How can I help my child handle jet lag?

Taking the time to plan ahead can make a huge difference in how well your children handle the travel itself and adapt to time zone changes when you arrive. Smart preparation begins before your bags are packed:
  • Book reasonably. That off-hours, overnight flight to your destination may save you a bit of money, but it may not be worth it if your family is too tired and irritable to enjoy your time once you arrive. A good rule to go by when factoring jet lag into your planning is that it takes the body one day to adjust for every one to two time zones you cross. Designing a travel schedule that minimizes delays and avoids overnight flights can help reduce the impact of jet lag, especially with kids in tow.
  • Bank sleep. The best strategy starts a few weeks ahead of your actual travel. Of course, making sure your child is getting plenty of sleep should always be a top priority. But in the weeks leading up to a trip, it’s even more important that your kids get ample rest. Go back to basics: Stick closely to schedules for meals and homework in the evenings, make sure bedtime and wake times are consistent, turn off the TV and electronics (and especially for older kids, the smartphones and computers) in the hour immediately before bed. I call it the electronic curfew!
  • Adjust bedtimes in advance. Use the week before you plan to travel to begin to shift your child’s schedule toward the time zone where you’ll be going. Now, I’m not talking about keeping kids up late into the night or waking them before dawn! But adjusting bedtimes 15 or 30 minutes (earlier or later, depending on where you are traveling) can give your kids a head start on the adjustment they’ll need to make during the trip.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.