Traveling to Ireland: Sleeping During Your Flight and Combating Jet Lag

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Planning Your Irish Vacation

Resting During Your Flight to Ireland

leaving on a jet plane
On the flight to Ireland

Depending on where you board your flight to Ireland (at least from the US) it is between 8 and 10 hours of flight time.  Within an hour of take off you have a beverage service.  About 60-90 minutes after that you'll have dinner service (on over night flights).  Following that is coffee or tea.

By this time your flight is nearly half over.  An announcement is made telling you that about 90 minutes before landing breakfast will be served.

Simple math will tell you that, between all the meals and service, you have between 2.5 and 4.5 hours to try and rest before you land in Ireland in the early morning hours.  No matter how you look at it, that's not a lot of time.

The one blessing is that children can sleep anywhere, so your kids will likely be much more rested than the adults.  Great for their attitudes, but not so helpful with driving.

Tips for Arriving in Ireland (Somewhat) Rested

  • Do your best to get 8+ hours of sleep at least 3 nights before you leave.  Technically you can't “save up” excess sleep but it certainly is more helpful than not having enough sleep before you leave.
  • Decaffeinate.  Put down the sodas and coffee and pick up water.  Not only will being well hydrated help you fight jet lag, but removing stimulants from your body will make it a bit easier to sleep when you have the chance.
  • Set your watch/phone/iPod to the local time in Ireland.  It's helpful for your mind to at least know what time you're acclimating to- even if your body argues.
  • Eat light.  Try to avoid fats, which can keep you awake; carbs, like pasta or bread, may help you sleep.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Try to drink at least 16 oz of water before your flight, and an 8 oz glass for every hour you're in the air.
  • Wear shoes that can slip off and comfortable clothing.  It is possible that your feet may swell when you fly and tight clothing may not be comfortable enough to allow you to relax.
  • Bring the tools you need: ear plugs or ear phones, a sleep mask and a neck pillow will help you make the most of the narrow seat that is serving as your bed for the night.
  • Even if you can't sleep, do your best to relax.  A quick 45 minute nap is better than nothing.

Tips for Waking Up Before You Land

  • As the flight attendants begin serving breakfast to the front of the cabin, get up.  Walk around.  Stretch.  Go the the bathroom.  Wash your face and brush your teeth. 
  • Eat breakfast and drink a bit of coffee or tea.
  • Don't rush to get off the plane.  Take your time and allow your body to adjust to being back on land.  (Let everyone else rush to baggage- and wait for the plane to be unloaded- and rush to car rental- and wait in lines.  Get used to the relaxed pace of Ireland upon landing!)

Tips for Adjusting to Ireland Time

  • If possible, check in to your first night's lodging early (or pay for the night before – in which case you'll be arriving very late!)  Take a short nap- no more than two hours- then shower and begin exploring!
  • If it's not possible to check in to your lodging early, get active right away.  If you sit down for too long, you'll be asleep before you know it.
  • Set an alarm the next morning.  Yes, you'll likely be tired, but the sooner you make your body adjust to the local time, the easier it will be to get over jet lag.
  • Enjoy a leisurely Irish breakfast.  Those tasty meats and eggs will give your body lots of energy.  Wash it down with strong black tea and you're ready to go!

A Note About the Return Trip…

sleeping at Atlanta Airport
Catching a rest in Atlanta on the way home

Your flight home will seem longer for a couple of reasons. 

  1. You are flying during the day.  Your body wants to be awake.
  2. When you arrive home it will still be early.  We left Dublin at 9am and arrived in Atlanta about 1  pm.  To our bodies it was 8pm- and we still had a flight to Chicago that didn't leave for 4 hours!
  3. Again, hydrate, eat light, move around, and try to relax.

Give yourself a day after returning from your trip to re-acclimate to your local time, unpack and sleep before heading back to work, school or other activities.

What are your tips for fighting jet lag and travel tiredness?  Please share in the comments!



  1. […] Also pack any personal toiletries and makeup you use in your morning routine- toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cleanser… Working through a bit of your morning routine upon landing can go a long way toward fighting jet lag. […]

    @iatraveler Great post, thanks for sharing such detail!

    @Annb2 Thanks for the kind words, Ann! Also, what are the best Christmas markets in Ireland? Trip planning underway!

      @iatraveler wow Christmas in July! I’ll have to think about that – leave it with me I’ll get back to you!

      @iatraveler Have you’ve seen this on Christmas markets: seems to be the go-to place to start looking.

        @Annb2 Yep, i saw that one. Just wondered of you had any other info. 🙂

          @iatraveler no sorry it’s a touch ahead of the curve for me! I don’t usually function that far ahead – I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you tho!

    @IrishFireside Thanks for the RT Corey. It looks like we’ll be heading back to Ireland for Christmas markets. 🙂

    @iatraveler I wish I had read this post before my trip to Australia last month. Trip was great but jet lag was a killer!

      @dawnbuzy But helpful for next big trip! Glad you enjoyed the post!

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