Long haul flight, how do I not mess up my sleeping pattern?

Travel Forums General Talk Long haul flight, how do I not mess up my sleeping pattern?

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Hong Kong
1. Posted by Foxbarr (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

So I'm travelling from the UK to Hong Kong via Dubai and I want to not completely mess up my sleeping pattern, how would I do this?

Flights leaves the UK at 10pm, 7 hour flight to Dubai that arrives at 8am, then leaves Dubai at 10am and gets to Hong Kong at 10pm.

Any advice on when/If I should sleep? Basically I want to be tired when I get to Hong Kong so I can sleep for the next day and go out and see the sights.


2. Posted by Piecar (Inactive 1218 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

You WILL be tired when you get to Hong Kong. I think you'll maybe be able to feed yourself, and then you'll pass out. Or I would, with that schedule.

3. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1589 posts) 4y 1 Star this if you like it!

This Web site and others can provide useful information: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/jet-lag-and-sleep

I criss-cross the world routinely on long-haul flights, including one last fall when I crossed 12 time zones from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Atlanta via Moscow and Amsterdam. I try to get rested a couple of days before a flight. That means avoiding packing and getting ready at the last minute. After boarding the aircraft, I set my watch to the destination (in your case, Dubai, then Hong Kong). My routine on long flights is to eat, sleep (nap) and watch a movie. Sometimes I'll skip the movie and listen to music instead. I don't turn on the overhead light until mealtime. The aircraft generally will be dark for a reason: Allowing people to get some rest. But I will move around the aircraft a few times. That helps prevent blood clots. I avoid alcohol; but will have some coffee if I'll be arriving at my final destination during daylight hours. If that's so, I try to get as much sunlight and exercise (walking) as possible until evening. That will help reset my circadian rhythm. I try to eat lightly and earlier so I can sleep better the first evening.

I generally find that it takes one day to adjust to each time zone crossed. In your case it will be about a week, since Hong Kong is seven hours ahead of the time in London. This Web site is useful: https://www.timeanddate.com/

4. Posted by Tabithag (Respected Member 1042 posts) 4y 1 Star this if you like it!

I think I must be quite lucky, as I rarely have an issue with jetlag. I don't generally get much sleep on a flight, so if I have a flight coming up, I'll try to get a few good night's sleep in the days before. If the time difference is going to be significant, I might also try to get to bed/get up a bit earlier or later, so start off the change, but that isn't always an option.

Once on the flight, I do try to move straight to the time zone that I am travelling to, but usually the flight timetable of meals etc doesn't work well with that, they tend to stay on the departure time zone for at least the first half. I think if I were more effected by the timezone change, I would sort food to my own timetable, so that I could stick to it better.

Once in the new time zone, I try to stick to the new bedtime, even if that feels too early or too late. At most, I might have a forty minute doze during the day, if I've had little sleep on the flight and have to stay up late. I'll allow myself a bit of a lie in if necessary, but normally by the next morning, I'm fine.

For your flight, I would try to sleep through the first leg, then stay awake for the second, and hopefully be ready for a good night's sleep when you get to Hong Kong.

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Jun-2018, at 14:59 by Tabithag ]

5. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

In my experience most of the time I don't have a problem as on arrival at my destination I try to struggle through exhausted until late in the evening local time and a good nights sleep through exhaustion and then waking by an alarm at a sensible local morning hour usually sorts me out.

However I have had the odd bad one, especially going east to west, where I'm in a bit of a daze for a couple of days. There's no particular reason for it, but it happens.

Trying to sleep on the plane at the appropriate times for your destination and staying hydrated properly would probably help, but 'just in case' I've found the best thing to do is to make sure I don't plan too much into my first couple of days and on my first night I don't go out all night arriving at back at the hotel in the early hours of the next day, with a skin full of booze which would screw up my normal sleep patterns, let alone new time zone sleep patterns...

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Jun-2018, at 15:17 by Andrew Mack ]

6. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4949 posts) 4y 1 Star this if you like it!

You can't change the time in Hong Kong. Some people anticipating a long flight overseas begin changing their sleep pattern at home to match the country they will visit. If you can do this or not depends on your at home schedule. Not as easy if you are employed and work days. Retired or a bum like me if I wanted to I could sleep days and be a wake nights and match my time to Asia time.

