How long does jet lag last from USA to UK? Well firstly that depends whether you are flying from the east coast or the west coast of the US. If you fly from the east coast there will be a 5 hour time difference as the UK is 5 hours ahead of, for example, New York. If, however, you are flying from the west coast, then there is an 8 hour time difference as the UK is 8 hours ahead of, say, Los Angeles.
How long does jet lag last from USA to UK? The usual rule of thumb is that it takes the average person 1 day to get over every 1-2 hours of time change. So from the east coast it should take roughly 3 days to recover from jet lag before your body feels in sync with the UK clock. From the west coast it could take 4-5 days before you feel completely normal.
Traveling east is always worse for experiencing jet lag than traveling west. This is because the body clock adapts easier to experiencing longer days, such as when you fly from the UK to New York, than it does to shorter days, as it does when flying from New York to the UK.
So when you fly back home from the UK you should feel better sooner.
How to reduce jet lag flying from the US to the UK
There are ways to try and minimize the effects of jet lag. The first suggestion is specific to flying from the US to the UK (or Europe):
Book an earlier flight
Most flights from the USA and Canada to the UK leave in the evening. They fly overnight and arrive early in the morning. This means you lose a night’s sleep and have to survive the whole day (if you can) before going to bed. This can extend the effect of jet lag and therefore take longer to get over it.
There are some flights which leave the USA in the morning so you arrive in the evening UK time. If you can book one of these it will definitely help. You will get over jet lag quicker and you won’t feel like death by missing a night’s sleep either.
Adjust your watch
As soon as you get on the aircraft make sure you adjust your watch and/or smartphone to the time in the UK.
If you aren’t sure what time it is in the UK ask one of the flight attendants who will know.
Doing this will help to get your body used to the new time as soon as possible. Also try to stop think “what time is it back home?” which won’t help either.
Don’t drink alcohol
This often isn’t a very popular suggestion for some people. One of drawbacks to drinking alcohol is that it has the effect of dehydrating you. Being dehydrated will make you feel more tired and will effect your ability to deal with the time changes. It goes without saying that drinking too much will have an even bigger effect. Having a hangover never makes you feel better.
Caffeine is a stimulant so it can have an effect on how your body adapts to different sleep patterns.
On a flight I have leaned through experience not to drink alcohol, tea, cola or anything that contains caffeine. I generally only drink water and the occasional fruit juice which I have found makes me cope with jet lag better.
By this I don’t mean eat at a restaurant close to your hotel. Neither do I mean eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (although you can if you want).
What I mean is eat the meal that is appropriate to the time in the UK.
So if the clock says 1pm (lunchtime) but your body says it is 8am, so it feels like breakfast time to you, don’t eat breakfast but lunch!
Try to take it easy
It is very tempting when you arrive in London, perhaps for the first time, to get out and see as many of the sights as you can on the first day. Instead, try to avoid over doing it. Try to have at least one relaxing day to give your body a chance to recover, not just from the jet lag, but also from being cooped up in a small seat in an aluminum tube for 8 hours or so.
Light therapy for jet lag
I have recently started using these and I am finding them very effective to use both before and after a long flight to help reduce jet lag. You can read more about them here – Re-timer light therapy glasses
Many people find that using Melatonin helps to get your body’s rhythm back to normal quickly. Melatonin is the substance that you body produces to tell the body it is time to sleep. You can buy Melatonin tablets and Melatonin patches which are quite inexpensive so give them a try.
You can read the this article from the British Medical Journal called “Alleviation of jet lag by melatonin: preliminary results of controlled double blind trial.“
The National Sleep Foundation have an interesting article on Jet Lag and Sleep which is worth reading.
Hopefully this article “How long does jet lag last from USA to UK” has been useful.
I go into ways to reduce and relieve jet lag in this article – How to prevent jet lag – my top tips that actually work. Also How to get over jet lag when you get home and What does jet lag mean?