Arguably one of the most difficult nights of the year of getting small children to bed on time is Christmas Eve.
With all the excitement it’s hard to make sure they get enough sleep and so remain bright and breezy on the big day itself. I remember all too well being grumpy as a youngster by Christmas evening as the lack of sleep caught up with me.
Here are ten top tips on how to help your kids get to sleep on Christmas Eve so you can have all have a fantastic and wide-awake Christmas Day
Top Sleep Tips for Christmas Eve
1) Agree on a plan for Christmas Eve
Start by agreeing on a broad plan for Christmas Eve. Make the morning active, to tire out your children. Start to wind things down in the late afternoon. In the evening meal make things slower and more relaxing to prepare your children for bedtime. Set bed and wake times which everyone agrees with. If you are going away or changing sleeping arrangements agree on who is sleeping where and in what bed too.
2) Wake earlier on Christmas Eve too
If the plan is for the family to wake up earlier than normal on Christmas Day you could ease the impact on your children’s body clock by staggering the change. This would mean waking earlier on Christmas Eve too. For example, if you are planning to allow your children to get up at 6 am on Christmas Day and their normal wake up time is 7 am then set the alarm for 6.30 am on Christmas Eve. Not only does this helps their body clock adjustment to cope with the change in times but it also sets them up to fall to sleep a lot easier on Christmas Eve evening.
3) Make the morning physically active
Get your children outside to exercise. This burns off energy and provides a deeper and more refreshing night’s sleep. A long family walk is great and playing an energetic sport is even better. Sunlight early in the day also strengthens the body clock for the evening sleep.
4) Have boisterous games in the afternoon not the evening
Schedule any boisterous indoor games and computer games in the afternoon rather than the evening. Loud music is better in the afternoon too. Then plan calmer evening activities, such as family board or card games and reading which is more conducive to sleep.
5) Cut out the sweets early
The is a bi-directional influence of sugar and sleep. Children who sleep less than needed crave more sugar and children who eat more sugar and have sugary drinks sleep for less time. For some sugar children, sugar also speeds them up. Aim at cutting back on sweets after lunchtime as added to the excitement of Christmas your children may well finder it harder to get to sleep. If you do have relatives visiting in your bubble make sure they know not to offer treats late on too.
6) Technology curfew
Keep all the normal tech curfews. Ideally, all technology should be switched off at least an hour before bedtime and preferably two hours.
7) Do a bedtime countdown
Give your children plenty of notice with 30, 20 and 10-minute warnings to the agreed bedtime.
8) Keep the routine going
Our brains like habits. Therefore stick with their usual bedtime routine, i.e. warm bath, brush teeth and story. Also, if you are part of the family that is visiting this year, try to make the bedtime routine as familiar as possible. So bring toys, books, and even bedding and their favourite pillow to make your child feel secure and ‘at at home’. This also avoids something called the first-night effect where we tend to stay more alert in a strange bed.
9) Allow extra time to wind down
If you think it’s going to take them longer to get to sleep, get them into bed ½ hour earlier to allow for the additional excitement. Remind little ones that Santa won’t come until they are sound asleep.
10) Set a good example.
Children tend to copy what we do. They also ‘buy into rules’ if they think they are fair. Therefore, always set a good example by going to bed on time too. This helps your children understand that they won’t be missing out on any more fun. For more tips on kids-sleep see our post https://thesleepsite.co.uk/how-to-help-your-children-sleep-better/
I hope these tips give you a few ideas on how to reduce stress and get your children to sleep easily on Christmas Eve.