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Managing Time Difference and Jet Lag

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At this time of year, so many of us are jetting off on holiday.  I understand that travelling abroad with children can be both exciting and challenging, especially when dealing with time differences and jet lag. Jet lag occurs when our body’s internal clock is disrupted due to crossing multiple time zones, leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue. For parents planning a family adventure overseas, it’s essential to take steps to ensure a smoother transition and minimise the impact of jet lag on your little ones. In this blog, I will share some tips to help you manage time differences and jet lag so you can make the most of your trip, while keeping your children well-rested and happy.

Follow the New Schedule Immediately

Upon arrival at your destination, align your family’s schedule with the local time zone as soon as possible. Avoid giving into the temptation of naps or extended rest periods immediately after landing, as this can prolong the adjustment process. Expose your children to natural light during the day and engage them in activities to help them stay awake until the local bedtime.

Create Relaxing Sleep Routines

A consistent bedtime routine can be reassuring for children in an unfamiliar environment. Prioritise their bedtime routine, even when travelling, as it can signal to their body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Activities like reading a book, dimming the lights, and cuddling can help create a soothing atmosphere, promoting relaxation and better sleep. Look at The Lullaby Trust for their safer sleep tips when away from home.

Participating in holidays and outings together may lead to naps being taken outside of the usual cot and dark environment. It’s important to know that occasional naps while on the go won’t negatively impact your child’s sleep abilities. However, it’s advisable to be cautious about relying too much on car or pram naps, as the motion might become a habit for your little one. To prevent this, prioritise having the majority of naps in their cot. Additionally, try to avoid scheduling two or more consecutive “on-the-go” nap days. Naps taken in their cot could also provide you with a chance to enjoy some sunlight or even have a brief rest yourself.

Ensure Comfortable Sleeping Conditions

Make your child’s sleep environment as comfortable as possible. Pack familiar items like their favourite blanket, stuffed animal, or bedtime storybook to provide a sense of familiarity. Consider taking a blackout blind with you to minimise the impact of external light, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Use a Snooze Shade for those “on the go” naps, to block out sunlight when on the go.

Adjusting to a new time zone can take time, and each child is different. Be patient and understanding as they adapt to the changes. Expect some temporary sleep disturbances during the first few days and remain flexible with your plans to accommodate their needs.

On Your Return

On your return gradually adjust bedtime back to what it should be. Adjust by 30 mins over a few days. Return to your normal daily routines and ensure you spend some time outside. Spending time outside will help your child’s body get natural light during the day to help their bodies adjust.

Travelling abroad with children can be a wonderful experience filled with new adventures and lasting memories. By preparing for the time difference and jet lag, you can ensure a smoother transition for your little ones, allowing them to make the most of the trip while getting the rest they need. Remember to stick to the local schedule upon arrival, create a soothing bedtime routine, and provide a comfortable sleeping environment. Be patient, flexible, and above all, enjoy the journey together as a family.

Safe travels and sweet dreams!

If you have any questions regarding your children’s sleep, book a free 15-minute call. I would love to chat with you.

This blog was written for The Youngs, check out their Instagram account.

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