How to Avoid Jet Lag When Going to Europe
Traveling through multiple time zones to Europe can confuse the body to the point of feeling tired and unable to concentrate. When flying from the US to Europe, normally the flights are overnight, so a flight leaving the East coast in the early evening will arrive in Europe in the early morning. Getting the body ready for a trip to Europe is different than getting it ready for a trip to Asia. Because there is a leap ahead in time by almost a half a day, it is important to get the body to acclimate to that extra time without shutting down.
Prepare the Body
Take the two weeks before scheduled to leave and gradually set the bedtime and wake-up time back 10 or 15 minutes each day. Adjusting the body's clock gradually will help make the transition to a new time zone much easier. Rest before leaving. Take the two days before the flight leaves and rest. Don't do a lot of activity and try and go to bed a little earlier and wake up a little earlier.
Limit or eliminate caffeine, sugar and alcohol the night before and the day of the flight. A long flight can be very dehydrating. Don't eat a heavy meal before or during the flight. Eat light and sip water often. Alcohol and other depressants will stress the body more.
Get flexible during the flight. Try and move the body as much as possible in the seat. Flex the ankles and knees. Gently roll the head and stretch the neck. Stretch the arms forward and roll the wrists around. If possible to get up and walk the aisle a little, do so. If heading to the bathroom, stay up a little longer and push up on the tip-toes to stretch the backs of the legs.
When arriving in Europe, don't be reminded what time it is back home, just take on the idea of what time it is in the new location. If there is something exciting to go and do, go do it and get on with the day as if no time change took place. It is suprising what the mind can accomplish.
Stay awake. It's the only way to set to the local time. It may be 8 a.m. when arriving in London, but the body is saying "No, it's only 2 a.m., I should be asleep." Start the European vacation right away. Staying out in the light is very important to overcoming jet lag. Go for a walk. Get some coffee. Do some window shopping. Do anything active to stay up. Then head to bed at 8 or 9 p.m. Wake up at a "normal" time, ready for the second day.