Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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5 Travel Tips to Help Your Kids Adjust to Hawaii Time Change

I’ve traveled to Hawaii from California with kids multiple times, at different ages, and here are 5 tips to help you adjust to the time change.

The tough part about traveling to Hawaii from California with kids is that your 6 am wake up is now 3 am or 2 am depending on the time of year.** Hawaii doesn’t follow DST.

Tips to Help You Adjust to Hawaii Time Change

Here are 5 travel tips to help you adjust to Hawaii time.

1.       Schedule your flight for the morning

Kids are at the best in the morning compared to the night time.  Even if you have to get them up at 5 am in the dark to catch the flight, they’ll be kind of dazed and a little excited to get on the plane.  Conversely waiting around all day to get on the flight and then being on the flight during the evening when kids are more tired in general is more challenging.  Hawaii is behind us, so if you leave in the morning you’ll arrive in the mid afternoon.  This gives you daylight to get settled in your lodgings and for your child to get comfortable in the sleep space.

2.       Your toddler is going to be tired around 4-5 pm.

This is the time where you’re going to have to decide if you try for a cat nap or they go to bed.  The benefit of the cat nap, no more than 1 hour, is then your child will not be ready to sleep until past 9 pm  which can be nice for the family to be able to get out and explore.  There’s an old adage that says kids who go to bed early get up early, and kids who go to bed late get up early.  So with that 9 pm bedtime, which is really 12 am on PST, she may still wake up at 6 am PST, which is 3 am Hawaii time.  That hurts because your child lost significant amounts of sleep. 

If you do bedtime at 5 pm, she’s still going to be up at 4 am.   I’m in the camp to go for a late nap to start shifting the schedule.

3.        Make the room as dark as possible in the morning

Making the room dark will help block out distractions and ideally fool her body that it’s not time to get up with the sun.

4.       Get up and out in the morning

Sunshine inhibits melatonin.  Melatonin is secreted by absence of sun and signals your body that it’s time to sleep.  You want to inhibit this during the day with lots of sunshine.

5.       Use naps to help shift schedules

In general it takes your body 1 day to adjust to 1 hour of time change.   The key is to keep your baby well rested to avoid a sleep debt.  Sleep debt makes your child cranky, and harder for her to fall asleep and then stay asleep.  You can use naps by shifting them in 30 minute increments to help stretch your child’s naps to be later in the day and hence have a slightly later bedtime.  

You can read my blog post on “Fall Back” as traveling to Hawaii from California is the same premise.  Your 6 am wake up for the day time is now 4 am.

It’s not uncommon that sleep habits go awry while on vacation and that’s okay!  You do the best you can to enjoy your vacation knowing that you can get things back on track when you come home.  It will likely take 2-3 days for your little one to adjust to Hawaii time if you are travelling from PST time. 

Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

Read More:

5 Signs Your Baby Is Overtired

How To Help Your Baby Sleep In A Hotel Room

8 Ways The Sensory System Affects Your Child's Sleep


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