This post was written in association with Room To Grow
Jet lag is an oh so familiar feeling for many of us, but when it comes to children, helping them adjust to a new time zone can be tough. For many, family holidays are an annual occurrence and a time that everyone looks forward to. Your dream destinations will determine whether a short or long-haul flight is on the cards. Crossing more time zones will cause symptoms of jet lag, such as trouble sleeping and low-quality sleep, to persist longer than only crossing the one zone. While every child is different and so are the timings of every trip, the rule of thumb is that it takes one day to adjust for every time zone crossed.
If you’re not willing to give up on family holidays, while there is no way to ensure you and your children avoid jet lag completely, here are five top tips to help reduce its effects and duration:
Gradually adjust your family’s bedtime
If you can, start shifting your children’s bedtime closer to the schedule of your destination roughly one week before travelling. Whether your children sleep in separate rooms or share a room and sleep in one of the many children’s bunk beds from Room to Grow, encouraging them to get to bed earlier by bringing their relaxing bedtime routine forward will be a huge help. This will mean they wake up earlier, so it’s wise to make the adjustments to your own bedtime, wake times and mealtimes, as well.
Ideally, take a flight that will land in the late afternoon
After hours in the air, it’s unlikely that you will arrive with a lot of energy for exploring, so a flight that lands as the day comes to an end is ideal. That way, you can check into your hotel, relax, go for dinner and then retreat to bed, for a long night’s sleep ready for the day ahead.
Eat like a local
When on holiday, it’s common to immerse yourself in the country’s culture and enjoy the local cuisine. As well as eating the food typical of locals, make sure you eat meals at the correct time, too; if the clock is showing it’s breakfast time, then eat breakfast foods. Not adjusting mealtimes will slow down the time it takes to acclimatise to the new time zone, as food is a useful cue for informing your internal clock the time that it should be. It’s also worth noting that while little ones may wake in the middle of the night for a small snack, this should only happen on the first couple of days while they’re adjusting.
Take the first couple of days easy
It’s likely you and the kids will feel a little tired the first few days, so take it easy. Instead of hitting the ground running and scheduling action packed days from the offset, take the time to relax on the first few days, and save the more adventurous plans for later on in the trip.
Get plenty of fresh air and sunlight
Fresh air, vitamin D and light are exercise are great for minimising the effects of jetlag with kids, so get up at a reasonable time in the morning and head outside after breakfast, whether to the beach, the pool or even for a light walk. Even if you’re feeling sleepy, the fresh air and daylight will work wonders in helping your body to adjust and wake you up.