Current situation: half sitting/half lying on my desk…
Eyes desperately trying to shut, brain fizzy, caffeine having absolutely zero effect. I have a bad case of jet-lag, as do my 3 kids, for whom 4am Dubai time is now the acceptable time to rise-and-shine (help me). We’ve been back from Indonesia for almost a week and I have to say, this is the worst jet lag EVER – even with only a 4 hour time difference (I honestly think that traveling Westwards and trying to adjust this way round, to a time zone behind the one that you’ve become used to is much harder than settling into a few hours ahead – do you agree!?). I’ve tried keeping the children up until 9pm local time but this just doesn’t work (why is it that a later bedtime never results in a later wake-up!?), so in an attempt to fix the situation, save my sanity and the neighbours a chorus of squealing kids before sunrise, I’ve done a little research on how best to readjust. So, wherever in the world you are, here are the tips that have resonated most with me – and please feel free to share yours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Here goes…(and here’s to some sleep soon!)
Catch Some Rays
Possibly the best tip I’ve come across (because it doesn’t involve moving your entire family’s body clock gradually by an hour a day for a week – seriously – who has time for that!?). The idea here is that you need to get the kids (and you) out in daylight between the hours of 2 and 5 so that your bodies and brains can understand that it’s not the time to sleep! Pretty easy here in Dubai, or not actually as it’s so hot that being outdoors for 3 minutes, let alone 3 hours, will melt you – I’ve been driving mine to the supermarket and back, going out in the garden to ‘check out that funny creature I just saw’ (oh the stories I have to make up…) and keeping them away from darkened rooms and tv screens at this time of the day.
Plan your sleep
If only it were that simple – planning sleep when you’re a parent without jet lag can be difficult enough! Apparently, you and the kids should remain awake until bedtime in the country you’re adjusting to. I have to say that I disagree with this – and a quick 1 or 2-hour power nap during the day seems to get them sleeping better at night (sleep breeds sleep and all that). Obviously, you’ll have a better chance of keeping them awake longer which, in theory, should help them sleep later (hmmm).
Massage and essential oils
My children aren’t amazing sleepers – never have been – but there was that one time, after a massage, that they managed a full 12 hours. I’m convinced that massage helps promote deep sleep (well it definitely works for me anyway!) and that a lovely long bath with lavender oil and dim lighting and a calm environment will get them into that sleepy zone (if you can achieve it, bath time in my house is more like a visit to splash n party). So bust out the oils, light a few candles (yes and don’t leave the littles unattended with them…), slather them in massage oil or even book them in somewhere, Anantara, The Palm Dubai now offers massages for kids and most of the ‘at home’ spa services do too.
The use of Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your daily sleep-wake cycle (typically melatonin levels start to rise in the mid to late evening after the sun has set and then drop early morning as the sun rises and you’re ready to wake). Taking melatonin can help decrease the effects of jet lag but be sure to speak to your pediatrician if you’re planning on giving it to the kids!
Keep bedrooms as dark as possible
Again –easy here in Dubai where the sun sets at a decent time and doesn’t rise until after 5am but we’re going to Europe soon where it remains light until well after my own bedtime and then gets light again at a crazy early time! I’ve invested in portable black-out blinds (Gro-Anywhere Blackout Blinds, available on Amazon) but tin-foil on the windows works just as well!
And lastly sedatives. Just kidding… GOOD LUCK MAMAS!