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With the school holidays well underway, it is now the time of year when many families are going to be jetting off to exotic locations and spending long days playing in the sun. The longer daylight hours can often result in later bedtimes and disrupted sleep patterns throughout the school holidays; pair this with a long-haul holiday and the jet lag can be brutal. For many parents and children, the summer holidays are a great time to relax and make the most of the extra daylight. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, a disrupted bedtime throughout summer can throw off the circadian rhythm and lead to children having little sleep and becoming cranky.
Jet lag can be tough for everyone, adults included, but for children, it is even worse. Adults can push through the tiredness and adjust a lot quicker as we are aware of the need to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible. For toddlers, they have no understanding of the new time zone or why it is important to push through the fatigue in order to enjoy the holiday.
Here are some tips and tricks you can use to help your toddler beat jet lag:
There are a few things you can do ahead of your holiday to help your toddler adjust to the new time zone. If you really put your mind to it, you can get a head start on the jet lag by adjusting their bedtime the week before. By slowly changing their bedtime by half an hour every couple of nights, earlier or later depending on where you are travelling, you can help them to adjust better when you do go away. Another tip for pre-holiday is to get them used to their travel cot if this is where they are going to be sleeping, as the first night or two in a new environment are always hard when it comes to sleeping.
Generally, if you’re going to a destination where jet lag is going to be a concern, you’ll be travelling on a long-haul flight. Although a long flight can be daunting it could actually be the perfect opportunity to offset any potential jet lag. Many families choose to travel overnight as this means children can sleep throughout the flight and wake up to start a new day in the new time zone. If you’re travelling on a day flight, it is best to try and get your children to sleep on the flight if they are going to have to stay awake for longer when you land.
One of the first steps in adjusting to the new time zone is to stop recalculating the time in your head, it is best to completely forget the time zone you’ve come from. Make sure you act completely as you should in the new time zone, for example eating at the right time. Having naps on the first day may be unavoidable so let it happen if it needs to; just make sure to set an alarm so that it doesn’t turn into an 8-hour sleep.
Lastly, a good tip for encouraging sleep on holiday is to bring some home comforts such as pillows and blankets. This can be comforting for your little one when they are in a new environment.