Winter is upon us and some may be thinking and preparing for a vacation which has you travelling and sleeping in a different time zone. Whether you are travelling east or west, be prepared to be flexible on your travel day.
Travelling West – waking up and going to sleep earlier than usual
- Push sleep time – Depending on how many time zones you are travelling across, try to keep your child awake until the normal bedtime. If you are travelling across 2 or 3 time zones this will not happen overnight and will likely take a few nights to adjust. Your child will awaken earlier than usual as they are adjusting.
- Stay on routine – Try to stick to your nap and bedtime schedule as much as possible. They will likely show “sleepy signs” earlier than usual. Try to push the sleep time by a maximum of 30 minutes a day, taking a few days to adjust.
- Natural light – Expose your child to natural light at times that they are supposed to be awake. Having exposure first thing in the morning help sets the hormones produced throughout the day.
- Prepare for the change – You can begin with moving your child’s nap and bedtime a little later by 15-30 minutes beginning a few days before you travel and help adapt sooner to the new time zone once you arrive.
Travelling East – waking up and going to sleep later than usual
- Strong routine – You may find that your child is not ready to sleep until a little later the first few days. Having a solid routine where the sleep cues are very obvious for your little one will help to move the bedtime up 15-30 minutes per sleep time. The consistent routine is a cue for the body to sleep.
- Wake time – wake your child up at the normal time you would in the morning to get their body adjusted to the time that they should be awake and avoid letting them sleep in as much as possible. This is where the exposure to natural light upon waking will be beneficial to help adjust their biological clock and circadian rhythms to match the time zone.
- Prepare for the change – Make bedtime a little earlier a few days before you travel to prepare for the time change. This will help to adjust to the new time.
If your trip is only for a few days, you shouldn’t really need to worry very much. Consistency of your regular routine will help keep things on track. Where ever you vacation, know that your child will adjust to the new time zone. Stick to your routine as much as possible and be flexible where necessary. Know your child will adjust back when you return home.
My next post will be about tips for sharing a room while on vacation!