Jet lag is your body wanting to sleep or wake up at odd times for your destination.
When you’re travelling to a destination that’s more than 3 hours different from home, you’re bound to suffer a bit of jet lag. Sleep experts have said that it takes one day for every hour of time difference to adjust, but everyone is different and kids are no exception. Jet lag is usually worse when flying West to East – Hong Kong to Canada since your body finds it harder to deal with the shorter day. But jet lag doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. If you're planning a vacation to Europe or Hawai'i, here are a few tips to help tame jet lag when travelling:
1. Act as if you are already there.
A few days before you leave, start moving your bedtime 15 minutes towards your destination’s time zone. Once you’re on the plane, adjust your watch to the new local time and behave as if you’re already there; sleep if it’s nighttime, play some games or read if it’s still daytime.
2. Get outside.
Stay active outside – find a park, go to the beach or even just walk around your new neighbourhood. Anything that keeps you busy will help you stay awake. And experts agree that natural day light helps reset your internal clock.
3. Stick with your routine.
Try to keep your vacation bedtime routine similar to your bedtime routine at home. Have a bath, read a book, put on some comfy clothes. These cues help your transition to sleep just like they would back home.
4. Make it dark.
When it is time to go to bed, have the bedrooms as dark as possible. This not only helps you fall asleep but it also helps with the inevitable middle of the night wake ups that will happen until you’ve adjusted to the new time. Not all hotels or condos have blackout curtains, so good old tinfoil will do the trick! Sleep masks work great for adults.
Not only does jet lag cause confusion about when to sleep, it also confuses our appetite. Have larger meals on your flight and for the first day or two after you arrive. A snack before bed may also help with midnight wakings.
6. Embrace it.
If jet lag is going to be a factor in your travels, plan to spend a day or two at your arrival destination. Relax and enjoy a low key day for your first vacation day; avoid a long drive or train trip where you may be tempted to have a nap! The same goes for the return home; try to have a recovery day if you can work it into your travel plans.