Well, the holiday season has finally arrived, and it’s officially time for some festive cheer! However, what impact is there with Christmas sleep?
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Top 10 Tips for Managing Festive Excitement and Christmas Sleep
That familiar feeling of excitement is in the air as we enter the winter months, and many of us are spending time decorating and gathering in anticipation of festivals and gatherings like Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Hannukah… the list goes on! I love seeing friends and families experience the winter cheer! Whether you celebrate Christmas or other festivals, I think we can all agree that we could do with some merriment after a rough few years.
Christmas is a glittering, beautiful, and memorable time for children. However, younger babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are often surrounded by a sensory overload of lights, colours, and family members during social gatherings. The excitement of celebrating the holidays with the whole family may give way to other overwhelming feelings for your little one, such as anxiety, sadness, confusion, and hyperactivity. Each of these can affect their ability to unwind and fall asleep at a reasonable time, making going to bed difficult and potentially causing late nights.
In order to reduce stress and feel relaxed during the holidays, both you and your baby need good sleep, enough sleep, and better sleep. We want to minimise holiday stress and allow you and your child to create fabulous memories together. Check out these top 10 tips for sleep so you will be well prepared for the excitement of the holidays!
Best Practices and Natural Sleep Aids
So, what are the best practices to ensure your little one enjoys a solid night of restful sleep after a big day? We’ve all heard about the helpfulness of a warm bath, white noise, relaxing activities before bed, a good routine, and limiting white and blue light exposure at least an hour before bedtime. Believe it or not, there are even more ways to help your baby experience a better night’s sleep.
As you read on, keep this in mind: Allow your baby a little time and space for enjoying the festivities and for them to be special. If you’ve had a good night routine up until this point, straying from it can sound scary. However, rest assured that returning your baby to their normal sleep routine after the holidays will be easier than you think.
Top 10 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
So let’s get started! These 10 Christmas Sleep tips should help.
#1. Tuck Them in When They Start to Feel Sleepy
If your little one is napping still, build in time for a longer nap-time wind down. At the first sign that their movements are slowing down, retreat into their bedroom or a darker, quieter environment. Here, you can read a short story, sing a soft nursery rhyme, or a cuddle to ease them to thinking about sleep.
#2. Allow Them to Fall Asleep Without Distraction
Avoid any festive lighting or decorations in their bedroom. Keep the space plain, dark and quiet. This is the ideal environment for your baby to sleep and chill out. However, a comforter or sleep aid such as a stuffed animal can be beneficial for older babies and toddlers!
#3. Be Cautious of Food Before Bed
Keep an eye on what they’re eating close to nap and bedtime. Whilst we all like a sweet treat or two over the festive period, sugary foods like chocolate can contain caffeine and sweets are a stimulant. Even carbonated drinks can contain caffeine. When eaten and drunk in excess, they can hinder wind-down and cause trouble sleeping.
#4. Be More Active During the Day
Plan lots of active games and fresh air throughout the day to burn off the excitement (and extra calories) that comes with the holidays. However, quieter family games closer to sleep or nap time are better. This way, you don’t have to take them all the way from hero to zero before they climb into bed!
#5. Talk About the Day
If they’re old enough, talk through their day (the best bits and the bad bits) as you do bath time and other nighttime routine activities. This helps them process their emotions so they’re not lying in bed too excited or worried about something that happened during the day. These unresolved emotions can stop them from falling asleep.
#6. Embrace the Early Mornings
Be prepared for an early start for a couple of days during the holidays as they begin to feel excited! Cortisol levels in the body rise during the early morning hours. If your child wakes then, their melatonin (the sleepy hormone) will be wearing off, and it may be difficult for them to fall asleep again – especially with all the excitement!
If it’s far too early, enter the bedroom to try and settle. Be very quiet and tell them it’s still nighttime in hushed tones, be nighttime mummy/daddy. When it’s an acceptable time(ish!) to rise, you can enter their bedroom and do a ‘dramatic’ wake up – fling open the curtains, greet them in a bubbly manner, or make big facial expressions. Just be sure to return to their usual wake-up time as soon as possible after the holiday season is over.
#7. Manage “Overtiredness”
Manage overtiredness by acting on the first sight of a sleepy little one! These can include a slowing in your child’s behaviour, becoming emotional, or growing fidgety. These may present themselves a lot earlier than usual if there is a lot of Christmas excitement.
#8. Adjust Bedtime Hours
Don’t hesitate to begin bedtime at an earlier hour or extend their bedtime routine away from the fun to allow them extra time to settle and calm before bed. These adjustments are necessary for Christmas sleep when their holidays schedules may cause them to tire out quicker or remain wide awake longer.
#9. Patience is Key
Remember that it takes an average of 20 minutes for a child to fall asleep as they process their thoughts and wind down. It’s also important to note that that number applies to an average day, not an exciting day or the build up to a potential visit from Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.
Allow your child a bit of extra time to drop off at bedtime and for naps and they should be on their way to a good night’s sleep. So stop worrying if it’s been half an hour and they still haven’t drifted off to sleep – that’s normal!
#10. Build in Buffers Between Festivities
The most important thing is to allow your child to soak up all the holiday fun and excitement possible by building in buffers. These buffers allow for the child to remain awake and alert during important festive experiences and can include extending the bedtime routine or modifying activity levels. By doing this, you will give them the best chance of catching more sleep during the holidays.
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