August 20, 2005

Um, About This Baby Jet Lag?

Seriously, kid, you need to sleep.

It's been three nights since we got back to the East Coast from Japan, and the kid has not moved her sleep schedule hardly at all. What gives?

Flying from the US to Japan, she adjusted by the book: sleeping 6, then 7, then 8 hours each of the first three nights. But coming back, she's still all whack. She'll take one nap in the mid-afternoon, and we've been putting her to bed late (until 12, then 11, then 10:30), but invariably, she wakes up after a 2-hour "nap," ready to start the day, and doesn't sleep for up to three grueling hours.

Meanwhile, we're starting to adjust, our bodies are trying to adjust, and of course, we're up with the kid all night, or trying to coax her back to sleep in our bed, from the floor of her room, wherever.

My wife looked "baby jet lag" up on Google, and Daddytypes was one of the top search results. Which makes me want to sell the Google stock because--Earth to Google--we don't know what the hell's going on.

So I'm asking all you Asians, bananas and eggs included, what's the deal? If I'm cranky and skeptical of suggestions that start, "we went to England and..." apologies in advance; it's just my lack of sleep.

10 Comments

I remember getting back from the Philippines with my 2 yr old nephew.... we were both up after our 2-hr "nap" eating maraschino cherries at 3 am and watching tv. Try re-setting the kid's clock with midday sun exposure. I mean, aren't you all jet lagged? You can't expect the kid to adjust before you do. Good luck!

I used to be a researcher at a circadian rhythms laboratory, where we intentionally gave people jet lag. Michelle's right: mid-day light exposure (at sun or sun-like intensity) is theoretically the way to go to reset anyone's rhythm to the right clock... though I can't say it's worked for our 2.5 month-old pumpkin. For the same reason (and for your own sanity) that's probably why, for middle-of-the-night awakenings, the light should stay off (or dimmed).

That's exactly what I googled last week and came upon DT. not much out there on baby jet lag. we're headed to Seoul for 2wks from NY with our 6 month old next week. my family's told me to take night flights so they sleep on the plane, but no insight on how to get them back to local time. i hope you get some good answers or at least share how you got on track again. in the meantime, hang in there!

in order:
- our own adjustment's going normally, except, of course, that we're not sleeping in the day OR the night at the moment. The kid doesn't seem to be moving at all.
- we pad around in the dark with barely a computer monitor to light the way.
- right now (1130pm) we're about to put the kid to bed, finally, in the hope that she'll at least sleep straight through for some block of time. She had a short nap around 7-8. We'll see.

we just had a breakthrough in group. the kid slept from 12-8. Of course, she's still a bit of a mess, but I think we're over the hump.

We just came back from a month of visiting my family in Canada with our 6 month old. We put her down around her old bedtime (around 7:30). She'll sleep for 20-30 minutes and wake up again. Getting her back to sleep takes ages even via nursing, and when all fails (ie the last three nights)she's up until midnight. Then mom can't leave her side, or she'll wake up often. Otherwise she'll sleep until morning when mom is laying beside her.

My wife, our one-year-old daughter and I have just returned to Puerto Rico from a two-week New Zealand vacation. We tried to get Savy back into her regular nighttime "3B" schedule (bath, book and the breast) in the hopes of getting her fast to sleep following our 35 hours of flying and 17-hour time difference. It's 1:40 am and the wee one is up, giggling and playing in the living room while Mama and Papa try to get her spooled down. Every time we put her in the crib, she screams blue murder and cries nonstop. Since we're in a condo, we have to take our neighbors into consideration and remove her to quiet her down... I'm going to try the mid-day sun idea to reset all of our internal clocks---I'll keep you posted on if this helps.

Ok, two weeks after our return from New Zealand, Savy's sleep schedule has slowly returned to "normal". She still gets up occasionally but she's much easier to get back to sleep. As for the mid-day sun resetting my body's clock...man, I was too darn tired to make it to noon. 14 days after returning to Eastern time, I feel like I'm stuck in a timezone in Africa... At least I have my boss to keep me awake!

We flew from Holland to Japan (8 hours later) with our 5 months old son. He is totally confused. Sleeps in the afternoon, wakes up at night. When I say sleep, I mean SLEEP, in capital letters. We tried to wake him up after 2 hours to play with him, so that he wouldn`t sleep too long. But after many gentle pushes and calling his name he just opens his eyes a little bit, gazing at you like he wants to say "what did you wake me up for dude???" and falls right back to sleep...

At night, he sleeps a couple of hours and then wakes up and cries so long until he is picked up. We can only get him back to sleep by putting him in bed with us, offering him the titty whenever he wants to. Especially my wife finds this difficult, afraid to roll over him at night, she never falls into the good, deep sleep she needs.

I know I don`t have the answer, I am also googling for it actually, but I just wanted to share my (our) experience...

We grown ups can "deal" with jetlag by forcing ourselves to stay awake during the day, with or without some help from the good old black gold, and go to sleep early... Infants just sleep, when they get sleepy. So it takes time, maybe up to 2 weeks. Not much you can do about it. Exposure to the sunlight doesn`t work either. He sleeps right through it!!!

Good luck to everybody who has to deal with it as well...

Oh, since it is easier to travel from east to west than vice versa, you might want to concider a vacation WEST from you, if possible. It is probably easier for you to deal with this jet lag when you are back at home... For us, it is a visit to our family (the in-laws) so not much choice...

I know this is almost 5 years later but I had to reply. We just got back to Minneapolis from a 3 week trip to Japan and it's exactly one week today.

Just like DT says, our 1yr 3mo baby is getting to sleep around 12 maybe 2 in the morning. We initially tried to go from 11, to 10, to 8 back to her normal sleep time but her sleeps in the evening have been like afternoon naps - shorter and not as deep. So she wakes up and doesn't really go to sleep until after 4 am.

She was suffering from both lack of sleep and being hungry. Bad combo.

She's was very clingy.

She was also eating less.

Basically, when traveling, baby loses her structure and familiar surroundings. Add to that the whack sleep schedule.

To get over the hump quicker, we had to give her more structure and more of our time.

It took about a week.

Today, she slept through the night (6 hours) and woke up at her normal am time! She ate the biggest breakfast EVER and just went down for her normal late am nap.

I think it takes about a week if you do a few things:

Morning sun and mid day sun - not just a little but a lot. It works but you may not notice that it does.
Make a progressive sleep and eating plan and stick to it or else it will take longer.
We decided early on that she won't sleep in our bed. For those like us, you'll have to resist the urge to bring her to bed but on the first night we let her sleep with us to get as much sleep as possible - then we started her progressive sleep schedule.

Hope this helps. In the end, kids grow up fine despite their parents!

Kenji, Minneapolis

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