It is almost Christmas day and with all that excitement it can be a little tricky to get your kids into bed and asleep at a reasonable time so that you can relax and get down to finishing your Christmas day preparation.
Here are our top 11 tips for how you can help get your kids sleeping Christmas Eve.
Do get active outside during the day.
Going outside and being active can help sleep in multiple ways. It helps your child burn off their energy so that they are more ready to sleep come bedtime. Getting outside in the sun also helps set their circadian rhythm for the day and your circadian rhythm is what drives your need to sleep.
Don’t skip naps in the hope they’ll sleep better.
The old saying “sleep begets sleep” definitely applies here. Overtired children (and adults) can have a harder time falling asleep. Add in the excitement of the holidays and you can have a disaster on your hands if you skip naps. Your precious angle may seem like a different child when you combine sleep deprivation, holiday treats, new or extra people, and the promise of presents tomorrow. You deserve a break as much as they do so make sure to schedule their naps into your plans for the day.
Don’t have electronics too close to bedtime.
As tempting as it can be to watch a Christmas movie as a fun event before bed even on Christmas eve, we should stop all electronics at least 1 hour, and preferably two hours, before bedtime. Electronics can be stimulating for kids and could increase their overall excitement and difficulty calming down. On top of this, the blue light emitted from screens inhibit the production of Melatonin, which is so important for sleep.
Do allow for extra wind downtime.
Since many children on Christmas Eve can act as though eaten a whole tray of cookies even when they haven’t make sure to give them extra calm time before bed. Dim the lights and turn off screens at least an hour before bed. Consider ensuring you have the full 30 minutes or even a bit more with just one parent in the room to help your child calm down, focus on the bedtime routine, and get ready for a great night’s sleep.
Do your normal bedtime routine.
Bedtime routines are wonderful things. They relax your child as well as provide them with a sleep cue to prepare their brain for sleep. Ensuring that you stick to their normal bedtime routine will help them get to sleep.
Do some relaxation techniques to relax excited bodies.
Relaxation or guided meditation can be a wonderful thing if kids seem extra excited come bedtime. It can help relax their body and calm their mind. There are many options like listening and participating in a guided meditation, learning to say good night to different parts of their body (progressive muscle relation), doing some bedtime yoga, or some deep breathing. Chose the strategy that your child responds best to and enjoys.
Don’t have a late bedtime.
Often our routines get thrown off on Christmas Eve as we celebrate, however sticking to your child’s normal bedtime can be helpful with getting them to sleep for the night and lessening the risk of them waking up early Christmas morning. When bedtimes are late they can become overtired which produces a flood of hormones – both cortisol and adrenaline make it harder for them to fall asleep. An overtired child is also more likely to wake up in the morning because they find it difficult to sustain sleep in the early morning hours.
Do use white noise to block out outside noises.
The holidays are a time for family and often that means extra people in the house which in turn means extra noise. White noise can block out the sounds of extra holiday cheer (or frustrated parents building a last-minute complicated gift!) and allow your child to focus on relaxation and sleep.
Don’t use Santa as a threat or scare tactic.
Although it can be so tempting to do it, it is important not to threaten that Santa won’t come or any other scare tactic to get your child to go to sleep. When we threaten a consequence our kids can feel tempted to misbehave, to see if we follow through. And would we follow through with canceling Santa’s visit? Highly unlikely! And Santa not visiting is not a logical consequence for fighting sleep. It has no relationship to their bedtime behavior. Now, gently reminding them that Santa comes when everyone is asleep is different. There is no threat in that but reminding them of how Santa works.
Don’t use bribery.
In the best-case scenario bribery is a short-term solution to an ongoing issue. As frustrating as bedtime can be and as much as we want to get them down so we can unwind before the chaos starts Christmas morning; bribing our kids to go to sleep is not the answer. Bribes will have to get bigger and bigger in order to continue being effective, assuming your child is even interested enough to continue. We want children to stay in bed because sleep is good for their bodies. Clear limits and sleep rules and consistent enforcement of those rules will get you to the finish line faster and with more cash in your pocket!
Do give them strategies for falling asleep when they are excited.
Its hard to stay in bed and focus on sleep when Santa might be bringing presents any minute! Help your child focus on sleep by reminding them what they are allowed and not allowed to do at bedtime. “You can hug your teddy bear or wiggle your toes but you need to stay in your bed until morning.” or “You can say good night in your head to all of your family and friends but you cannot get out of bed to play.”
Now that you have our best tips for getting your kids sleeping on Christmas Eve, we’d love to wish you a Merry Christmas and happy sleeping!