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How To Get Your Kids To Sleep Over Christmas

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When you’re a kid, there’s nothing quite as exciting and magical as Christmas. From Santa Claus surprising you with lots of presents under the tree, to all of the festive sweet treats and celebrations that take place over the holidays… it really is the best time of the year!

However, all that excitement can disrupt your children’s sleeping patterns, leaving them struggling to get to sleep at night. If you’re concerned about your kids missing out on some shut-eye, then don’t be! We have plenty of tips that’ll help them to enjoy a restful night’s sleep over the holidays, and well into 2024.

Mother and two daughters  asleep on the sofa at Christmas reading a book.

How to get your kids to sleep on Christmas Eve

The threat of Santa not coming if they don’t go to sleep may work for some children, but for others, it could cause a lot of distress. Why not try these tips instead, to get your little ones to go to sleep despite the excitement of the upcoming big day?

1. Establish a Christmas Eve plan together

Christmas Eve is full of magic for the little ones – especially with Santa Claus just around the corner! So, kick the morning off with some energetic activities with your children – whether it’s a bike ride or a trip to the park – before gradually winding down into the afternoon with some festive colouring or reading.

In the evening, it’s crucial to create a relaxed atmosphere to get your kids ready for bed – and if you agree set bed and wake times in advance, then hopefully you won’t be woken up earlier than expected!

If for whatever reason there are last minute changes to sleeping arrangements, or you’re spending Christmas Eve away from home, pre-agree who sleeps where, and in which bed, so you don’t waste precious sleeping time in the evening.

2. Adjust Christmas Eve wakeup times

If you plan to wake up earlier as a family on Christmas Day for opening presents, then waking up a little earlier on Christmas Eve can help to adjust your children’s body clocks. For example, if the plan is to get up at 6am on Christmas Day, but normally your kids get up naturally at 7am; then set an alarm for 6.30am on Christmas Eve.

Not only will this help them with the earlier wakeup call on the big day, but it’ll also help with an earlier bedtime on Christmas Eve, as they’ll naturally be more tired earlier.

3. Get some much-needed Vitamin D

Sunshine is really important for getting to sleep, as it produces melatonin, which helps to regulate your circadian rhythm – and helps to reduce SAD symptoms. So, keep your fingers crossed it’s not raining on Christmas Eve, and try and plan in some physical activity in the morning with something that can be done outside.

Whether you go for a family walk, or kick a ball in some nearby fields, giving your child exposure to sunlight will help to regulate their body’s sleep patterns, meaning they should be able to easily get some shut-eye come the evening.

Family playing in the snow in coats, hats and gloves.

4. Minimise screen time

Much like the sun can help produce melatonin, blue light from phones, iPads and laptops can hinder it; as it tricks the body into thinking it’s still daytime. This Christmas Eve, switch off all blue light-emitting devices at least one hour before bed, as it’ll allow your kids’ bodies time to naturally wind down, giving them a more restful and uninterrupted night’s sleep. In fact, this tip is a great one to extend past the Christmas period too!

5. Stick to your regular nighttime routine

With holiday excitement growing, it can be tempting to let your kids stay up later, or skip their nightly bedtime story for something more festive; but those routines are created to encourage your children to get some sleep.

If you can, try to avoid making any significant changes to their nighttime routine on Christmas Eve, as it’ll help them to sleep more soundly not just on the night, but over the entire festive period.

Young girl and boy burshing their teeth in a bathroom mirror.

How to get your kids to sleep over the Christmas holidays

It’s not just Christmas Eve that can keep your kids up at night – it’s the whole of the festive period too! These tips should help your kids get a restful night’s sleep well into the new year.

1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine

If you haven’t already got a regular bedtime routine set, then the Christmas period is the perfect time to start one so that it’s in place by the time school starts back up.

The key to creating a nighttime routine is to introduce a period of wind down before bed – that could be having a bath, followed by dimming the lights, and reading your child a bedtime story, or alternative quiet, relaxing activities. 

Creating a routine that’s stuck to on a daily basis will help your kids transition to sleep more easily, as the routine will signal that it’s time to relax.

2. Create a comfortable sleeping environment

Establishing a bedtime routine is important, but if your child’s bedroom is set up to make it more difficult to sleep, then it’s counter-productive.

Dimming the lights, making sure the temperature is set between a comfortable 16-20 degrees Celsius, and making sure any outside noise is kept to a minimum, will all help your child get to sleep. You could also consider putting up some blackout curtains to block out excess light – especially if there are festive decorations or streetlights that you can see from their bedroom window.

Small child asleep cuddling a teddy bear in bed.

3. Limit caffeine and sugar intake…

One of the best things about the holiday season are all the festive treats on offer – from sweet-topped gingerbread houses, to chocolate yule logs, and rogue tins of Quality Streets that are lying around the house. 

And whilst there’s nothing wrong with indulging a little over the festive period, it’s important to manage your child’s intake before bed, as high sugar consumption can lead to an energy spike, followed by a crash, that makes it harder for them to settle down. The same goes for caffeinated drinks, as caffeine is a stimulant that disrupts sleep.

4. … But consider a sleep-inducing snack

If your child feels hungry before bed, then they could wake up in the middle of the night, and not be able to get back to sleep. A small snack could help them sleep right through to the morning, but it’s important to know what to give them.

Sugary and fatty foods are a no-go, but a warm glass of milk or a banana are both great, healthy options that can help to relax your child’s muscles and calm their body down, making it easier to sleep.

5. Set a good example

OK, we know how tempting it can be to pour yourself a tipple once the kids have gone to bed, and catch up on your favourite show; but when it’s the Christmas holidays and there’s no school to get up for in the mornings, your kids might cheekily want to know why they have to go to bed and you don’t!

Of course, that doesn’t mean going to bed at 8pm, but practising a wind-down routine of your own could help encourage your kids to go to bed – that means regulating your own screen time, and sugary food intake before bed too!

Mother and daughter under the covers reading a bedtime story.

Try these tips and your little ones should sleep soundly over the festive period, meaning you should too! For more tips and tricks on getting a restful night’s sleep, make sure you head over to our Snooze News section, for guides on setting your sleep cycles and more. Or, browse our range of comfy mattresses, designed to give you the best sleep you’ve ever had!

An image of the author, Molly, Family Home Specialist Molly, Family Home Specialist Bio & articles

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