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How many sleeps until Christmas?
Parents up and down the country will be familiar with counting down the ‘sleeps’ until arguably the most exciting night of the year for young children, Christmas Eve.
But what can we do to give the best chance of getting some sleep as we get closer to that magical night?
Routine, routine, routine!
Sticking to your usual routine as much as possible will help children feel a little bit calmer. Predictable timings and events, like getting up at the normal time (don’t be tempted to lie in even though it’s holiday time), and eating regularly will break up the day, maintaining your normal bedtime routine (as far as possible) can provide a little bit of ‘normality’ amid all the excitement. If you are not staying at home, just do your best and you could create a little ‘holiday routine’, if your child is old enough you could explain why it’s different, but that things will go back to ‘normal’ once you get home.
If you are travelling with an infant also remember the safe sleeping guidelines (2)
Don’t forget Teddy
If it takes your child a little bit longer to settle when out of their usual routine, try not to worry. If staying away from home, can you plan how you will make the bedroom cosy and calm? Taking your own nightlight, favourite books or perhaps an audiobook, you can play from your phone? Don’t forget your child’s favourite cuddly toy!
“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.” (1) Everyone can benefit from getting outside, whatever the weather. Children love playing outside, jumping in puddles, observing nature, using their ‘outside voices’. It can all help to maintain their body clock (circadian rhythm), use up some excitable energy, get some sensory input and spend time together.
If you absolutely can’t get out, how about a family kitchen disco early in the day to get some of that Christmas energy out?
Avoid too many snacks
Trying to eat ‘proper’ meals at ‘normal’ times can be tricky when people are likely to have treats around. But eating a healthy diet at regular times helps keep energy levels and mood more stable and makes it easier to fall asleep
Keep Calm and Sleep on
If you can, remember to have some quiet time in the day, especially if your child has moved on from naps. Snuggling on the sofa with a favourite Christmas film or a quiet rest time with some gentle music
Does your family leave a snack for Father Christmas? Hang your stockings at a particular time? Building special family traditions into your Christmas Eve routine can create wonderful family memories and bring some familiarity into the proceedings!
All I want for Christmas…
Christmas time and sleep don’t always go together. Children are excited, we overindulge and don’t sleep well as a result, we may have some difficult family ‘get togethers’ to navigate which will disturb sleep. However, many will fall asleep after Christmas lunch and blame it on the turkey! So to help you survive the season please read on:
Time for Sleep
For most people, especially children, Christmas time is the worst time to deal for the sleep problem.
The excitement of the man in white red and white coming down the chimney means that little sleep is to be had into the run-up to Christmas. Indeed we try not to take on any new clients during this time as you want to have the best run possible at solving a sleep problem! For adults eating too late and drinking lots can impact your sleep….. even night waking worrying about the cost of it all…
Gift yourself sleep
Alcohol will often cause sleep to come become more fragmented towards the end of the night so that you wake up not only with a hangover but also feeling less refreshed. So what happens if you do wake in the night? Don’t lie there but to get up and do something very absorbing but with no purpose instead. Why not concentrate on giving yourself a Christmas gift in the New Year? Resolve to of restore your sleep to full health, most sleep difficulties can be improved without resorting to medication. In the meantime wish yourself a Happy Christmas!
Christmas comes but once a year! Have a wonderful time together.
(1) Erin K. Kenny, (2013) Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way. Vashon, Washington
The Hunrosa Team with special thanks to Nurse Paula Wilkins
Jan Jenna is part of Hunrosa is a respected Sleep Consultancy successfully resolving insomnia and sleeplessness. Trusted by the NHS, local authorities and care agencies. Provider of individual sleep plans. Specialisms in children and young people, additional needs, sensory differences, menopause and dementia. Provider of accredited Sleep Right and Sleep Wise training, employee wellbeing sessions. Working UK wide and internationally. Member of the British Sleep Society and British Paediatric Sleep Society.