Save Your Vacation With These Top Jet Lag Tips For Little Ones

4 mins

Get the most out of your family vacation by following these simple jet lag tips from sleep consultants Savvy Sleep, for a smooth mood-free getaway

Have you ever witnessed the excitement in a little child’s eyes as they get on on a plane? The anticipation of being up in the sky headed to new sights, sounds, and experiences is palpable. Yet, jet lag can easily cast a shadow over their innocent enthusiasm, and your long anticipated vacation.

When you’re traveling with young children who are already challenged by change, even a two to three hour time difference can put a spanner in your holiday works, let alone an international trip through various time zones.

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That’s because, for young kids aged between 2 to 5, time-zone changes can cause sleep regressions and for those who are sleeping through the night, it could signal a return to waking up at intervals again. Older kids may have a similar experience to adults but unable to cope with it in the same way, are left feeling tired, disoriented, and gloriously cranky.

Usually, recovery from jet lag takes one day for every hour of time zone change, therefore long haul travel can potentially disrupt sleep for a few days – or more – until bodies adjust.

So, with summer travels just around the corner for many in the UAE, The Ethicalist spoke to paediatric sleep specialists Isabel Page and Sara Nanetti of Dubai based sleep consultancy, Savvy Sleep, and asked them to share their expert tips on navigating travel with little ones.

Adjust schedules before the trip

If the time difference is not too big, adjust your child’s sleep schedule in the days leading up to the trip to match the time zone of your destination. So, if you’re headed to the UK for the summer – with a 3 hour time difference – try putting the kids to bed an hour early in the lead up to the trip. This can help ease the transition and minimise the effects of jet lag.

Stay hydrated

Airplane cabins, which have cool, dry, low-pressure air, can cause dehydration. As dehydration can worsen the symptoms of jet lag, make sure your child drinks plenty of water during the flight and throughout the trip to replenish fluids.

Get in the sun!

As light acts to delay your body’s release of melatonin – which helps to promote sleep – exposure to sunlight can help reset your child’s internal clock and regulate their sleep-wake cycle. Encourage your child to spend time outside during daylight hours to help them adjust to the new time zone.

Young mother applying protective sunscreen on daughter nose at beach as a tip for beating kids jet lag

Stick to a routine

Try to maintain your usual routine as much as possible, including mealtimes, naptimes, and bedtime. This can help your child’s body adjust to the new time zone and reduce the effects of jet lag.

Use natural remedies

Some natural remedies, such as melatonin or chamomile tea, may help your child sleep better. It’s always advised to try any medication before travel to make sure there are no side effects as some children may have their sleep disrupted rather than helped by melatonin! However, always consult with your paediatrician before giving any medication or natural remedy to your child.

Consider gradual adjustments

If you are traveling across multiple time zones, consider gradually adjusting your child’s sleep schedule by an hour or two each day until you reach your destination. This can help minimise the effects of jet lag and make the transition smoother for your child. 

Be patient

Jet lag can take several days to resolve, so be patient and flexible with your child’s schedule. Allow them time to adjust to the new time zone and try not to over-schedule activities during the first few days of your trip.

Savvy Sleep was founded by Isabel Page, Psychologist, Certified Sleep Consultant, and Newborn Care Specialist 3 years ago, she was later joined by Sara Nanetti, Certified Sleep Specialist, and Dunstan Baby Language Educator to help more families in the region get the restful and rejuvenating sleep they deserve!

You can visit their the savvy sleep website or follow them on their socials @savvy.sleep

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