Most flights from the US to Italy are overnight. On flights like these, one minute you’re having dinner, and four hours later, the sun is rising, and breakfast is being served! Your body has just been pushed into a slight state of confusion, which means it’s only a matter of time before jetlag begins to set in.
Experiencing jetlag when traveling to Italy is something that no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can never seem to avoid. Sometimes it takes as little as a few days for the effects of jetlag to wear off, and other times (like my last trip), it took about three weeks for me to adjust (ain’t nobody got time for that!). In my defense, my last visit was slightly different from previous ones – I hit the ground running from the moment I landed. Between reconnecting with friends, networking for business, exploring new cities, and keeping up with my family and friends back home, I felt like I was “always-on”.
During the first couple of weeks, I found myself wide awake at 11 p.m., relaxing in my Airbnb, and binge-watching Amazon Prime and Bravo! Unfortunately, this also meant falling asleep between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. (sigh). Now, don’t get me wrong, I felt completely rested once I woke up, however, I would have preferred to start my day before noon.
I knew I had to make a few changes to my daily routine if I wanted to finally recover from the effects of jetlag, and it didn’t require me to do much more than I was already doing. However, to be most effective, I had to make sure I was doing 5 things consistently within an abbreviated period of time. So, here goes….
1. Stick to a sleep schedule based on the local time zone – that means if you normally go to sleep at 9 p.m. (your old time zone), try to go to sleep as close as possible to 9 p.m. (in the local time zone). (This also applies to your wake schedule)
2. When it comes to eating meals, the same rules apply. Don’t abandon your usual meal schedule (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). This can be tricky for dinner since restaurants in Italy usually begin dinner service around 8/8:30 p.m., however, it’s not impossible to find restaurants that serve dinner earlier (especially in larger cities). We suggest dining at those establishments during your first couple of days. Once you’ve adjusted to the new time zone, you’ll be more accustomed to eating dinner later in the evening.
3. While remaining indoors, leave the window shutters open to help your body recognize the time of day. Some window shutters in Italy are like blackout curtains – even when it’s early in the day, closed shutters give the illusion that it’s late at night. If you’re comfortable sleeping with them open for the first few nights, we say go for it!
4. Stay hydrated while on the plane and continue once you’ve landed. This helps combat dehydration and fatigue.
5. When you arrive in Italy, allow yourself a day or two to rest – build it into your itinerary. It’s ok if you have nothing planned for that time besides relaxing. While there may be an urge to hit the ground running (like I did), if you don’t need to, then don’t do it. Remember, Italy is the land of La Dolce Vita and people are all about taking time to enjoy it, so rest assured nothing is going to pass you by (and your body will thank you for it)!
In hindsight, I wish I implemented these 5 things from day one on my last visit. If I had, adjusting to the new time zone certainly wouldn’t have taken me so long.
While everyone responds differently to jetlag, we hope doing these 5 things will help you quickly minimize its effects during your next trip to Italy (or anywhere in Europe for that matter)!
If you’ve experienced jetlag before, what are some things you’ve done to quickly recover from it?