Surviving eastbound jetlag with toddler .. Any ideas?

This is the first time for us traveling all together east bridging an eight hour time difference, and from my own experience (and according to some websites), eastbound travel screws more with your internal time system then westbound. Why? To adjust westward you have to force yourself to stay up longer the first few nights, which is easier than forcing yourself to go to bed while your internal clock still says it is early in the afternoon, which is what you have to do when flying east.

While you might be possible to do this as an adult, try to get this into a terrible two toddler who does not listen very well to begin with.

We are having quite a hard time to get Julius to adjust and this is not helping our own transition either. We are following common sense guidelines like lots of sunlight and fresh air, trying to keep him awake during the day as much as possible so that he would finally sleep longer at night.

So far it has not been very successful, we managed to keep him up until noon yesterday (After he had been up since 3 AM) but then even after 3 sleep cycles (=4.5h) it was hard to wake him up. Then we kept him up again until 10:30 PM (He totally crashed in my arms), hoping he would sleep longer … But no .. 3 AM again and he is totally awake, wants to play and screams if he does not get his way (which is not a good thing in an old style ryokan where the walls are not that soundproof) … So, to not totally wake up everyone we have to let him.

And so the cycle continues .. He will wants to sleep a lot during the day again and tomorrow night the same dilemma … I am seriously concerning if there are any mild sleeping aids for kids in this case …

Looking forward to any other ideas

[update 7:37 AM]: Sure enough, the little guy was not to be convinced to return to bed … Until after our 6 AM bath, at 7:35 AM .. I was folding laundry … And when I looked at him again .. I found this:

So, he got another hour of sleep and then we went to breakfast with a very sleepy, grumpy kid. At least he liked the grilled salmon and ate both our portions. Somehow he is not touching rice these days .. Maybe the furikake is not the kind he likes.

[update 8:32 PM]: Today’s sleep patterns were even more mixed up as we were on the road again. He slept one hour from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM … we had to wake him up for breakfast. Then he slept half an hour on the bus from 11:20 AM on … it took us until 3 PM to reach our hotel in Ginza, and while he looked sleepy, he did not fall asleep again.

Then the Japanese grandparents came to visit and that was of course way more interesting than sleeping … we had hopes that we can keep him up until a more decent sleeptime .. but alas, he crashed at 5:30 PM, just when we were deciding what we should do about dinner … We tried to wake him up again at 7PM .. but no chance .. do .. he has been sleeping for 3 hours now and I am curious when he will wake (us) up tomorrow morning…

Here a picture of us 3 sleep deprived zombies at dinner (nice Japanese isakaya style food, yum)

I think this is going to be my first new years eve since early childhood that I am just going to sleep through .. Good night !

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7 Responses to Surviving eastbound jetlag with toddler .. Any ideas?

  1. dr Dave says:

    Considered Melatonin? It’s really harmless as far as affecting your or a toddler’s metabolism, but usually helps quite a lot in adapting to new sleeping schedules in a short span…

  2. Peter says:

    Thanks Dr Dave … have you been able to find melatonin in Japan? We just checked 2 pharmacies and both were a bit puzzled about it … one called some ‘expert’ and came back with the answer that it was very uncommon in Japan .. strange … seems I have to give Julius some chu-hi instead :) Happy New Year !!

  3. jaelithe says:

    Wow. Whenever I think I am having kid problems, I look here and you are always facing a bigger challenge! Isaac has been having a really hard time adjusting to sleeping in the new house (it’s funny, because he is usually okay sleeping on vacation at relatives’ houses and such, but I guess it has dawned on him that this is a permanent change and so it is freaking him out) and he has been staying up until midnight or so most nights, and then still waking up at six or seven in the morning and being cranky all the next day. But this sounds much more difficult!

    I have heard that a lot of parents here in the states will give their kids Children’s Benadryl (the anti-allergy medicine) when they go on long flights, because one of the main side effects of the drug is drowsiness. Of course, one of the other main side effects of the drug is excitability. I guess it depends on the kid which effect you might get. But it may be worth the gamble!

  4. Rose says:

    Peter:
    We used Children’s Benadryl when we traveled to Europe. Worked like a charm. You have to test it beforehand b/c on some kids it has the opposite effect and makes them hyper. We gave much less than the recommended doseage, and it just helped Astrid to fall asleep. With a bath, warm milk and a good book…it should help Julius to get back into his rhythm.

  5. dr Dave says:

    [better late than never]
    Nacken… Nope, never tried finding it in Japan (though I’m rather confident it’s legal and over-the-counter there)… Have you tried something as simple as Don Qixote or other big parapharmaceutical stores? Anyway, one more reason to stash some, next time you go by the US :)
    (Chu-hi prolly works too)

  6. Kate says:

    Id be interested to know how you overcame this. We are going through this now with a two year old after traveling from australia to the US.

  7. Peter says:

    Dear Kate, the answer is Melatonin! read our experience here http://nacken.com/blog/?p=2671 It worked great!

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