Christmas can be quite overwhelming for small children. All of the lights, sounds and smells stimulate their senses and excite their brains. Days are filled with fun activities and familiar routines take a back seat. Before you know it, your child can be heading into a downward spiral of poor sleep in the New Year.
Have you been noticing it lately? Is your child more difficult to settle at bedtime? Are they waking up more frequently during the night? Are there more emotional outbursts or melt downs during the day? These are all classic signs of over tiredness and the start of a downward sleep spiral that is hard to break.
The spiral starts when your child becomes over tired, which causes them to have poor quality, more shallow sleep. This results in your child having more frequent night wakings and waking too early in the morning. This limits both the quality and quantity of their sleep, causing them to become more tired, and so it continues on and on!
I’ve certainly noticed it here at The Sleep Sanctuary HQ. Despite plenty of time snuggling up to watch Christmas films, my two children are definitely showing signs of over tiredness and over whelm. So here are a few quick tips to get you back on track this week and restore peace in your home for the New Year.
Bring bedtime forward by 15 – 30 minutes for four consecutive nights to replenish their sleep tank. It may seem like a small change, but it really will make a huge difference to their sleep structure and the overall quality of their sleep.
I say it all the time, but make sure you are doing a very simple, calming bedtime routine to lead into a good sleep. Don’t make it too long or complicated – just 3 or 4 steps in the same order each night is fine. Perhaps a warm bath, bedtime snack or milk feed (depending on their age), teeth brush, and cuddle up with a calming story. Don’t forget to make the sleep space calm and dimly lit with no bright lights, screens, music or entertainment.
Use bedtime as a chance to refill their love tank and feel emotionally reconnected. Have a cuddle, reconnect and let your child unload any thoughts or stories from the day. But do set a time limit in your mind and stick to it. Don’t allow them to talk for too long or become too animated. This is a calming wind down to clear their mind and feel your presence. Modern home life is so busy, set aside this time to really focus on your child and their feelings – you’ll reap the rewards during the night and you’ll both feel really great too!
Make sure that the evening meal and any supper or snack is nutritious and has plenty of slow release nutrients that will fill them up and sustain them overnight. Avoid processed foods or high sugar content that will send them sky high when you are trying to settle them down. Bananas are an easy snack that are packed with relaxing potassium and magnesium that will improve the quality of your child’s sleep.
In between the Christmas activities and fun, try to balance it with some quieter downtime to rest, recover and process the stimulation. Try snuggling under a blanket to watch a family film, read some books or write thank you cards.
Christmas time can be physically and emotionally draining. Try to be a little more patient and understanding, particularly at the end of the day when everyone is tired. Prevent bedtime battles with kindness and understanding, but do keep to your house rules and limits. You can be kind without opening the flood gates to chaos.
Take a look at the upcoming weekly schedule and decide if it is just too busy for a small person to cope with. Most families I know dash between multiple activities each day and end up with overtired and emotional children and frazzled parents. Do you really need to do all of the activities and classes each week? Can you reduce the burden and prevent over tiredness anywhere? An overtired child won’t sleep well, becoming more overtired and then performing less well at school or activities.
If your child is finding over tiredness a problem, book a free 15-minute chat with me to discover how I can help you and your child to enjoy better sleep. You can choose a suitable time by clicking here
And don’t forget to check out my New Year Sale for great offers on my two most popular sleep packages.
Happy New Year
Rachael, The Sleep Sanctuary
The Sleep Sanctuary is a Children’s Sleep Consultancy supporting tired parents to help their children sleep soundly and live healthier, happier lives