with jet lag decreasing glutathione, considered the body's master antioxidant.¹⁷ This could also relate to the lower oxygen levels in an airplane, which just like high altitude conditions can cause oxidative stress.¹⁸

Taking antioxidants in pills or chewables, including glutathione, not only helps strengthen your body's ability to combat free radical damage, it can help regenerate immune boosting vitamin C.¹⁹

In summary, to learn how to prepare for jet lag to Europe, follow these top eleven tips — including maximizing hydration, adjusting your sleeping before flying, getting plenty of sunlight, switching to European time on the airplane, supplementing immune boosters, fasting during flight, avoiding alcohol, arriving early, moderating caffeine, exercising daily, and supplementing antioxidants.

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1. Can You Get Altitude Sickness from Flying?
2. Up in the Air: Evidence of Dehydration Risk and Long-Haul Flight on Athletic Performance
3. How Sun Exposure Affects Sleep and Melatonin Production
4. The Benefits of Exercise while Traveling
5. Influence of Aerobic Exercise on Sleep and Salivary Melatonin in Men
6. Is jet lag worse travelling east rather than west?
7. Jet lag disorder
8. Jet Lag Before Travel - CDC
9. Traveling To Europe And Beyond? Prepare For Jet Lag
10. Resetting Your Circadian Clock To Minimize Jet Lag
11. Effects of Alcohol
12. Why drinking coffee can give you jet lag – and help you get over it
13. The Benefits of Exercise while Traveling
14. Influence of Aerobic Exercise on Sleep and Salivary Melatonin in Men
15. Advice on How to Prevent and Recover From Jet Lag
16. Vitamin C and Immune Function
17. Circadian Disruption Reveals a Correlation of an Oxidative GSH/GSSG Jet Lag
18. High altitude and oxidative stress
19. Glutathione Benefits
20. A US – Europe Jet Lag Routine That Works Well!