It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for those unconcerned with a good night’s sleep. Christmas time is certainly magical, but along with the cozy charm of the holidays comes the loud and sometimes chaotic byproduct of all that excitement.
Pressure and stress of holiday shopping, planning for family dinners, planning for your family to actually get along during those family dinners, late nights at the mall. These are just a few of the things in December that can shave off valuable hours of our sleep schedule. While these reasons are enough to keep even the most level-headed adults up at night, children are prone to an entirely different layer of sleep habit disruption during the holidays.
There is perhaps no more exciting time of year for kids than Christmas time. All that fun, however, sometimes comes at the cost of sleep. Christmas movie marathons, staying up for Santa, endless candy, playing with new gifts, and loud family dinners. These are all absolutely wonderful parts of the holidays that shouldn’t be avoided. However, the best way for your children to enjoy them is when they’re well rested and awake!
Though you can’t (and shouldn’t) stop Christmas from coming, here are some things you can do to help your little ones catch some Z’s during the season of St. Nick.
No Late Feasting
If possible, avoid large, heavy meals near your child’s bedtime. Eating right before bed makes it difficult to sleep because your body needs time to digest. Nothing beats a giant Christmas meal; just aim for a solid couple of hours before sleep. Additionally, stay away from caffeine less than 6 hours before bed.
Some children, especially babies, have a set daytime nap schedule. This routine can be hard to maintain during holiday family get-togethers. Especially if you are at a family member’s house, small children will find it challenging to take their nap in an unfamiliar place. Set aside some down time for you to spend with your little one occasionally during these get-togethers. It will not only comfort your baby to help them nap, but will allow you to recharge your batteries from entertaining all those Christmas guests!
Routine is Key
Having a consistent sleep cycle will only reinforce your children’s healthy sleeping habits. This makes it easier to fall asleep every night by training your body’s internal clock. Having a dependable bedtime routine such as a favorite bedtime story 20 minutes before bedtime will keep your child sleepy when they should be.
The Most Comfortable Time of the Year
It’s important to preserve a natural and comfortable temperature in your children’s bedroom. A room that is too warm or too chilly (especially in the winter) can make it near-impossible to fall asleep, let alone sleep comfortably. A warm bath or shower before bed is a great way to keep your kids feeling warm, cozy, and drowsy before bedtime.
There is probably no more exhilarating time of year than Christmas for children. However, there is a time and place for this festive frenzy, and it’s not best to be right before bed. The more active kids are immediately before bedtime, the more hyper they will be into the night. Instead of being wired, try to calm them down as their bedtime approaches. Lower energy will help ease them to sleep without constant awakenings.
Keeping it Familiar
For many families, December is full of travel. Christmas vacation and visiting distant family are all part of memorable holiday traditions. Wherever you are, it’s important to keep your family on the local time zone. Jet lag and time differences can easily throw off your children’s sleep habits and make it difficult to get rest. Maintaining the same routine from home at the same local time will help them stay on schedule. Don’t forget to bring a few things from home to help the process along. Blankets, stuffed animals, or books can all serve as familiar helpers in putting your little one to sleep.
There are plenty of reasons to be busy and rushing around this time of year. This in itself is good reason to make sure your child is getting the sleep they need to keep up with the Christmas spirit. Whether you’re spending the holidays at home or taking your family on the road, there is bound to be some chaos along the way. It won’t always be easy, but make the real Christmas miracle this year is a restful night’s sleep for you little one.
If ever your child or children are struggling to fall asleep and you’re not sure what else you can do to resolve the problem, schedule an appointment with respected sleep specialist Dr. Shukla today.