Jet lag – The bane of a traveller’s existence. Most of us only think about sleep when we hear the words, but there is more to jet lag than just a lack of, or too much, sleep.
Jet lag is what happens when you travel rapidly across time zones. It tends to be worse when a person travels west as compared to the east. It’s a physiological condition that has affects the body’s circadian rhythms. In other words, it messes up our internal clocks.
Everyone knows that jet lag affects sleep, but there are other symptoms as well. These include slight confusion, appetite loss, headaches, constipation or diarrhoea, and irritability. Consider a child in this situation, it doesn’t matter if they’re six years old or a small infant.
Usually, a child has their days and nights in the order from the time they’re eight weeks old. They have regular nap and bedtimes. After they begin sleeping through the night, they sleep for 10 or more hours straight.
Imagine how confusing jet lag is for them, particularly if they only sleep for four hours on a night flight to arrive at a destination at 7 am? Jet lag can last for one day for every hour of time difference. For instance, a time difference of six hours translates into six days of jet lag. The following are some tips for relieving the symptoms and dealing with jet lag, particularly where children are concerned.
Make sure your child drinks plenty of milk or water during the flight. This will help to keep him or her hydrated. It could mean making several bathroom trips, but at least that will keep them busy for part of the trip.
A loss of appetite resulting from jet lag will interfere with your child’s meal times for the first couple of days. To help combat this, bring a few of their favourite snacks and have them eat small portions often.
Do your best to balance the snacks so your kids get full without wreaking havoc on their digestion system, resulting in constipation or diarrhoea. Get them to eat as much as possible before going to bed to decrease their body’s need to wake up extra early for breakfast.
Early Morning Wakeups
If your child wakes up at an early morning hour like 22 am don’t allow him or her to wander out of their room. Instead, turn a dim light on and have them engage in some quiet activities in their room, such as reading a book or putting a puzzle together.
The object is to get him or her back in bed within an hour. If they’ve only slept for six to eight hours, it’s likely he or she will be sleepy within an hour.
Make their environment as close to their home environment as possible. Use aluminium foil in place of blackout blinds. Cushions or pool noodles can take the place of bed frames. Also, be certain that the room temperature is the same as their room back home.
Remember Their Favorite Sleep Toy
Most kids have a favourite blanket or stuffed animal they like to sleep with. Some might even possess a favourite pair of pyjamas. Whatever the must-haves are for your kids, be sure to pack them. It’s important for your kids to be as comfortable as possible while away from home. This usually helps them to sleep better at night.
Time Difference of One or Two Hours
Taking a quick trip with your infant is great but determining how a time difference of an hour or two will affect your baby isn’t easy. If your trip isn’t very long, you can keep your baby on his or her usual time zone, especially if you’re only travelling to a time zone or two away.
For instance, if your infant normally sleeps from 8 pm to 8 am, and you travel two time zones from Michigan to Wyoming, your child could sleep from 6 pm to 6 am during the trip, allowing you to go immediately back to usual times when you get back home.
Time Difference of Three Hours Going West
Children need one day of adjustment for every time zone they cross. If you are travelling west, like Michigan to Nevada, your baby will likely be ready for bed three hours earlier than usual. Hence, for a smoother transition, set your infant’s bedtime later for a few days prior to leaving.
Time Difference of Three Hours Going East
If you are going to be travelling east, like Nevada to Michigan, your infant will probably be ready for bed three hours later than usual. If your baby is usually put to bed at 8 pm, he or she will probably be ready to sleep around 11 pm. Therefore, when travelling east, put your baby to bed a half hour earlier than usual, and wake him or her up at the usual time the next day for a few days before your trip.
Time Difference of Four to Eight Hours
If you are crossing several time zones for international travel, it will take about a week for your child to adjust. Be sure to plan the busiest parts of your vacation near the end if possible as the first few days will be the hardest on them — and you as well. During your vacation, and after you return, don’t allow extended nap periods. Children often make up for jet lag with longer naps but that only prolongs the adjustment period.
Time Difference of Ten to Twelve Hours
There isn’t much difference between preparing for a 12-hour trip an eight hour one. Do your best to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible. Also, be aware of light exposure. Change your mealtimes immediately because your body’s internal sleep clock usually follows. Move in accordance with the local time zone immediately upon arrival. Go outside often so your infant is exposed to sunlight, which helps to reset their circadian rhythms. At nap or bedtime, make sure their room is dark.