It’s a five-hour difference between my hometown and Ireland.
It doesn’t seem like that much.
But put me on a plane, give me little to no sleep and expect me to function five hours earlier than I normally would…
Then five hours becomes a big deal.
Enter jet lag: the extreme tiredness that happens after a long flight across several time zones.
Jet lag can be awful if you aren’t prepared for it.
It can still be awful if you are prepared for it, but it’s definitely manageable and totally worth it (even if you are from Cali or Vancouver, ugh, 8 hours–I’m sorry).
When we arrive in Ireland
I am full of energy. I want to see EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been to Ireland, I am like a kid 10 minutes after the candy store. Let’ssss goooooo!!
But then the adrenaline fades, and while I am of course still super excited to be in Ireland, my body simply screams nap time please.
I don’t think this initial rush and then a slow fade is particularly unusual. It’s just jet lag catching up with our bodies.
But it’s at this very point when you must decide your jet-lag-beating course of action. Otherwise the next several days may be rougher than you intended.
Three Ways to Conquer Jet Lag in Ireland
I find there are three primary approaches to conquering dreaded jet lag, and I’ve learned that quite a few people are very passionate about the “right way” to do it.
Well, I’m more of a “do what works best for you” kind of gal. So to me, it makes sense to just lay all the options out and let you decide what’s best for you. Right?
Option 1: The Energizer Bunny
The Rules: Regardless of how much you do or do not sleep on the plane, you must stay awake until it’s a reasonable hour to go to bed at the local time (like 9 PM or later).
This is the one all the travel experts say is the best way to quickly get over jet lag. And I would definitely agree it’s a great option if you can hack it.
It’s not for me though.
I can do it, but it isn’t pretty. Joe doesn’t thrive in this scenario either. We both end up shutting down by about 3 PM and the rest of the day is not much fun.
e.g. Cue whining from me and almost complete silence from Joe (not sure if it’s because he’s so tired he can’t form the words or if he thinks ignoring me will shut me up. I am sure it’s not the latter… ).
So this way, although effective, doesn’t really seem to work for us. I want all of our days to be enjoyable including the first one.
Option 2: The Planner
The Rules: Prior to leaving for Ireland, set your alarm clock for an hour earlier everyday until you reach the number of hours of time difference from your home time zone to Irish Standard Time.
So for me, being a five-hour time difference from Pennsylvania to Ireland. Five days before my trip I would set my alarm for 1 hour earlier. The next day, I would set it two hours earlier. The following day, three hours earlier. You get the idea. Until I am getting up five hours earlier.
As much of a planner that I am, I have yet to master this method.
I tend to be doing “all the things” before leaving on a big trip so getting up earlier (and subsequently going to bed earlier) just never seems to happen.
If I got myself together, I think this could be a great one-two punch with the other options though. You could train your body to adjust to even just two hours earlier to make the transition a little less jarring.
Option #3: The Napper
The Rules: Purchase accommodations for the night before your arrival day in Ireland. Check-in at your hotel/B&B upon landing (which is typically in the morning from the US). Have a full Irish breakfast if you are hungry. Rest for no more than two hours. Shower and enjoy the remainder of the day from early afternoon on. Go to bed at a normal hour.
This is our tried-and-true, works-for-us method.
I know some of you are going to say nooooo. Don’t sleep!
But here’s the great thing with this method: You sleep at a reasonable hour in the morning and not for any great length of the time. And you still have most of the day to enjoy Ireland.
Unless you slept like a log on the plane, you’ll still be tired enough to go to sleep at night AND you won’t be a grouch to your spouse (sorry for those first few trips, Joe).
Plus, since you’ve booked a room for the night before and arranged a morning check-in, you’ve got your home base all set up. Once you do go out exploring there is no need to be back at a certain time to check-in and you can go to and fro as you please.
The biggest downside to purchasing your accommodations for the night before is having to pay for an extra night of accommodations. But I find that this method is just as effective as The Energizer Bunny or the Planner.
Universal Jet Lag in Ireland Tips
Regardless of which method you choose, there are several tips that anyone can use to ease the effects of jet lag.
- When you get on the airplane, change your watch to Ireland time (or put a note on your phone to remind yourself to add X # of hours to the current time). Knowing what time it is in Ireland will help you do tip #2.
- Sleep and eat when the Irish do. When the food cart rolls around at 10 PM local time to serve you dinner–look at your watch and ask yourself what are the Irish doing now (answer: sleeping!). Eat a nice dinner before you hop on the plane and do your best to get shut-eye right away.
- Have the right tools. Get a good eye mask, ear plugs and even a travel pillow to help you catch some zzz’s early. The ones we use are listed on my resources page, but grab whatever you think will work best for you.
- Avoid the temptation to watch a movie, scroll on your phone, drink alcohol or caffeine. It’s a quiet read during take off and water for you.
- Get some sun during the day. Ok easier said than done in Ireland, but when you arrive head outside to trick your body into registering day vs. night.
- If you do lay down to rest, set an alarm. You don’t want to find that you slept the day away and are wide awake at 11 PM–essentially perpetuating the cycle of jet lag and missing a whole day in Ireland.
What am I missing? Any other great tips for conquering jet lag in Ireland? Let me know in the comments!
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