Becoming a new parent is an exciting and exhausting time in any person’s life, and even though it’s filled with all your child’s joyful first experiences, it can also be filled with anxiety. Now add to that anxiety a 12-hour international flight, a child who understands little English, the fact you’ve been living in another part of the world for a couple of weeks, and that you can’t sleep because of jet lag. It can be absolutely overwhelming! Overwhelming may even be an understatement. So, to help our new parents we’ve come up with three tips that will help you and your new family adjust to the time zone and finally get some sleep!
Set and follow a sleeping schedule that matches the time zone of your destination
Jet lag is caused when our body’s biological clock (aka “circadian rhythm”) is not in sync with the time zone we are in. Getting up and going to bed earlier can help you and your child beat jet lag before even stepping on the plane. I can hear you saying, “Wait a minute! We’ve already gotten on the plane and made it home! What do we do now?” Make a sleeping schedule! Planning when you and your child will go to bed at night, get up in the morning, and take naps will still help your bodies adjust more quickly.
Go outside and play
Our body’s circadian rhythm is influenced by the amount of daylight to which we are exposed. Getting as much sunlight as possible during the day and blacking out the windows at night will naturally signal your bodies when it is time to sleep. Also, some light physical exercise like a game of tag in the front yard or a walk in the park will not only give you the opportunity to bond with your child, but also ensure that you’re tired when bedtime comes around. Just be sure not to overdo it and avoid any heavy exercise just before bed.
Realize that you both need time to adapt
Your body’s circadian rhythm will take at least four to five nights before it begins to correct itself. Try to keep this in mind as you begin your new life with your child. Consider taking off work and politely asking relatives to give you space for the first week so your family can adjust.
The most important thing to remember is that this is a special time for your family, and you should try to enjoy every moment that you can. It takes time, and jet lag is only a temporary setback. We hope that these tips help you and your new family as you begin your life together.