Vacation can be a wonderful time to restore ourselves and to fully delight in our family, the beauty of nature and plenty of good food. But what happens when the kids are jumping on the hotel bed more than they are sleeping in it. And when they hit a wall mid-week because they’ve lost two hours of sleep each night?
Once I had children, I realized that continued vacation bliss was going to depend on them getting their required zzz’s. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help make this happen and today I’m sharing my favorite tips with you!
5 Ways To Help Children Sleep Well On Vacation
- Tart cherry juice
The melatonin in tart cherry juice can help regulate your child’s internal clock when it is thrown off schedule. This study from the European Journal of Nutrition showed that drinking tart cherry juice significantly increased length and efficiency of sleep!
Tart cherry (also known as Montmorency cherry) is found in the natural juice section of many grocery chains. Around dinner time, give your child a small glass diluted with a bit of water.
- Tryptophan-rich foods at dinner time
Tryptophan is a biochemical precursor to serotonin, which helps maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Slip some into your child’s evening meal. Here’s a list of healthy sources:2
- salmon & light tuna
- poultry, especially turkey
- pumpkin & sunflower seeds
- almonds, walnuts, cashews & peanuts
- A foot rub with magnesium oil at bedtime
Magnesium reduces the stress of travel and helps children fall asleep peacefully. I love to massage a little magnesium oil into my children’s feet at night. It’s a calming bedtime ritual that we all look forward to.
Some kids will notice a tingling/burning sensation from the oil, which may be due to skin sensitivity or magnesium deficiency. If this happens, you can dilute the oil with water. Then, after applying and letting it sit for 10-20 minutes, remove it with a wet wash cloth. Or try this magnesium lotion, which is not as concentrated as the oil.
- Omega-3 DHA Supplementation
DHA is calming to the central nervous system, critical for proper brain function, helps with behavior problems and promotes better sleep. It is found in seafood (including salmon, shrimp and tuna), algae and breast milk.
The body can convert some omega-3 ALA (found in chia, flax, nuts and some green vegetables) to DHA but the process is delicate and sometimes unreliable.
Supplementing is a good way to ensure your child is getting enough of this nutrient. Arecent oxford study showed that children who supplemented with 600 mg DHA for 16 weeks slept one hour longer each night and had fewer night waking episodes.
While it may take a few months to see significant changes you may notice subtle improvements early on, especially if your child’s DHA levels are very low.
- A little flexibility and patience
Expect that things may go a bit haywire during the beginning of your vacation. Remember, the world is such an exciting place for little people! Just stay calm through the inevitable breaks in routine and it will rub off on the kids.
If you use some of my tricks those rascals will settle down within a few days and hit the pillow hard and fast.
Note: If sleep problems persist, have your child tested for food sensitivities. This is a common root problem.
What about you? Any tricks to help your children settle down for a good night’s sleep while on the road?