I'd agreee abnout the sleep Frank. Years ago I was on a half full flight on a 747 and there were 2 of us in a middle row of 4 seats. I slept on the floor between the seats and the other guy slept on the seats. We both slept all night. But they don't let you do that these days....
But I can't agree about North/South flights. At least you are still supposed to wake up and go to bed at the same times, even if you are tired. E/W and vice versa are terrible, even if you're sleeping OK your body just doesn't "get it".
There is evidence that wearing earplugs reduces fatigue and jetlag on long flights by blocking the high ambient noise levels and aiding restful sleep when you need it. Moulded earplugs are more comfortable when worn for long periods of time and are often more effective than foam earplugs as they don't fall out.
This very interesting report on some research suggests that adjusting your eating pattern to match that of your destiniation may have bigger impact than adjduting your sleep pattern ahead of time.
Going from west to east, US to Europe, you must sleep on the plane or you lose a day in Europe. So I take a generic ambien, antihistamines work for some people.Flights from the east coast are at night so that works, take earplugs and an eye mask. East to west I just stay up and try to be entertained then go to sleep early. Works for me. Sleeping east to west would put you out of sync with local time.
As an electronics design consultantI used to spend a couple of weeks in the US then back home to Scotland for a couple of weeks and so on. My body clock had no idea of where it should be much of the time. I started taking Melatonin to help me sleep and it made a big improvement. It simply supplements the natural melatonin the body should be producing so no sleeping pill 'hangover'; ususally a cup of tea and some blue sky is enough to wake you up. As it has stated anti-cancer properties I now take it all the time.
Most people seem to call travel fatigue "jet lag". It is only jet lag when you travel E-W or W-E.
Having done manuy USA-NZ trips I think I have figured out two options that work well.
The key to adjusting well is to either:
* Sleep very well the night before you travel. That way you can pre-compensate for the time shift and also build up a sleep surplus to tide you through the shift.
- or -
* Sleep as little as you can the night before. That way, you just get on the flight and sleep well in the air no matter how many babies are crying or how badly you fit in the seat.
Yes, sleep on the plane no matter what time it is.
For west to east flights, like from the western U.S. to Europe, it helps to take a redeye flight and go right to sleep after takeoff -- a couple drinks can help with this :)
When you wake up in Europe, it's mid-day but you feel like you've had a decent night's sleep and it's easier to push through the rest of the day until normal bedtime, local time.
For east to west flights, stay up late the night before you leave, take an early a.m. flight, and again go back to sleep right after takeoff -- to get the rest of the sleep you should've gotten the night before. When you land, the day is still young, but again you are rested and can push through the rest of the day until normal bedtime, local time.
The worst is going north to south or vice-versa, like from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere in the lower half of S. America. The clock only changes by a couple of time zones, but you've been on a plane for half a day. No easy solution for jet lag in that case.
When I traveled from California to Saudi Arabia and back, I would stay awake while en route. Then when I'd arrived, I would remain awake until the local day had ended. This would get me into time sync almost immediately. Pick flights that leave in the 'local' morning, and arrive whenever. Go to sleep or continue to work until local night. This only works properly when you do not miss a connecting flight and have a 24 hour layover. In that event your going to be lagged :-)
To me the most important thing is to sleep on the plane, maybe tuning your sleep time to the time at your destination. My recipe is Melatonin (It *does* help me with sleeping), anti-histaminic and a few shots of hard liquor ( I use whisky :-)). Ibuprofen when you wake up (but it works better if take it 2 or 3 hours before, should you wake up then). And that's it. Now, understand me.... I am the opposite of a "legal junkie" and I *hate* medication (aside of Melatonin which is not really one) but I **hate** even more jetlag, and then some .