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West USA to Europe Jet Lag: What to Expect

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

So I provided you with all my jet lag tips, but now I want to do this post on exactly what to expect when traveling from the West side of the US, to Europe (this specific one way, as returning is different).

It's a 9hour difference and it does change drastically than when you come from the East coast for example. Those 3 extra jet lag hours are pretty brutal. And after doing this trip more than a dozen of times, half of them with little kids, I am ready to provide you with this detailed post on what to expect, and day to day tips. Let's begin.

DAY 1. You have flown (usually overnight if it's direct) and obviously, you want to sleep as much as you can on the flight, or at least get your kids to do so. You typically land in the early evening, and you can hold off going to bed until 9-10pm. You may think this will be your bedtime and will wake up in the morning, easy right? Wrong. Your internal clock is still shifted so that will be like a long nap, you most likely will wake sometime between midnight and 2am, and will want to be up until the early hours of the morning, so will the kids. It's okay. Bring lots of stuff to do at home/hotel at night, remember, toys and activities for the kids too, keep lights dimmed, try a bathtub to relax, essential oils, and avoid screens.

DAY 2. You went to bed really late, so you will want to sleep in. And that is OK. Remember that sleep is important during travels since you want to prioritize your recovery and immune system, especially when you travel with kids. You may wake up at 1pm, remember it's day 1, we will work on changing this. But for now, prioritize your family's well being. Your goal now is to find sunshine as soon as you wake up, go outdoors and be active all day! Start changing the internal clock, work on building natural melatonin with daylight ASAP. And get those bodies moving and tired for the night.

The kids will want to take a nap late, and that is ok too. They need a nap. My recommendation here is: try to have them nap on-the-go, even if it's late. Get a stroller and have them nap at 9pm whenever they feel tired, and you adults go enjoy a quiet dinner! Wake them after an hour nap (even if usually its 2h) and then, go do something active (this is why I like to travel during the summer months you can be out late at a park or just have them walk with you home). You'll go to bed late, but it will be earlier than the day prior and the goal is that everyday, nap and bedtime is 1h earlier.

DAY 3. So lets say an example: day2 you woke up at 1pm, had kids nap at 9pm, and went to bed at 4am. Then day3, you'll want to set the alarm for 12pm (or naturally do so), nap at 8pm, and go to bed at 2am. Everyday will be 1h earlier of everything, and it usually happens totally naturally.

So day 4 you wake up at 11am

Day 5 you wake up at 10am

Day 6 you wake up at 9am

And you can leave it this way, if you are on vacation, waking at 9am is great: plus, winter mornings are too cold, and summer nights are gorgeous, so by day 6-7 you should be good to go!

Please note: after ALL my trips, this above is what happens NATURALLY to us, and that's why I am writing it down to you, Because I think it's amazing that our bodies can adapt naturally, it's just a matter of time, its a complete night and day difference. And because I see so many people trying to force themselves and their kids to this drastic change sooner, remember this: you can't simply expect your kids to switch day and night schedules if its not gradually and naturally.

Work on all the tips to develop melatonin naturally, and to adapt better, speeding up the process.

Be patient knowing that it takes time.

Don't try to rush it and get anyone sick with lack of sleep and grumpiness.

And having these realistic expectations will also help you take it easy and plan right with night activities to do the first few days, and plan late dinners while on-the-go napping :)

And remember, the food shifts too: we are used to eating at the opposite schedule so kids will be hungry all night, which also keeps them up, it also will take about a week of eating through the day slowly, to be able to not be hungry at night.

You got this. Enjoy!


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