For me, I have flown quite a few flights to Asia from the US. (Longer flights than you have coming up.) I don't do much of anything before the flight except pack bags and stop my mail. On the flight over I read until it is hard to keep eyes open. Then a short nap. Sometimes maybe glance at the seat back TV while reading.

I do have a sleep mask, blow up pillow and ear plugs. During the flight I do get up often to avoid blood clots same as post 3. Read up on DVT blood clots!

I don't drink alcohol during the flight. Except once or twice when I have a free upgrade to business/first class seats and they passed out champagne. Too much alcohol for me means more stops at the toilet. Anyway I would rather be alert for problems that might come up.

Arrival in Asia I head for the hotel, clean up a little and go out for a while even if it was midnight. I walk a bit, have a beer or two then back to the hotel. I DO NOT sleep in late next morning. Out and about by 8 a.m. My feeling the faster I put my body on overseas time the easier it is to adjust to time changes.

When I fly I use one of my cheap digital watches that has 2 time zones. Secondary time zone I keep on home time. I change the regular time to match where I am. I find it helpful for sending emails back home knowing what time it is there and knowing if someone will be awake or not. I adjust the date to match overseas location. (This digital watch also has a wake up alarm. If I have an early morning flight I DO NOT rely on any front desk clerk waking me up on time. Some laptops and phones also have wake up alarms. You oversleep and miss a flight home a replacement flight will not be cheap!)

  • * First time away from home stop your mail and any newspaper delivery unless someone reliable can bring the mail and papers in. Lots of mail in the box or a stack of newspapers says "no one home come on in and rob me!" I empty my trash before leaving. Bloody meat wrappers, seafood scraps and other garbage will really stink up the house when they spoil!

Good luck.

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Jun-2018, at 16:10 by karazyal ]

7. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Quoting karazyal

I empty my trash before leaving. Bloody meat wrappers, seafood scraps and other garbage will really stink up the house when they spoil!

An open carton of 3 month old milk leaves a refrigerator with an 'interesting' odour as well

8. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4949 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Yeah, spoiled milk will let you know it!

I live in a semi-rural area where there are streams and some woods. Mice in the winter sometimes like to visit garages, sheds and even house cellars. I have to remember to spring any mouse traps before leaving on a long trip. The old saying "I smell a rat" applies to little mice too! One little sucker can stink up a whole basement!

(For the milk if sufficient quantity I try to remember to put it in the freezer part of the refrigerator. But it will take days to defrost when you return!)

9. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1388 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

If I were making these flights I would try (and probably fail!) to get some sleep on the first leg, but be sure to stay awake on the second however tired I felt. That way you should arrive in Hong Kong feeling ready to sleep which puts you in line with the time over there (by the time you reach your hotel it will be bed time for sure).

I also echo what others have said above - put your watch on the destination time ASAP, take regular walks to avoid any DVT issues, drink little or no alcohol (but plenty of water). Also you can use the short transit at Dubai to get some exercise - walk around rather than sitting waiting for the next flight, and maybe grab a coffee as it will be stronger and better than any coffee you can get on board and will help you stay awake till Hong Kong bedtime. There are also warnings around about the health risks of drinking tea or coffee on a plane - see http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/the-gross-reason-why-flight-attendants-never-drink-hot-drinks-during-flights/

10. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2420 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

If I am arriving in the morning after an overnight flight, I try to do something outside but not strenuous and that doesn't require laser like concentration (like ride on the top of an open double decker bus) for most of the day. I may let my husband (who does not sleep on a plane) take a short nap, and I will take a shower once I get to the room, and then I go out and stay outside until I can have an early dinner and go to bed. Then I get up at the normal time for the new location. This works for me going west to east (USA to Europe) even across 7 or 8 time zones.

Going the other way, east to west i.e. USA to Australia is a bit more difficult and no matter what I do, I often find myself awake in the middle of the night there. But I just go ahead and get up and write emails or something until I feel I can sleep, and then go back to sleep. And I don't worry about it as it is nothing that worry will help with.